It's Still About Time
A rare blues album rises from the dead
By Jim Caligiuri,
1:44PM, Wed. Jun. 18, 2008
The summertime blues have hit Geezerville hard this year. That means heavy doses of Muddy, Lightnin,’ and Mississippi Fred McDowell with the occasional Allman Brothers thrown in to get the blood pumping. Central Texas has been represented with an almost forgotten gem from 1991: It’s About Time by T.D. Bell & Erbie Bowser. It was on the sound system between bands at the Continental Club one night recently, which caused me to pull it off the shelf and revel in its exquisite fusion of jumping-at-the-roadhouse and darker-than-night.
Bell and Bowser both passed away in the mid-to-late 1990s, but their legacy remains through the band they formed twenty years ago, the Blues Specialists, which, in altered form, continue to hold down the Friday happy hour slot at the Continental. Electric guitarist Bell earned the nickname “Little T-Bone” for his style reminiscent of T-Bone Walker, while Bowser’s boogie-woogie piano was equally influential.
Of It’s About Time’s 15 tracks, several are blues standards - Charles Brown’s “Dark Night,” Walker’s “T-Bone Shuffle,” Jessie Mae Robinson’s “Cold, Cold Feeling” – but the production, led by famed folklorist Tary Owens, is tantalizing and serene. It’s 71 minutes of Texas big band blues with a style untethered to commercial considerations, yet overflowing with superb musicianship and emotion. Included in the band are current Austin blues icons W.C. Clark, Mark Kazanoff, and Mel Davis, the current leader of the Blues Specialists, which offers an intriguing glimpse of where they were then.
The disc is currently out of print. A call to Antone’s Records tproved fruitless, although it’s available at Amazon.com. For blues lovers, from Texas or otherwise, I can’t think of a better investment.