Whenever one asks around northeastern Oklahoma, southwestern Missouri and western Arkansas jook-joints, clubs and taverns about whether they have ever heard of harmonica slinger Jimmy "Junior" Markham, the usual response they receive is: "Yes Sir man; awesome harp tone."
The story goes that in the late 1950s, Markham, 58, and his cohorts, Leon Russell and J.J. Cale, worked clubs like the Casa Del, Paradise, Nine of Cups, Cardo's Cadillac and the Frisco Club in their hometown of Tulsa, Okla. Soon Russell left for Los Angeles to pursue success in the music business. Markham and Cale followed not long after.
Within months of arriving in the Golden State, these self-described "dustbowler Okies" were rockin' the blues in the City of Angels' basin. They had come to California to do some pickin', but unlike their forefathers, it wasn't gonna be cotton. Eventually both Russell and Markham wound up in Nashville, Tenn. where their paths crossed on various musical projects.
Ace Moreland (guitarist, songwriter, executive studio engineer, and producer) is the man behind this 15-track project. A longtime friend of Markham's and another of the Tulsa blues bunch; Moreland puts his full and vast knowledge to task. The combination of the two's Oklahoma roots and native Indian heritage makes this project truly sing.
Russell contributes six gorgeous tunes ("That's What I Likes About Love," "House of Blues," "Message from My Baby," "Ways of a Woman," "So Hard to Say Goodbye" and "Love Is a Battlefield") with Cale adding one of his own ("Like to Love You Baby"). Both musicians' presence and songwriting work well with Markham's intense but laid-back harmonica phrasing.
Joining the session is fellow King Snake Records musicians: Warren King (guitar); Moreland (guitar); Dwight Champagne (piano, organ); Danny Walters (bass) and Chucki Burke (drums).
205 Lake Blvd., Sanford, Fla., 32773
This review is copyright © 2000 by Matt Alcott, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved.