West of Memphis
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West of Memphis

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West of Memphis Honey Pie Written by Raul Sandelin According to David Allan Coe, every good country and western song has to mention mama, trains, trucks, prison, and getting drunk. While this profundity may have been pronounced tongue-and-cheek, it does beg a certain truth: should a music borne of a specific epoch and region deal with subject matter that's true to that time and place? Those listening to the country charts know that country doesn't really sing about rural life anymore but tries to appeal to a decidedly suburbanized, metro-sexual America. The same dilemma strikes the blues: should a music borne of field hollers and hard traveling, of smoky juke joints and bad whiskey alter itself now that its home-nation has passed into the third millennium and onto a gestalt markedly, if not completely, distant from the harsh, post-Reconstruction South? Fortunately, when listening to West of Memphis, one doesn't have to endeavor in the above-philosophic quagmire because WoM stays sonically and topically true to its inspiration: the blaring blues bars of Chicago's post-war South Side, where freight trains rumbled past and third-class passenger cars carried the likes of McKinley Morganfield and his kin up from the Delta to their new home where southern black hardship suddenly crashed with new-found electric instrumentation and hot rodded harmonica. West of Memphis, despite its name, has nailed the Chicago Blues! Honey Pie is a live CD that captures the band at the Griffintown Café in Montreal. I say band, but, in fact, WoM is a duo, featuring transplant San Diegans Karl Cabbage out front on harp and Tom Walpole on guitar. The two share center stage with a tight combo backing them up from the shadows. The sound is gritty. Think Little Walter with Otis Rush or the earlier Junior Wells/Buddy Guy collaborations. Unlike the later Blues influenced by British guitar heroes, the WoM sound is that of an ensemble, all of the instruments including vocals melding together into one, sonic locomotive. Those inducted into the blues club via Clapton, SRV, Walter Trout, and the greats of the past 30 years are in for a treat. Before guitar pyrotechnics, band members found the groove together and held onto each other to form one, cohesive mass of rumbling glory. And, WoM does an authentic job of that. The song list combines standards such as "I'm ready" with a number of originals. One of the latter — "Cell Phone Blues"— caused me to rethink my earlier comment about sticking to period subject matter. Perhaps, country and western and the blues (but never Bluegrass) can be about mama, trains, trucks, prison, getting faced and cyber-space. These days West of Memphis can be heard burning coal at the House of Blues downtown during Friday night happy hour. With their authentic Chicago sound, they're sure to put the blues back into that venue' - The San Diego Troubadour


From Reviewer Tom Clarke: "Honey Pie is the second album by San Diego's West Of Memphis and it's the kind of disc that knocks you sideways with talent and presentation, and then makes you dance. It's the blues from Chicago to California, with a bit of the South in there because that's where it all came from. Produced live in the studio, all the power and miniscule nuances of a group of players who really have it nailed are nailed. It all started in 1994 when, as a Navy man, Karl Cabbage would steal away to nearby Memphis to entertain with his voice and harp. With guitarist Tom Walpole, now he leads a group that knows exactly how to make the old sound exciting as hell and the new sound right there with the old--on every one of 14 songs. In a world where they fly planes into buildings, we all need to do the 'Miss Sugarpuss Boogie' now and again." - "Hittn' the Note Magazine


CD Review – West of Memphis "Honey Pie" Smoky Mountain Blues Society Submitted by: blue barry July 2007 Well every summer I sit around and wait for that special blues harmonica CD to pass over my turntable with blessings and spiritual things I will need to make it through the winter. Well it has arrived! It's from a group called West of Memphis, and the CD is "Honey Pie." Just killer! Exactly what I wanted to hear all summer. Great harmonica, hard blues, a real throwback to the 30's. None of that fancy 100 licks a second guitar. Then repeat. No..... just tasty stuff that goes down real good with some cold refreshments after a long day at the.......wherever. I played the first cut and said, "wow" but it won't last. Well it did. Every cut is great. Wailing harp, slow blues, the works. These guys are really good. Not fancy, but right on the money. Can you imagine, no guy playing lead drums, no alter ego guitar player, no everyone plays at once, just sit back and wait for the next turnaround and see what happens. I love it. Believe it or not this is their 2nd CD, the first was a San Diego Music Award nominee for Best Blues Album. This one will be too. You wait and see. Karl Cabbage is the band leader and most excellent harp player. Tom Walpole is a Hawaiian guitar player. They put the band together in 1999. "Honey Pie" was recorded live in Montreal, Canada. Talk about a road trip. We have 14 tracks here and a ton of good stuff. Check it out. I won't lie to you about harp players since I am one. Visit the band's website at www.westofmemphis.com On yea, the cover art is great. I hope they got a t-shirt with that cover. I WILL have one if that's the case. Enjoy your summer. This will help. One love............blue barry - Smoky Mountain Blues Society


