Despite having a mild stroke in April of 2010, bluesman T-Model Ford (born James Lewis Carter Ford) continues to play out live and record albums at the age of 90. Yes, I said 90…though he claims not to remember his exact date of birth
The self-proclaimed “Boss of the Blues” didn’t get into the blues music scene of Mississippi until he was well into his 50s. Before that he was a regular blue-collar working and hell raiser plawing fields, working in a saw mill and later as a truck driver. At one time it seemed Ford had a part time job running into trouble with the law saying “I don’t know how many times I’ve been to jail. How many? Every Saturday night there for awhile.”
While not working or getting thrown in jail, Ford picked up the guitar and blending a beautiful mix of Chicago juke joint jams with the raw ower of the Mississippi Delta. He didn’t release his first album – 1997’s Pee-Wee Get My Gun – until he was in his late 70s.
While on tour in 2008, Ford needed some help playing the Deep Blues Festival in Minnesota so long-time fans GravelRoad became his backing band. The Seattle-based band and Ford continued playing shows together and eventually hit the recording studio in Seattle and Los Angels.
The end result of the recording sessions is T Model Ford’s latest entitled Taildragger, a nicknmae he picked up because of his advanced years. The nine-track album is classic Ford with its raw feel of a night at the juke joint.
Blistering blues and deep pocket grooves, Ford and his backing band tear it up on the seven-minute opener “Same Old Train,” the the old school Delta jam “Someone’s Knocking On My Door,” along with the haunting “How Many More Years.”
With chruning guitars, deathly slides and a terrific backbeat, Taildragger is vintage T-Model Ford. He isn’t breaking out anything new here with his guitar grooves and devilish themes. But seriously, who needs that? It’s the blues. Just listen to “Big Legged Woman” or “Little Red Rooster” and you will be transported back to the sweaty dirty roadhouses of 1940s where the music roared all night.