Jimmy Dawkins
Me, My Gitar and the Blues
Ichiban D2-24909-2
Cut and paste this album's "Back to School" onto the mid-'70s Blisterstring album, say following a track like "Blues With a Feeling," and you'd need a set of jug ears to hear the passing of two decades. Not to say that Jimmy Dawkins has been musically mummified, but to emphasize that you don't need to fix a starkly unique style that most emphatically ain't broke. The instantly identifiable Dawkins bare thumb fingerpick and buzzsaw tone, as well as the tortured vocal exorcisms, remain oblivious to the flow of time. A man, his guitar and the blues is all it's ever been about, and it's all Jimmy Dawkins fans have ever needed.

From the git-go there is an ensemble energy that has been missing in Dawkins' previous Ichiban outings. Much credit goes to keyboardist Steve McRay, whose tinkling piano leavens some of the grimness of the Dawkins attack so that a full-tilt shuffle like "You Don't Want Me" soars on take-off. Dawkins rocks harder than he has in many years, and in so doing unleashes brilliant, complex soloing -- nowhere better than on the high-spirited instrumental "Jimmy's Bag."

Yet when it comes time to go down in the alley, Dawkins uncorks an instant classic in the near seven-minute title track, which may long be remembered as his masterpiece. McRay's solemn B-3 is the backdrop for a ferocious unleashing of Dawkins' pain and despair -- a quintessential "West Side" lesson in the blues. Me, My Gitar and the Blues offers a number of other gems, none more appealing than the collaboration between Dawkins and guest Francine Reed on "Down, Down Baby." It's an experiment that, judging from this tasty tidbit, could be developed into a pretty terrific duet album.

For those needing an introduction to this musician's musician and long under-appreciated artist, there's no better place to start than here. For Dawkins fans, baby your ship has come in!

-- Jack Oudiz

This page and all contents are © 1998 by Blues Access,
Boulder, CO, USA.