Monday, May 23, 2011
Ming Donkey and his One Man Band on Ultra Low Fidelity Mississippi Records
This foggy, grey, nearly rainy again morning for the 5th or 6th day in a row in NYC brought me this single from Ming Donkey and his One Man Band waiting on the stack next to ye olde turntable. Pretty much appropriate for today's mess of weather.
The sleeve is exactly how a dirty, raw, stripped down blues sound should be presented; handmade with imperfections and Ming is most definitely a one man band, as a bunch of flickr pics will attest. Not only did he perform this single live but it was written, recorded and designed(!) one weekend in July. The matte ink was probably printed on heavy card stock the same day, a thick layer feels like an old house that could weather and peel over the years and scrape off in your hands. The 2 color ink passes even miss some areas of the blue sky in that unique way with the brown cardstock showing through for the banners of song titles. The vinyl is a grey marble swirl and the inner black and silver label looks like it's based on an old blues design. Really thoughtful package.
The A-Side, "Waiting on the Georgia Line" is a syrupy, sludgy, lonesome blues, and at first I was expecting to hear a Bob Log III, JSBX high speed combination and instead it's a slow, raspy Tom Waits singing in an abandoned metal shack. Ming's more melodic, but that similar kind of growl.... or Doo Rag slowed down to 16rpm. It's a kind of folksy blues that you know you haven't heard this before but it's familiar, playing with those standard arrangements. The real draw for me would be to see these live, and his crossroads coordination. He's got a modern blues sadness down, with the sincerity and super rough vocals, plus all the credibility of actually living in the area he's talking about, playing live by himself all over the state - you can hear it.
I love this huge reverb ungrounded hum, that plugging the guitar in sound that's being used here in the background to get a sort of thunder effect running throughout.
The B-Side "Lil Cross-Stitch Bitch", there's nothing like that back and forth electric scale riff and a wailing harmonica over a 1,2 beat, back and forth between the snare and kick...it's the primal stuff this genre is made of. Add these washed out distorted vocals, mic'd at the end of a sewer pipe and you have a little bit of the sound of this one. Slow enough to feel that suffering pain of trudging though it, but leaving it just pounding along to shake your head at. I love this modern blues that combines all that whiskey and broken bottle slide guitar into something like this, even better the idea of this solo musician roaming around on his own, it's working in that tradition of this kind of southern artist. I'm all for more people picking up the Doo Rag torch and running with it. There's a huge period of The White Stripes that no one can deny is just perfect. The sound of believing in that mindset so clearly, there's not one tiny bit you can fake it. It depends almost entirely on the performer.
This one might be on ultra low fidelity Mississippi records, but I can't find them anywhere, but the truth is, it's been recorded pretty damn clear, the raw guitar, the harmonica, kick thumps...are all recognizable. I'm just hoping there's no overdubbing here because that really wouldn't make any sense for a one man band. You can definitely get it from Dead Broke Records or maybe sending Ming and email at another_small_town_death at hotmail.