C. J. Walsh
Cafe 9, New Haven, Connecticut - August 26, 2007.
View: All over the place.
After his guitar player’s elated introduction, Honeyboy slowly takes the stage, wearing one of those Chinese dragon shirts and a Michigan Wolverines hat. No sharp outfit or Buddy Guy polka dots here, but the intimate atmosphere of the ‘Nine seemed to suit him. After the applause he sits down and then starts tearing through Catfish Blues as though he’d written it earlier in the day. One of the last links to the pre-war Delta blues scene, Edwards started playing in the 1930s at the same time as Peetie Wheatstraw, Skip James and Son House. So imagine my delight when he did two powerful, hour-long sets with little overlap in songs.
Astoundingly his guitar playing appears to be undiminished; to say he has the abilities of someone half his age doesn’t do justice. He plays a two-finger picking style on an acoustic with a pickup While holding a note on Sweet Home Chicago his whole body shakes then he breaks out the slide to kick the dust off Walkin’ Blues. After a lead run that would do his old running buddy, Robert Johnson proud, Honeyboy glances up, giving a nod to a pretty woman sitting near the front, as if to say “How ‘bout that?”
The voice is another matter, though. Vocals, sometimes half muttered, go from a whine to a rasp, betraying every one of his ninety-two years. Eric Clapton once said no matter how well a white man sang the blues, a black man from Mississippi always sounded better. No argument here.
Published in Record Collector Magazine