The Superstitions,
Leave All Blades & Pistols at the Door
(Conjure Roots, 2005)

A little blues will cure whatever ails you. Just head out to the bar and catch the band laying it down -- a little harp and some slide guitar will set you straight. Of course, if you can't get out to the bar, you have to listen to the sounds pressed onto disc. Recently, I received a disc by a band called the Superstitions, with music that promised to deliver blues in the style of the great Little Walter.

I have to admit that I am not all that familiar with Little Walter's music. From what I gather from the info on the disc, he often played a blues format that didn't include a bassist or drummer. Accordingly, the Superstitions consist of three musicians: Demar Dupree (vocals, harp), Johnny Williamson (rhythm guitar, vocals) and T.J. Sullivan (lead guitar, vocals). (I am already familiar with Sullivan through his own blues album, The Adventures of Thelonious James.)

This trio released an independent disc called Leave All Blades & Pistols at the Door. This is music that is gonna get down and get dirty. It's rawer than the music from Sullivan's solo disc. Playing without bass or drums seems odd these days but early blues musicians often had to make do. It's a fine 15-song set. They are gunning for blues down-home style, and they do a good job of executing the style. They manage to get a very raw sound while maintaining a fine level of musicianship.

The band jams out most of its tracks, getting things started right off with "Boogie Twist." This is a good way to kick it off. "Early in the Morning" has a more old-fashioned blues feel. These guys seem to grasp the bayou influence in the blues. There's even a modern touch with a song like "TV's the Thing." I don't believe Leadbelly ever wrote any songs about television, but the blues should be a living art form. You can still feel the blues in the 21st century, but you also have to live in the world that exists today.

"Red Headed Woman" is another great song. Sullivan did the arrangement for the instrumental "Bayou Dream." I like the concept of instrumental blues. It's nice to just let the musicians open up and play. I find Dupree's vocals and harp playing to be energetic and pure. He has a great voice for singing the blues, and he does a fine job delivering the goods. "You Ain't Nothin' But Fine" and "What's Going on Wrong" help showcase his vocals.

This is a very enjoyable disc. The trio has good chemistry with each other, and they convey the blues in an authentic manner that still manages to maintain its freshness. This is well worthwhile for fans of the blues to seek out.

- Rambles
written by George Schaefer
published 9 April 2005