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Published: 2004/06/01
by Jason Casey

Fat Possum Juke Joint Caravan, The Alladin Theatre, Portland, OR- 5/23

The real part of town hit Portland, Oregon with the Fat Possum Juke Joint
Caravan. Paul Jones, T Model Ford and Spam, and Kenny Brown and Cedric
Burnside hit the stage with the transcendental thunderdrums and the red hot
cast iron skillet slide guitar of North Mississippi. Whether you love her or
not Stella was there, and whether you know him or not Jr. Kimbrough was there, and whether you’ve seen him or not RL Burnside was there too.

The idea of the music, the heartbeat and condition of human lamentation came
through in absolute clarity. At once a sound frightening and alone and at
the same time a common thread of joy rolled off the simple stage. No
flashy lights no 1/64th note rock star virtuosity, just a solid, scary
distortion, a systolic lub dub and a vocal wail sucked us all in. Had these
guys been on the street the hat would have been either full or completely
empty because the patrons at the bus stop would have either been scared to
death or drawn inexplicably to this common denominator of love, hate and

T-Model sat on stage, stood tall and made a joyful noise for us all. Without
a doubt Spam, T-Model’s impressive hill blues drummer from Greenville MS,
understands what women do to men. The love of passion and the ire of the
day to day monotony of love bled through his hypnotic drumming and seeped,
down low, into the rolling crowd on the dance floor. The da da dum dum of
T’s guitar licks, and the croon of his rough hewn lyrics sent attitude and
love above us, and somewhere, in the center they met. Drums, guitar, words
came together, at about 4’6" to 5’3" you know about the level of your heart,
the reality and common denominator of LOVE was driven home. Whether you
missed her or you were glad she was gone everything made sense, for a moment

Ahh Kenny and Cedric…the truth… Cedric Burnside after years of traveling
and playing gas money gigs with his grandad has solidified himself as a
metronome, a rock for the oral tradition. Kenny with his poppin slide
Gibson, and his slick and dirty vocals is a loudspeaker, mounted on the top
of a rusty old pick up truck broadcasting the "Mississippi Hill Country
Blues" to the congregation. These guys are the reality that music and the
human tradition are based on. The faith and suspension of disbelief, the
earthy smell of the tunes, and the honest no bullshit, take it or leave it
substance of the music is refreshing, familiar, exciting and welcome.

See this show. It’s cheap, its real, and it will restore faith, mend
hearts, and put a smile on your face during these uncertain times.

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