Blues Before & After
Reviewed by Tim Stegall, Fri., Nov. 29, 2013
Pinetop PerkinsHow Long? (RockBeat)
September 10 and 11, 2010: Jack-of-all-trades Austin guitarist Jake Langley took blues piano legend Joseph William Perkins of Belzoni, Miss., into Yellow Dog Studios. Austin had long been home for Perkins, aka Pinetop, best known for a Fifties take on Pinetop Smith's 1928 "Pinetop's Boogie Woogie" for Sun Records. Perkins had in the intervening years made his name rolling his 88's out for blues masters like Hookers Earl and John Lee, Sonny Boy Williamson, and most notably Muddy Waters. For this session, Langley decided Perkins needed to meet the new breed: Gary Clark Jr., Emily Gimble, Carolyn Wonderland, all on occasional guest vocals. 2012's How Long? finally makes public that final session by Perkins, who passed on March 21, 2011, at 97. Langley, providing B.B. King-esque guitar throughout, also assembled a cast of first-call Austin sessionistas, including Cindy Cashdollar, Derek O'Brien, and Jon Blondell. Material is focused mostly on blues evergreens like "Got My Mojo Working" and "Sittin' on Top of the World," with Perkins' raw, honey-dripping vocals and rollicking piano out front. The last time proves worthy of such a designation.