From http://www.bluenight.com/BluesBytes/ out of Arizona: West of Memphis, a blues band from the San Diego, has a rare distinction. They’re one of the few actual blues bands to play the House of Blues, having enjoyed a long-running regular gig at the San Diego venue for a couple of years. Having released a regional CD that received a lot of local attention in 2005, the band has now released their nationwide debut, Honey Pie, which marvelously recaptures the raw and ragged sound of ’50s era blues. Led by harp man Karl Cabbage and guitarist Tom Walpole, West of Memphis has the same sort of loose feel of those great Chess recordings from way back, the great harmonica and rhythm section, and even has some studio chatter mixed in as well. There are 14 songs on Honey Pie, including the terrific jumping opening cut, “Canary In Her Cage,� and some dazzling remakes of classic Chicago songs like Jimmy Rogers’ “Back Door Friend� and “That’s All Right,� and a pair of Willie Dixon standards (“Who� and “I’m Ready�). In addition to the opening track, the band also wrote several other keepers, among them the Geoff Starin-penned title track, an amusing romp complete with boozy chorus, the highly relevant “Cell Phone Blues,� and Walpole’s “I Can Tell.� Other highlights include a tasty cover of Muddy Waters’ “Crosseyed Cat,� a hard-driving take on Little Walter’s “I’ve Got To Go,� and a pair of original instrumentals that groove hard, “Miss Sugarpuss Boogie� and “Chupacabra.� Fans of the vintage late ’40s and ’50s sound will love this one. It won’t make you want to throw away those old classic recordings you have, but you will want to put this highly recommended set next to it in your collection. For purchasing information, go to www.cdbaby.com. --- Graham Clarke - Blues Bytes Arizona


Having troubles? Life got you down? Looking for something real? Then Honey Pie, West of Memphis’ second album, might be what you need. It’s low down, the perfect soundtrack for drinking whiskey alone on a hot summer night. I liked this album before I even listened to it. The cover art features a 40’s style pin-up resting on a harmonica. The band describes Honey Pie as a record “with music and artwork influenced by the dawn of the electric blues era.� But don’t let that throw you. West of Memphis aren’t a novelty act. They deliver a solid blues album that tells timeless stories. Co-founded in 1999 by Karl Cabbage and guitarist Tom Walpole, West of Memphis derive their name from Karl’s musical apprenticeship playing the harp on Beale Street (the home of the blues) in Memphis. Honey Pie retains an organic, spontaneous feel. They even include some of the banter that goes on during the recording process. It strives for a live feel. With music like this there’s no place to hide. Bands can’t fall back on noise or expansive production. And you can tell that these guys love the music. Mixing originals with covers like Willie Dixon’s “I’m Ready,� the songs speak to sadness and loss but always with that redemptive quality the blues requires. Highlights include the dirge like “Back Door Friend.� If you’ve got the blues it hits the spot. The title track sounds like it was recorded in some roadhouse where the drunk crowd started singing along. It’s a highpoint in a wonderfully relentless album that’ll wear you down. Honey Pie surprised me, especially the Cabbage/Walpole song, “Cell Phone Blues.� But then again it’s hard not to like songs built around the harmonica and a heavy beat. To quote the liner notes, songs like these keep the “good times rollin’� and the “good booze flowin’� - Pop Syndicate


Discography

Released Recordings...

2007 Honey Pie
Nominated 2007 Best Blues Album San Diego Music Awards
National Airplay
International Sales

2006 Monkey Business
Nominated 2006 Best Blues Album San Diego Music Awards..
Both Titles sold at the House Of Blues San Diego Gift Shop.

Photos

Bio

Founded in 1999 by Harmonicist Karl Cabbage and Guitarist Tom Walpole, West Of Memphis has been plying the Blues trade since 1999. Supported by an array of able sidemen, Cabbage and Walpole has succeeded in keeping the vision of the project on course. Committed to playing high quality and authentic American Blues Music, West of Memphis has not succumbed to market pressures that would have the band lazily following the road well traveled. These Guys play the Real Chicago Blues..