TOO SLIM and the TAILDRAGGERS
Tales Of Sin And Redemption
Northwests première blues-boogie band release their eighth Tale Of Sin And Redemption in the form of eleven searing chart seekers. A musical power-house, Too Slim and the Taildraggers have been a constant on the club trail for well over 17 years playing every bar, ski lodge and festival that would have them. Their fame has brought them six classic platters released on the Bunrside label and won them several Muddy Awards from the Cascade Blues Association.
The band is built around the geetar-slingin of Tim Too Slim Langford. The Spokane native started playing at the tender age of 14 and was in his first professional band by age 18 called The Hombres, a roots country band. By 21 he was a mainstay on the college circuit mixed it up with local ruffians, Studebaker, a band that boasted just as many originals as covers. It was during his stint with Studebacker that he first entered the recording studio and cut a record for Tacoma Records.
By 1986, Langford had assembled what would become Too Slim and the Taildragger. The band was originally a trio with a fourth guy playing sax, keyboards and horns, says Langford from his home in Seattle. That guy lasted about a year and a half then we cut it down to just three guys. It was more indicative of the bands true musical tone. Their debut Swingin In The Underworld was released two years later. By 1990, they released Rock 'em Dead, their first CD originally on Criminal Records, which was then picked up by Burnside Records. With their 1992 disc El Rauncho Grundge, they furthered their sound earning them warm press and launching them as one of the Northwest's top acts. Their touring schedule doubled which garnered well-deserved recognition for their live performances. The trio and Burnside decided it was prime time to record the band live. The next album, Wanted: Live! (1993), was recorded at the annual Portland (OR) Waterfront Blues Festival and The Central in Seattle, Washington.
With national presence, 1995 marked the release of Swamp Opera, featuring Charlie Musselwhite, Jimmy Pugh and Charlie Baty (Little Charlie & The Nightcats). Extending the bands touring schedule to include Europe, Hawaii and Alaska, international success was soon coming. Blues for Eb" followed two years later (1997) diversifying the bands sound to include more swing, rockabilly and shuffle. Yet, it was with last years King Size Troublemakers that Too Slim and the Taildraggers hit their stride. A combination of Hank Meets Hendrix the record took the best of their roots rock and powered it up with blazing guitars, driving rhythm and wailing harmonica.
With his quickly rising profile Langford stepped away from the marquee of the band to independently release two solo acoustic records in 1999 and 2000. Ive always done acoustic stuff on my own, reflects Langford. I like to experiment and learn different styles, but sometimes it doesnt really fit in the frame work of the Taildraggers so, I went in and cut a couple record on my own. Much like Langfords own influences, Duane Allman, Jimi Hendrix, Eagles and Elmore James, musical expression is not sewn up in a tight package. It needs air to breathe and he gets that air acoustically.
Over the past years the Taildraggers have seen their fair share of lineup changes eventually landing on the combination ripe for Sin and Redemption. The trio is rounded out by long-time drummer John Midnight Cage and recently added bassist Dave Groove-master Nordstrom. Tales Of Sin And Redemption is Daves first recorded venture with the boys and marks a unique milestone for the band. Crisp songwriting, trademark slide guitar and tongue and cheek lyrics make this their most mature offering yet. The combination of Lightnin Hopkins hooks, George Thorogood riffs and Johnny Winter passion create a volcanic bed of barroom boogie with sultry swagger.
Most of the songs for this record were written when we were in Scandinavia last year, reveals Langford. We were in Norway and I was watching the moon hanging above this mountain top and thats when I wrote Mississippi Moon. It seems kind of funny that Im writing songs in Europe with all these American references. Like much of Too Slims music, it is that master of the slide that gives the entire record a wealth of rich texture and salty sweat. Listen to the chug of Missed That Train and brightness of Flatblack Flathead for a real lesson in steel on steel.
Theres also no escaping their wiry sense of humor and double ontondras. Oven Burin Woman with its clever farmers tail about choppin wood, Wish I Was Fishin, a song crafted post 9/11 and Walk On Water which moves through a Tom Petty workout with just enough Lyle Lovett and Hank Williams to make it a primary radio cut. The slide work on Brown Bottle Rock and muscle of Mississippi Moon were highlights at this years Waterfront Blues Festival in Portland, OR. The capacity crowd of well over 50,000 caught the Taildraggers buzz early on chanting the chorus of each new number as if they had been ten-year veterans.
The record ends with the confident Too Cool a jazz instrumental shuffle in the style of Kenny Burrell and a fitting tribute as well. For Too Slim and the Taildraggers, Tales of Sin and Redemption, maybe their finest effort to date. When I was first discovering contemporary blues music, I was knocked out with Girls Go Wild by the Fabulous Thunder Birds, says Langford. Then along came Stevie Ray Vaughan with Texas Flood and Robert Crays Bad Influence. Im hoping this record has that same kind of appeal.
Buy the CD at Amazon.com or Too Slim and the Taildraggers. Also see Burnside Records for Too Slim's back catalog CDs.