Big George Jackson is a native of North Minneapolis, Minnesota; an area that is probably better known for a certain Twin Cities musician who displays a strong preference for the color purple. Big George spends his days working for the local gas utility and his nights playing the rough and tumble Chicago blues that his father listened to when George was growing up.
"Beggin' Ain't For Me" is Big George Jackson's first recording on the European, Black & Tan label and a fine follow-up to his debut recording, "Nothing Like The Rest" (Cold Wind Records-CWR9404-2). On this recording, Jackson and his band work through a substantial original repertoire, along with two excellent covers; Elmore James' "Shake Your Moneymaker" and "Kitchen Sink Boogie" by Taylor, Phillips and Ted Harvey. Throughout the CD, Jackson provides his bass-heavy vocals and straightforward harp, influenced by Sonny Boy Williamson and Big Walter Horton. Solo spots on the CD are shared by Jackson and guitarist Jeremy Johnson, who is probably best known for his work as the guitarist for R.J. Mischo's Red Hot Blues Band. Jackson's fine band also includes 2nd guitarist, Phil Schmid; drummer, Dwight Dario: and John Schroder on bass.
As much as I enjoyed Big George's first CD, "Nothing Like The Rest," I think "Beggin' Ain't For Me is an even better musical outing for Big George and company. The CD opens with a Jackson original, and the title track, "Beggin' Ain't For Me." This song lets the listener know that they are going to be hearing some real down home blues. The song is complete with some powerful harp from Big George and a nice guitar intro. by Jeremy Johnson. This is followed by one of my favorite tunes on the CD, "Rubbish Truck." This song relates the story of how Big George spent his weekends working with his father on the family rubbish truck instead of sleeping in, as he might have preferred on Saturday morning.
After a break from Jackson's originals with a nice cover of Elmore James', "Shake Your Moneymaker," the CD gets back to the original material with "Ela May;" a song that hints of tunes by the late Jimmy Reed. A couple of songs later is a harmonica-heavy instrumental called "Fat's Jump," that also includes some of Jeremy Johnson's best Guitar work on the record.
By far, my favorite song on the entire CD is a John Lee Hookerish sounding boogie entitled "Fee Fi Fo Fam," where Big George declares that he "smells the blood of a blues man." This is a song that will definitely get anyone out of their seat and on their feet. It is also a song with several meaningful verses citing real life blues scenarios.
The recording ends with a self-portrait of Jackson called "I'm A Big Man." Given the fact that Big George is 6' 6" and a giant of a man, you are certainly compelled to believe whatever the man tells you.
With his popularity in Europe growing, Big George Jackson now seems poised to assert himself in a "Big" way on the U.S. blues scene. With any kind of national distribution, "Beggin' Ain't For Me" could be George Jackson's ticket to bigger and better things in the world of the blues.
This review is copyright © 1999 by Dave "Doc" Piltz, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved.