Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Blind Boys Of Alabama - Demons


Hey everybody. As you may have noticed, I've been working on a four part series on The Blind Boys Of Alabama. I had every intention of tackling the post dealing with their new millenium work with producer John Chelew on Peter Gabriel's Real World label before I left to go to Jazz Fest in New Orleans, but I kinda ran out of time...

As Dan Phillips can tell you, I spend an inordinate amount of time down there in the Gospel tent. Last year, the Blind Boys were playing at the House Of Blues on the Saturday night of the second weekend of the Fest. I was shot... burnt out. I called my wife and told her about it. We knew that George Scott had just passed away in 2005. "How would you feel," she said, "if you didn't go and something happened to Clarence Fountain?" So I went.

I had to.

Jimmy Carter (the other surviving original member) was ill, and couldn't make it. But Clarence was there. The man just has this 'presence', you know? He has lived a life in the Spirit, and it shows. He was nothing short of fantastic, and that incredible voice just shook the place as he sang out "This May Be The Last Time"...

I was so glad I went.

"Behold, I make all things new!" may well be the Blind Boys' motto. They have truly embraced that concept, and great albums like Spirit of the Century and There Will Be A Light (with Ben Harper) have showcased their ability to let the Holy Ghost shine through all kinds of music. Today's selection, taken from their most recent album Atom Bomb, is a major case in point.

A song co-written by Bill Withers that features David Hidalgo on guitar and Billy Preston (in one of his final appearances) on organ, it just knocks me out. Again on the cutting edge, the marriage of Gift Of Gab's brand of west coast Hip-Hop with the Blind Boys' soulful moan brings Gospel music to a whole new place. I love it, man.

I heard that Clarence was sick this past Christmas, and couldn't make it to an appearance on the Tonight Show. I just found this on their website:

"Clarence Fountain will be performing with The Blind Boys of Alabama whenever possible but his availability is subject to his health, which has been compromised by diabetes..."

Good Lord. I'm not sure how serious Clarence's condition is, but I'm sure you'll join me in offering him our sincere wishes for a speedy recovery...

I'm so glad I went.


Blogger soulbrotha said...

Wow what an exciting concert that must have been! I think if I had heard him sing the lyrics "This might be the last time..", I would have burst into tears right then and there.

11:22 PM  

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