The first thing you see in the liner notes on Paul Geremia’s Love My Stuff (Red House Records) is that the late Dave Van Ronk, a legend himself, extolled Geremia as “The best white blues player alive!” Which actually is a pretty silly comment—you either can play the blues or you can’t, whatever your color. Despite the questionable testimony from the venerated Van Ronk, Paul Geremia can’t. The long and short of it is that Geremia—with creditable technique and vocals but without a great deal of feeling—shakes out more as an above-average technician than he does as a great artist.
Love My Stuff is a collection of 19 songs recorded live in the U.S. dating back to 1980 with most of it done between 2002 and 2007. The material is, in the main, classic. There’s the immortal blues man’s staple “See See Rider,” songs by such icons as Blind Lemon Jefferson (“Shuckin’ Sugar Blues”), Ledbelly (“Silver City Bound”), and Sleep John Estes (“Special Agent”). A handful of the performances are from an evening at Gingko Coffeehouse in St. Paul, including Blind Rev. Gary Davis’ “Death Don’t Have No Mercy,” something that might be of interest to Twin Cities’s followers. Highly recommended for fans of Paul Geremia, otherwise, not much to write home about.
The Sun Sessions by Dale Watson & the Texas Two (Red House Records), on the other hand, is pretty you-know-what kickin’ good stuff. It’s done in tribute to the historic “Million Dollar Quartet“ Elvin Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, and Johnny Cash which, listen up, you young ‘uns, preceded Blind Faith as the music business’s first supergroup, getting together one night for a session at Memphis Tennessee’s fabled Sun Studios. One evening, cancelled out of a gig, Dale Watson (guitar, vocals) found hisself with some unexpected free time on his hands, collected his sidemen Chris Crepps (bass, backing vocal) and Mike Bernal (drums), and came away with this corker of a keepsake, struttin’ and swaggerin’ dyed-in-the-wool rockabilly you can’t beat with a stick. Watson sings a lot like Johnny Cash—the same matter of fact edge to him, except he adds his own melodic quality. What’s really impressive is that the songs are all originals, but could’ve come from the repertoires of his four heroes. A highlight, perfectly suited to some kicked-back beer swilling is hot chuggin’ “Down Down Down Down Down” with an earthy verse: “Well, I had my first taste of whiskey/ I had my first taste of love/ Both got me high and twisted up inside/ Only one way to go after up, oh yeah/ Down down down down down.” Good stuff.
Photo courtesy Paul Geremia