We have all seen the Blinddog Smokin' ads in the classifieds of the major blues mags. They are, of course, Laramie Wyoming's hardest working blues band. But who is Miss Blues? Hailing from Direct, TX, Dorothy Choncie Ellis has been singing her famous "Texas Shout" style of blues since the early 40s. The blues was a way of life in her early years. It was common to have Sunday dinner on the ground, walk barefoot to save her shoes, drink well and spring water, wear flour sacks dresses, pick cotton and feel a million miles from nowhere.
This grand old lady of the blues uses her storied past to her advantage on this 9 track, 50 minute disc. On it are 4 brilliant Ellis originals combined with a couple fresh songs from the Blinddog boys. Throughout the backing of Roland Junior Bacon (bass), Jason Coomes (guitar), Chuck Gullens (drums), Carl Gustafson (harp) and Chris Lund (guitar) is rough and greasy. Smoking guitar and tough harp solos are a plenty, however; the production is weak on this live studio recording.
With an aged and aching growl, Miss Blues has the perfect voice for "Goin Down Slow".
She and Carl share the vocal duties on the humorous "Comfortable Man" with its sexual lyrics. "Sinkin'" is dedicated to her stepmother and tells her tragic story. With conviction, lyrics are delivered which include: 'I had a little house, like a fool I gave him the title, now I ain't got no house and he even pawned my bible'. "Sell My Monkey" is an uptempo tune which is refreshing after a series of relaxed, traditional blues. Pure, electric blues that is played the way they used to feature on "More Jelly" and "Cold Mountains".
From an interview in Southwest Blues magazine, Miss Blues is quoted, 'Each song I sing takes on its own individual form. I didn't get up one morning and say, hey, I am gonna be a blues singer. I lived the blues in the cotton patch, servant quarters, cooking in white kitchens, being broke, hungry, abusive grandmother, and feeling trapped in a bad situation.' That lifestyle has produced a raw, emotive, passion in her voice which leaps off the disc. Sure, its an acquired taste that won't necessarily attract new listeners but those who enjoy real blues will love it.
For CDs, booking and information, contact the Artist's websites: www.missblues.com and www.blinddogsmokin.com
This review is copyright © 2001 by Tim Holek, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved. Copy, duplication or download prohibited without written permission. For permission to use this review please send an E-mail to Ray Stiles.