“…Struggling to be strictly acoustic,” mutters frontman Dooley Wilson. Occasionally, the gambit proves daunting.
The true-to-roots Delta-styled blues trio recently played a venue in their home base of Toledo, struggling to hear their guitar-dobro-mandolin accompaniment through an omnipresent wall of droning bass-ey feedback on the moniters. Fortuitously, the modest crowd out front was none the wiser, and the trio was warmed-up enough to handle even the direst sound-system shortcomings. “I told the guy – who’s a decent promoter, actually – this band, we don’t have anything that ‘plugs in’; my guy on guitar is playing a 1928 Stella… we don’t have output jacks.”
Conceived in the living room of an estate once owned by the Purple Gang, and bearing a moniker based on a painfully obscure Afro-American folk figure, The Staving Chain drags Mississippi’s 1930s Delta blues culture kicking and caterwauling into today’s Great American Rustbelt. “We informally record our practice sessions sometimes,” Wilson muses, “using some little device with a bottom-of-the-barrel condenser mic, and the shit sounds like an old Paramount ‘78.” Wilson here references one of the greatest purveyors of 78 rpm ‘race records’ of the late twenties and thirties.
The trio features Dooley Wilson of Boogaloosa Prayer and Henry & June fame providing most of the vocals and playing slide on the resophonic guitar; his long-time co- conspirator John Roundcity on harmonica, mandolin, washboard, and various other auxiliary capacities; and Todd William Albright, a.k.a. the Little Dirty Bastard, a.k.a. Baby Jesus, on strictly-vintage guitar accompaniment. “The first time the three of us got together, it was automatic: we sounded so much like Son House, Willie Brown, and Fiddlin’ Joe Martin on the old Library of Congress field recordings; moreover, we achieved it quite naturally, without a second thought,” says Wilson. “Even better,” he continues, “we present our own living identity to the music; we’re able to bring this very traditional music out without sounding like note-for-note purists pounding out museum pieces.”
“I’ve been wanting to do this since I was 19,” he continues, “and I knew right away that putting pick-ups in the mix or electrifying the sound would take all the magic away. We just have to bear through the perils and pitfalls of being truly acoustic musicians, just like our forebears... It’s the most authentic Delta blues you’re likely to find anywhere around Toledo,” he snickers. Couldn’t have put it better myself.
- Casper Shines for Danger Limited, Autumn 2010
Sets are typically an hour and feature many traditional deep Delta blues standards and others. Songs include but not limited to:
Sun Goin' Down
Stomp Down Rider
When the Levee Breaks
Cock it on the Wall
Boll Weevil Blues
When I was Young
Weed Smokers Dream
Train I Ride
Drop Down Mama
There are no upcoming dates at this time.