Okay, the Professor has to admit that he wasn’t a Hans Theessink fan until a copy of his CD “Jedederman Remixed – The Soundtrack” ended up in a pile on the bar. I was intrigued because the old theatre professor in me recognized this German Miracle Play title and couldn’t believe anyone had turned it into a blues concept album.
I was totally blown away and it’s one of the titles I was about to review until a new CD that was a collaboration between Theessink and Terry Evans landed on the bar. I couldn’t wait to jump into that one. Now that I’m a confirmed Theessink fan (by the way, that’s pronounced Tay-SINK) and I’ve always loved Evans, and lookie here kids, Ry Cooder is on three sides.
Do I have to tell you that this one is a must have for your collection and several cuts “Delta Time” will be appearing on Time For The Blues.
Before I heard Theessink who hails from Germany, I never thought of Germans in terms of the blues. Great cars – sure. A red light district the size of New Jersey – you betcha. Taking off the entire month of October to celebrate by drinking beer out of mugs the size of boots – hell yeah. Blues? Not so much.
All that changed for me and it will for you as soon as you hear Theessink’s stripped down guitar work and his simple deep delivery on vocals. Add to that Evans’ artistry and you have the makings of what surely must be considered one of the ten best traditional blues records of the year.
The opening song, “Delta Time” immediately transports you to a musical journey that you know is going to take us places. Theessink and Evans are in good voice and they are joined by backup singers Arnold McCuller and Willie Greene, Jr. The song is designed to slow us down, to tell us we will be operating on Delta Time.
“Blues Stay Away From Me” is the first song to feature Ry Cooder on guitar. It is a slow almost dirge like number and Theessink’s vocals are so low it almost sounds like he is deep in a well while he sings. Next up is “It Hurts Me Too,” a heartbreaking lament stripped down to the essence of the blues – things go wrong and they hurt me. Sometimes it takes a simple song to remind us what is at the heart of the blues. Evans and Theessink trade off vocal licks expertly in a call and response method and the effect is striking.
Things pick up with “How Come People Act Like That” and you get the flip side of the blues. Cooder is featured on this number as well. The next song is a bit of a surprise, “The Birds And The Bees.” While not a blues song, Evans sang on the original some 50 years ago and they wanted to include it as a remembrance of sorts. It’s a happy little number so just kick back and enjoy it, okay?
We’re back to the blues with “Build Myself A Home.” This one is pure country gospel and it rings like a bell. “Down In Mississippi” takes us deep into the delta and into Evans’ experiences growing up. This song was written by J.B. Lenoir. “Shelter From The Storm” starts out slow, but Theessink’s vocals are in total control.
The next song may be my favorite title this year, “I Need Money.” I think most of us who aren’t part of the 1 percent can identify with this side. It’s also a kicking little song. “Heaven’s Airplane” is a traditional song that gets a little spin from Theessink’s arrangement. Again, a great touch of gospel to remind us of the connection gospel has with so many other genres of music. The duo slows things down a little bit with “Pouring Water On A Drowning Man.” Evans’ tenor vocals sore while Theessink’s bass anchors the harmony.
“Honest I Do” is the next song, and again Evans’ and Theessink’s harmonies are sweet and the carry the song past its simple arrangement. The album ends with “Mississippi,” a reminder of where the blues started. Included in the song is a litany of the great blues artists that have come out of Mississippi and spread the music we love all over the world.
If you are already a fan of Terry Evans or Hans Theessink, you are already standing in line to buy the CD or you’ve got it on preorder with an on-line delivery system. If you aren’t a fan, trust us and get “Delta Time” and you’ll be a fan by the end of the first song. Second one at most.
(Photo of Delta Time masterfully borrowed from City Hall Records website. If you are the copyright holder and want us to remove it, contact us and we will comply. We’ll cuss a little bit while we do it though. And don’t expect a Christmas Card either.)