Big Daddy Wilson – Thumb A Ride (Ruf)

While Germany isn’t generally known as the home of the blues, it is the (adopted) home of bluesman Big Daddy Wilson. Wilson was born in the more tradition blues-producing area of North Carolina, in the southern United States, a state known for its tobacco plantations and cotton fields. Wilson made Germany his home after a stint there in the army where he married a German girl.

Now in his late 40s, Wilson has come to music relatively late in life. Thumb A Ride is Wilson’s second album and it’s an all-acoustic affair recorded with his trio. Wilson handles the vocals and some percussion while Jochen Bens and Michael Van Merwyk who play various stringed instruments (guitar, banjo, Weissenborn, mandolin).

Wilson has a warm, lived-in voice that sounds ready-made for the acoustic blues he and his band mates lay down here.

The title track opens the set. It’s got a jaunty, carefree vibe with Wilson singing, “standin’ on the corner, tryin’ to thumb a ride’. A lovely, understated slide guitar solo dresses up the song with just the right colours.

A few tracks, such as Baby Don’t Like and It Don’t Get No Better add a drum set courtesy Martin Esser (double bass player Andreas Muller also contributes). The drums give these tunes a little extra oomph.

While most of the songs are somewhat light and easy-going, there are a few darker moments. Who’s Dat Knocking finds Wilson bemoaning “bad news on the radio”.

Drop Down Here takes Wilson back to his gospel roots as he gives out a bit of homespun wisdom…”an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, the whole world is going blind”.

Fans of gritty, raw blues in the style of the Fat Possum roster may find Wilson something of a lightweight, but his easy-to-listen-to style has plenty of substance. And the acoustic guitar playing featured here is exquisite.

Marty Duda

Click here to listen to Who’s Dat Knocking from Thumb A Ride