Today, there are more blues festivals than at any other time in the history of the world. Not surprisingly, there are plenty of excellent blues players available to perform at them. But how many bluesMEN are left? You know, the real deal. The genuine article. Big-voiced blues veterans who came up the hard way in a time before rock music — when picking cotton was the only work and dinner meant black-eyed peas. Well, the days when blues was pop music and bluesmen were heroes have sadly passed, but there are still a few of those real-deal men (and women) out there. Big George Brock is just such a man. Sharecropper, boxer, club owner and, through it all, an honest-to-Muddy bluesMAN. From the cotton fields to the bright lights, big city, Brock has done it all. And he's seen many a "round two." He's faced personal and professional ups and downs but never given up. Even today, with all the aches and pains of old age, the blues still lift him up.
On May 12, 2006 — exactly one year and five days after he recorded his Club Caravan album — Big George Brock returned to a Mississippi studio to lay down tracks for a much anticipated follow-up CD. In those 370 days, a lot happened in Brock's world. In August 2005, he took part in Mississippi Public Broadcasting's Native Sons concert film project (since re-named Mississippi Bluesmen). In October, Steven Seagal tapped Brock to blow harp on the actor-musician's all-star blues album, Mojo Priest. In November, the Blues Foundation announced Brock's "Comeback of the Year" Blues Music Award nomination — a designation soon followed by several "year end" top CD lists and even a Living Blues Award nomination. By the first day of January 2006, Brock's own story in words and music had been captured on film, and on May 8, 2006, his story was released nationally on a DVD entitled Hard Times. And so, joined by his old friend, Howlin' Wolf guitarist Hubert Sumlin, and a contingent of talented Mississippi musicians, Brock returned to his native Magnolia state to record the CD, Round Two. Brock and Sumlin hadn't spent time together since Sumlin's days with Wolf, so the atmosphere was electric. The result? 66 years after the 74-year-old first picked up a harmonica, Brock proves he is still in fighting form and ready for round two. Songs like the title track and "Brought Me From Arkansas" pull details from his own life while carefully chosen covers like "Poor Boy" and "Burden Down" harken back to the songs he heard in his youth. (The opening monologue and closing solo performance come from Brock's Hard Times DVD sessions. The former was recorded in a Clarksdale cotton field near the old Hopson Plantation. The latter was recorded on the front porch of Cat Head Delta Blues & Folk Art.)
The night before the start of these sessions, Brock performed at the Blues Music Awards in Memphis. He hit the stage wearing a big, shiny cape over his always-stunning suit. By the end of the song, he was rolling around on the floor blowing harp as two dozen photographers pressed against the stage. The night after the Round Two sessions, Brock performed with guitar legend Hubert Sumlin at world-famous Ground Zero Blues Club in Clarksdale. The two days in-between held moments of pure magic. With any luck, some of that magic made it onto the thin plastic disk you now hold. — Roger Stolle
Recorded "live" with no overdubs on May 12 and 13, 2006 at Electric Catfish Studio in Oxford, Mississippi using Jimbo Mathus' vintage mics. Big George Brock played Hohner harmonicas. Hubert Sumlin played vintage Gibson gear.
Big George Brock, vocal and harmonica
Bill Abel, guitar
Levan Lortkipanidze, keyboard
Ben Wells, drums
Lightnin' Malcolm, bass (4, 7, 11-13), drums (5) and guitar (9)
Special guest: Hubert Sumlin, lead guitar (tracks 2 & 8)
Producer: Roger Stolle
Engineer: Justin Showah
Mixing: Justin Showah
Mastering: Michael Burkey
ALSO AVAILABLE: Big George Brock's "Club Caravan" CD on cdbaby.com as well as his "Hard Times" DVD on filmbaby.com.
NATIONAL DISTRIBUTION: Burnside Distribution, www.bdcdistribution.com
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Copyright 2006 Cat Head Delta Blues & Folk Art, Inc.