One can only imagine what it would be like to be able to converse, and play music with a living piece of history. What would it be like to do this with someone that played with the likes of Robert Johnson, Big Joe Williams, Johnny Shines, Tommy Johnson, and Charley Patton?
David “Honeyboy” Edwards was just such a person. He had “toured” and played with a number of artists revered as pioneers of the blues, and he had been their friend as well. The blues world was truly blessed to have had him around for as long as was, still playing, still teaching, still passing along the history of the blues that he was a part of.
I’m Gonna Tell You Somethin’ That I Know was one of the great master’s final performances. Several thoughts run through one’s mind as they sit watching this performance, listening to the music. Among these is, “He’s 95 years old!” One is struck by the honesty of the music; there is no pretense, no attempt at dress up here, only the music, telling its story.
Another winning aspect of this DVD/CD set is the artists joining Edwards for this performance. Recorded on September 4, 2010 in Los Angeles, Edwards is joined by Jeff Dale on guitar, with Michael Frank – harmonica on first three tracks; Darryl Lieberstein is on bass, Geoff Mohan – harmonica, and Clark Pardee plays drums. As we watch, is apparent how much Dale and his band are enjoying themselves.
From a historical standpoint, this set is such a gift. To be able to witness Edwards playing this music is at once both breathtaking, and satisfying. We are reminded that Edwards and his contemporaries were the minstrels of their day, and they did not simply sing songs, they performed stories for their audiences. Back in those early days, there was no internet, no Ticketmaster, StubHub, or YouTube. Musicians would travel around, mostly through their county, and possibly neighboring counties as well. They played in small local “clubs” for small audiences. The more they played, the more their names became known in a given area.
From a musical standpoint, again, these performances are breathtaking in their simplicity. The sound is good, the mix is good, and Dale and his South Woodlawners do an excellent job sharing the music with Edwards.
We especially enjoyed “Catfish Blues,” “Going Down Slow,” and “You’re the One.” The last track, “Honeyboy Tells You Somethin’ That He Knows,” has Edwards offering advice, talking about the very night that Robert Johnson died, the death of Charlie Patton, and other antidotes about the likes of Johnson, Hubert Sumlin, Big Walter Horton and many more.
The DVD is a visual treasure, and the matching CD is of excellent quality.
For those who claim to be blues devotees, I’m Gonna Tell You Somethin’ That I Know is a “gotta have” for their collection. The music is unflinchingly transcendent, wrapping listeners in a comforting blanket of humble craftsmanship that moves us on so many levels. We recommend this to everyone; it really is something special.
David “Honeyboy” Edwards
I’m Gonna Tell You Somethin’ That I Know (DVD/CD package)
Pro Sho Bidness PSB1752