Memphissippi Sounds
Welcome to the Land
Little Village

Raw and Dirty 21st Century Schizoid Bentonia Blues.

While I have a backlog of albums to review there was ‘something’ about the band’s name; MEMPHISSIPPI SOUNDS that caught my attention and when I saw the album cover was a picture of two young black men who looked like they were more suited to Hippity Hop than The Blues, my attention was certainly piqued.
I didn’t have enough time that morning to listen to the whole album; but 30 seconds into opening track Who’s Gonna Ride I was hooked!
It’s fast n furious old school; Hill Country/Bentonia hypnotic chant, full of noisy and scratchy electric guitar and a blueswailing’ harmonica, based around the chorus of
Who’s gonna ride?
Who’s gonna ride for me?
You can hear me say
Get your foot off my neck boy!
I can’t Breathe!

Written and recorded in the wake of George Floyd’s murder and the subsequent BLM movement; this is as angry as the Blues has ever got and needs to be heard.
Subsequently I’ve played this a few times; usually late at night when the music really comes alive; and while there’s enough tension here to power a space rocket; there’s light and shade too, if you look for it.
To all intents and purposes Memphissippi Sounds is Damion Pearson and Cameron Kimbrough (Grandon of the legendary Junior Kimbrough); and their combined backgrounds and differing musical tastes growing up creates a sound that is mostly Classic Bentonia but with a smattering of both Funk and Heavy Rock around the edges, which gives their songs a tear-ass frisson that is destined to light up stages wherever they play.
There are even ‘love songs’ here, although not the type Nat King Cole would sing ……. on Groove With Me and You Got the Juice Pearson and Kimbrough give us the soundtrack for a hot and steamy passionate night of lurving of the carnal persuasion, rather than holding hands on a country path.
Even that first night I played this album I knew that these two knew their musical history from the way that they arranged and created these songs; but that they wanted; no needed to advance that Classic Hill Country Sound into a whole new modern arena …. and it works; not just with the spine tingling I’m Mad and later on Saturday Morning too; but also on the instrumental Go Downtown; which is crying out for a film soundtrack to include it.
From start to finish this has been a whole box of exciting surprises; but two songs in particular caught my attention one stormy night driving home from work after midnight; the slow and sultry Crossroads belies the couple’s tender ages as it sounds like a Niles Rogers remake of something John Lee Hooker might have released back in the 50’s; and the other is the final track Look Out For the Wolf, which sort of sounds like it was a ‘first-take’ building and building around a slow and hornery riff and razor sharp harmonica interludes that will have you inadvertently shuffling your feet and dipping your shoulders in time to the lazy beat every time you hear it; or that may be just me ….. but it’s definitely my Favourite Track on an album full of contenders.
While this album will no doubt be marketed towards the Bentonia Blues fans; which is very trendy at the moment; but the older fans of John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters and of course Howlin’ Wolf will find plenty here to whet their appetite; and of course the ultra-cool mix could and should attract young fans looking for something ‘a bit different’ ….. if they get to hear it.

The last word:
In Cameron’s words, “After you get through getting your neck stepped on, you need a little love after that. If you’ve heard any of my music, 95 percent of it is involved with making love to some woman or trying to figure out what’s going on with a woman. And you could never go wrong with that concept and, you know, that’s kind of where I am, you know, I want to keep that Kimbrough vibe going. It’s really about wooing the woman, loving the woman and the blues—we all get blue. If you can’t relate to any other blues, you can relate to a woman leaving.”

Released 15th November 2021


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