Bugs Henderson
Henderson & Jones
Poor David's 1070
On Bryan Street in Dallas there was once a 24-hour pharmacy dubbed "junkie Rexall" because of the ease with which one could buy a rig there. It's been closed for a decade, and Bugs Henderson's been drug-free longer than that, but the nasty old place makes a cameo appearance in "Drug Store Blues," one of the best of the nine selections by the seasoned Texas bluesrocker.

Henderson shares a stultifying situation with many guitar heroes, in that many of his fans couldn't care a hoot for his material and/or singing but would be content to hear him dick around on guitar for the whole of the night. To his credit, he continues to make interesting albums.

Here he's cut live at Dallas' Poor David's Pub, backed as is his usual wont by bass and drums and, less characteristically, a rhythm guitarist (Jack Reese). As is his custom he does some familiar songs, but in a manner unlike the versions we're sick of. "Crossroads" is not Cream-ish like you might expect from a '60s-type guy like Bugs, but slower and more old-timey, while "Got My Mojo Workin' "is at funk-pace with a two-chorus bass solo from Keith Jones and some nice in-tandem guitar work from Bugs and Reese. The pubful of Bugs loyalists unabashedly brays the sing-along parts and was obviously on tenterhooks during the free-form "Big Roar" that serves as a four-minute warm-up to a cathartic "Ain't Nobody's Business." He croaks the lyrics but does some really hellified guitar work that ranges from piquant to downright fierce.

"Texas Ballbuster" is a seven-minute instrumental, around five minutes of which are drum solo (from Bugs' son, Buddy). "Wild Side of Life" is Bugs' sly take on Hank Thompson's honky-tonk classic and has far more flow than "Crippled Gnat Bounce," a gimmicky item penned by Texas rocker John Nitzinger.

"Drug Store Blues" is the most poignant and meaningful song here, its words reminding those who knew hell that before they escaped they liked it there. Such sentiments are traditionally best expressed while playing wall-rattling guitar, and this you get lots of from Bugs Henderson.

-- Tim Schuller

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