News and new release from Yellow Dog Records

Michael Powers mpowers@YELLOWDOGRECORDS.COM
Wed Mar 9 10:33:40 EST 2005


We've added an online "radio" player streaming tracks from the entire Yellow
Dog Records catalog.  Over time, we'll add artist interviews, unreleased
outtakes, and more.  To tune in, visit .


We're pleased to announce that Cincinnati boogie and blues pianist Big Joe
Duskin's Handy-nominated album "Big Joe Jumps Again!" will be featured on
Blues listening posts throughout the Borders chain, starting this week.


Memphis-based Yellow Dog Records has released "I Watched The Devil Die", the
debut album of rising Americana / Blues guitarist Chris Cotton, on March
8th, 2005. Produced by former Squirrel Nut Zippers frontman Jimbo Mathus at
Delta Recording Studio in downtown Clarksdale, Mississippi, I Watched The
Devil Die is an inspired romp through southern America's musical heritage.

The intentionally loose, two-day jam session featured a ragtag assemblage of
area musicians, including drummer Lee Williams, famed bluesman Big Jack
Johnson, honky-tonk pianist Adam Woodard, and Mathus himself. It proved to
be the perfect backdrop for Cotton's intuitive guitar style and
rough-and-ready vocals, delivered into a vintage RCA ribbon microphone and
recorded live - with few overdubs, and, often, no second take.

The musicians gelled in Mathus' tiny studio, located in the one-time home of
legendary WROX radio station - on the very site where such artists as B.B.
King, Robert Nighthawk, Muddy Waters, and Elvis Presley played live over the
airwaves. The sounds of passing traffic bled into the mics, whiskey bottles
clanked, and, once, a tube amp blew in the middle of a song. It was an ideal
situation for recording a blues album, enhanced even further when it was
mixed to analog - tape hiss and all - at Scott Bomar's Electraphonic
Recording in Memphis.

I Watched The Devil Die features twelve tracks: Originals like "Black Night"
(which features a stellar slide guitar workout from Johnson), and the
searing, only-in-Mississippi title track, and such carefully chosen covers
as Skip James' "I'm So Glad," the Mississippi Sheiks' string band song
"That's It," and Blind Willie McTell's "Dying Crapshooter's Blues."

Those are songs the California-born Cotton - a dedicated wanderer - learned
in his youth after hitching rides and hopping freight trains all the way to
New Orleans, where he played for change in Jackson Square. Listening as much
as he played, Cotton learned the Piedmont style of picking from older, more
talented musicians. He was a quick study, and his energetic fretwork
breathed new life into Piedmont blues. His heroes, guitarists like Big Bill
Broonzy and Reverend Gary Davis, hadn't walked the earth for many decades,
yet Cotton was determined to decipher their secrets. Cotton also channeled
the jug band style used by the Mississippi Sheiks and the Depression-era
hoedown technique favored by the Skillet Lickers, and studied early country
musicians like Jimmy Rodgers and Hank Williams, Sr., combining their
primitive, frenetic methods into a singular, rootsy approach.

After further honing his craft, Cotton returned to California, where he
formed The Blue Eyed Devils with harmonica player Brendan Wheatley.
Rounding out the group with a fiddle player, bass man, and drummer, Cotton
and Wheatley played hundreds of shows and recorded two original albums under
The Blue Eyed Devils moniker, earning a California Music Award nomination in
the process.  Then, in 2004, Cotton decided to go it solo once more.

Like most good blues records, Cotton's Yellow Dog Records debut sounds like
a house party caught on tape - world-weary men effortlessly strumming their
guitars and bass, while passing around a jug of whiskey for sustenance. The
barrelhouse piano, is, of course, pushed up against one wall; Cotton's
gravelly voice reigns over the debauchery. The scene is timeless - harkening
back to the days when the distinction between blues and country was
hopelessly blurred. It's an aural portrait that owes a debt to Southern
bluesmen and Americana pioneers alike.


Sound samples and reviews for all albums are featured on our web site at .  We'd be pleased to hear from you at with any questions or comments.

-Michael Powers
Yellow Dog Records

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