Sunday, July 3, 2011

Featured Artist - Lowell Fulson (Part One)

("So far ahead of his time that it's almost pitiful" - Charles Shaar Murray)

The blues performers I return to most are the ones who succeed in a variety of styles.  I can't take too much Jimmy Reed or John Lee Hooker or Elmore James before I'm hitting shuffle, but Lowell Fulson always surprises and delights.

Born in 1921, Lowell began playing guitar aged 12 and by the end of the 1930s he had left home to play in Dan Wright's String Band, a country gig, not blues.   In 1939 he played guitar for a few months with blues singer Texas Alexander.   After a two year stint in the navy, he moved to California in 1945, where he began recording on a number of labels, most notably Swing Time.

Lowell’s earliest records demonstrate his capacity for adapting to a variety of styles, while always finding his own.  Drawing from guitar virtuoso T-Bone Walker, he recorded jazz/blues tunes as a part of a trio but also country-blues with his brother Martin Fulson.  He did both with skill and soul, and not just his guitar playing.  Peter Guralnick writing in 1982 on Lowell's vocal style: "much the same effect, vocal and emotional, as George Jones achieves in country music, extracting every last ounce of feeling from a seemingly common sentiment".

This first Lowell post features assorted tunes from his earliest recordings.  Later posts will bring tunes recorded during his years with Chess/Checker (where he landed in 1954) as well as some choice tracks from his spell with Kent (where he signed in 1964).  Lowell died in 1999.

1 comment:

  1. Are the first three your personal recordings? Swell. If not--just as well.