The comeback continues. On August 8th, Cat Head Presents of Clarksdale, Mississippi will release Round Two — the second comeback album by Mississippi-born bluesman Big George Brock. Round Two is the follow-up to last year's Blues Music Award-nominated Club Caravan CD and features special guest Hubert Sumlin — Howlin' Wolf's legendary guitar player.
"I knew Hubert back in the '50s when he was with the Wolf," explained 74-year-old Brock who now calls St. Louis his home. "Last year, we both recorded on that blues album Steven Seagal put out [Mojo Priest] and had a chance to sit down and catch up. Hubert is the same wherever you see him. Just as nice as can be."
"We were very fortunate that Hubert was in the area for the Blues Music Awards in May and was willing to play on a couple songs on George's CD," said Roger Stolle, Brock's manager. "They had such a great time recording that Hubert joined Big George on stage the next night at Ground Zero Blues Club in Clarksdale. It was a magic moment for sure."
Other Mississippi-connected musicians on Brock's new Round Two CD include veteran blues drummer Ben Wells, guitarist Bill Abel, keyboard player Levan Lortkipanidze and Steve "Lightnin'" Malcolm who guests on multiple instruments. The Round Two album title refers to both Brock's early boxing career when he knocked out an amateur Sonny Liston in the second round and the fact that this is his second recording since starting his blues comeback in early 2005.
In addition to generating Blues Music and Living Blues Awards, Brock's last release was critically acclaimed by over a dozen major blues publications, received airplay internationally and led to recording/filming sessions with Seagal and Mississippi Public Broadcasting. With that kind of hype to live up to, the new release is already creating a stir in blues circles.
"Big George just played some festival dates in Italy and Switzerland two week's ago, and that's all people kept asking about. 'When's the new CD coming out?' I was surprised how many folks even knew the album title," said Stolle. "Honestly, I think that George's fans are going to really love the new album. I think it highlights his voice and harmonica even more that the last record."
The first few seconds of Round Two feature Brock explaining how his blues came from that "lonesome cotton field" before launching into simmering slow blues entitled "So Long," with Sumlin on lead guitar. Other original songs include "No No Baby," "Rockin' Chair," "Mattson, Miss." (instrumental), "Mr. Wal-Mart" and the title track, "Round Two." Covers include "Shake For Me," "Poor Boy" and "Sugar Mama." The CD closes with a solo version of Brock's own "Call Me A Lover" that includes a brief monologue explaining the origin of the song. This final cut and the opening snippet come from the blues DVD documentary, "Hard Times," directed by Damien Blaylock and released earlier this year.
Most of the album was recorded at Electric Catfish Studio in Oxford, Mississippi, and features many of the same vintage mics and equipment used on Club Caravan — on loan from ex-Squirrel Nut Zipper/Buddy Guy sideman Jimbo Mathus. Stolle again produced the sessions, and Michael Burkey again mastered the disk in Memphis. The studio engineer this time around was Justin Showah of the Taylor Grocery Band, and Brock played Hohner harmonicas exclusively on the recording.
"Just like last time, everyone was in the same room, playing and recording 'live' with no overdubs," said Stolle. "A real-deal bluesman like Big George feeds off of the energy around him and is constantly improvising. He plays by feel and not by the book, so there's no use in trying to multitrack the heck out of it or add things that just weren't there. Either you get some good takes and good songs or you don't. And I think we did."
Round Two can be pre-ordered at www.cathead.biz and will be available August 8th at record stores nationally via Burnside Distribution Corporation. Audio samples will be available soon at www.cdbaby.com, and registered radio programmers will soon be able to download 3 free airplay files at www.airplaydirect.com .
The official CD release party will be held at Ground Zero Blues Club on August 12th, during Sunflower River Blues Festival weekend (www.groundzerobluesclub.com www.sunflowerfest.org ).
More information on Brock is available on-line at www.cathead.biz