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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Honeyboy Edwards

Roamin’ and Ramblin’

Review by Lisa Palmeno and Dave Kaye

David “Honeyboy” Edwards is still making the scene, and his Roamin’ and Ramblin’ has gotten as much attention as any blues-world great could ask for. He won a 2007 W.C. Handy Award and he’s still hitting the circuit, playing festivals, clubs and traveling well into his ‘90’s.

Edwards performs with his record producer, Michael Frank of Earwig Records in Chicago, whose harmonica can be heard on many of the tracks of this blues classic. Roamin’ and Ramblin’ teams Edwards up with industry greats Bobby Rush and Billy Branch and a whole host of other artists, with performances recorded as far back as 1942.

The CD touts more than seven decades of experience by the featured artist, not withstanding the collective talents of the guest musicians. The perfectly placed bent notes, the subtle dynamics, the authentic emotion of the man who grew up when blues music swept the nation, these are the reasons his audience will keep this one in their collection for good.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2009  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Apron Strings
Edwards moans out a tune about a mother-in-law, “mean old girl,” while Bobby Rush wails on the harmonica. Rush always knows the perfect placement of harmonica parts and improvisations. He’s the perfect choice for Edwards’ “Apron Strings.”
Crawling Kingsnake
Chicago harmonica master Billy Branch joins Edwards on this blues standard by Bernard Besman and John Lee Hooker. Branch carries the momentum while Edwards picks out the melody and tells the story.
Trouble Everywhere I Go
Edwards does what he does best on “Trouble Everywhere I Go” and that is solo. He’s at his best when it’s just him and his guitar.
I Was in New Orleans Last Night
Recorded in 1976, this popular sound is typical of early blues juke joint music. Edwards works well with harmonica players, and Sugar Blue of the Rolling Stones’ “Miss You” fame helps keep old blues alive on this Edwards original.
How Long
Here we have a standard eight-bar blues tune laid down like it should be.
Maxwell Street Shuffle
The train starts rolling early in the morning on this bell ringing, swampy blues car heading down to New Orleans.
The Army Blues
Edwards recorded by himself on this original in 1942, singing the blues about being in the army. He did the triple-threat thing, singing and playing all his own guitar and harmonica parts. Standard blues progressions carry the story line along. It’s simple and to the point.
Roamin’ and Ramblin’
Bobby Rush makes a reappearance for the title song. Edwards explores the melody while Rush adds the subtleties.
Talking About Little Walter
This is an apt tribute to Little Walter’s life, a spoken commentary full of nostalgia and trivia expressed by Bobby Rush.
Smoky Mountains
(“Big”) Walter Horton lays down the vocals and harmonica and Edwards provides the guitar work on this Edwards original. Recorded back in 1975, it’s a great walking song, and the album features the late great Walters by this point, “Big” and “Little.”
Strollin’ Down Highway 61
One-minute and thirty-nine seconds of easy, slow front-porch blues picked out by Edwards and Bobby Rush on guitars and backed by Kenny “Beedy Eyes” Smith on drums.
Low Down Dog
Frank and Edwards recorded this short track back in 1976.  The man tells his woman he won’t be her “low down dog no more” with a swinging tempo and upbeat picking.
Little Boy Blue
Frank accompanies Edwards again for a blues song that goes deep down south and really expresses the emotions of getting the blues, especially on Edwards’ vocals.
Freight Train Tale
Edwards spends a minute telling how he hardly ever gets home anymore, about taking trains to crossroads and how his fingers catch notes. It’s one minute of truth about his life, sans music (also recorded back in ’42).
Riding the Rails
One of the oldest blues instruments, the washboard, adds a terrific backdrop for an instrumental that keeps the timeless blues train rolling through Edwards’ harmonica.
She Worries Me All The Time
This is a standard blues song about a man who has to say goodbye to his woman ‘cause she’s no good. 
Boogie Rambler
The most dancable track on the album, “Boogie Rambler” has plenty of energy.
Shufflin’ The Blues Conversation
Bobby Rush takes his turn spending a couple of minutes speaking about blues music, with interjections from Edwards. 
Jump Out
Walter Horton (harmonica) joins Edwards for a duet that was recorded back in June of 1975. Another instrumental, this one has a fun finish.
 
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