"Somewhere in the hinterlands of our more provincially-populated cities
(San Diego's profile until about 10 years ago, for instance), or planted in what used to be called the country,
are there bars filled with lovers of both Country and Blues licks? If so, Look
what our boy's done now! may be ricocheting the walls of suchlike.
And kudos are always likely from those warmed by Slim's ‘Nam vet success. Heck, Bill Homans', a.k.a. Slim's, mud
‘n' ‘pone bio could make any patriot, or just lovers of all things grassroots, want to cheer his every move. However,
at first it's a challenge to 'get right' with Homans' morph to Country, which could spell at least a temporary
loss of a born Blues-weaver.
"Anyone who hasn't heard Slim's well-tempered Blues playing and emoting would think he was born to spout Country.
Turns out his idea of the latter is pedal-steel guitar, mandolin, and banjo painting a colorful mix that's light
years behind, above, or beyond contemporary, whatever-it-takes-to-hit-big Country. Matter of fact, some of this
stuff could be kin to work by Kris Kristofferson.
"From the jauntily-proffered nostalgia of Good Old Boys Never
Change, some serious shit-kickin's goin' down. With some editing (axing
the relatively tedious He Went To Paris
and Tight-Fittin' Jeans,
along with a couple more textbook C&W snore-inducers), this could have been a five-star crossover. Before Letter to Stoney spreads the last slurp
of gravy over the toast, Slim's given nearly equal time to a good one as to its denouement; closing-time contemplation.
Delivery includes laidback Blues (I Appreciate That), Country that would rather be Blues, and Country with a jangly, spur-jinglin' strut.
"Yup, it's time to start tracking the whereabouts of Slim's tour bus. Who'd want to miss the party-in-a-song
of No Way to Reach Nirvana?
With female gospel back-ups over an upbeat escalation, it's not too far from some of the Stones' Country Blues/Gospel
"Bluesman Watermelon Slim comes honestly to his stage name. Over the
years, he's had many odd jobs including truck driver and forklift operator, but just before becoming a touring
musician, he was a watermelon farmer in Oklahoma. As has been noted, despite his working-class persona, Slim is
a well-educated man with degrees in journalism and history, and is smart enough to be a card-carrying member of
Mensa, the high IQ society. After a near-fatal heart attack in 2002, Slim got serious about his music. He's been
a relentless road warrior ever since, and released six splendid albums of country-blues -- both acoustic and electric.
On the cover of Ringers,
Watermelon Slim's eyes are twinkling and he sports a contented grin, a change from his usual dour grimace. That
sly smile is echoed in the music on the album, which is more country than ever before, but it's old-fashion honky
tonk country, not Nashville product. The pickers on Ringers may be Nashville session heavies, but like Slim, they
play outside the box on this outing. Case in point, Please Take This
Cup, a song about a man's struggle with the bottle that's based on
Luke 22:42 'Father please take this cup.' In lesser hands, this conceit might be sacrilegious, but Slim's twist
on the lyric makes it a powerful prayer for sobriety. It's a stunning tune. On a lighter note, there's I Appreciate That, a honky tonk celebration
of true love with bluesy pedal steel by Paul Franklin, and Good Old
Boys Never Change, a bouncy barroom rocker that tips it hat to guys
who love 'eatin' pies and tellin' lies.' He revisits the protest tunes of his youth with the country boogie of
End of the Line, which
laments the death of our nation's railroads at the hands of big oil, and If
There Is Any Heaven, a gospel-flavored cry of grief that takes a dark
look at the world we live in while managing to find a glimmer of hope and light. The conversational lyric doesn't
exactly rhyme, but that makes the message even more effective. Slim also covers a few classics, reinventing them
in his own inimitable style. The Conway Twitty hit Tight Fittin' Jeans gets a bluesy makeover with an arch vocal that makes the story of a rich woman finding
her inner cowgirl in a country bar sound brand new. The Moe Bandy classic Soft
Lights and Hard Country Music has a hint of Haggard's Bakersfield
swing, while Jimmy Buffet's He Went to Paris
is given a melancholy reading that features Slim's expressive slide guitar and a sensitive, understated vocal."
"A real left fielder even for Americana/blues, Slim kicks ass like you
wouldn't believe here. With a crew of the best of the Nashville underground on board, this is a great sounding
record that manages to find Slim front and center of a three ring circus that comes together with great precision.
Whether you were a Kinky Friedman fan the first time around or a dyed in the wool 3A/Americana hound, this ‘country'
album from this way out blues man is the new defining high water mark for insurgent country. Killer set from start
"'Good old boys never change,' Watermelon Slim asserts over honky-tonk piano at the outset of his new album. Well,
Slim has, sort of. The late-blooming 60-year-old, also known as Bill Homans, made his name as a bluesman, but now
he's cutting country in Nashville.
"Of course, this isn't slicked-up Music Row fare. It would be pretty difficult to smooth the rough edges off
Slim, whose vocals still have a marbles-in-the-mouth quality. Rather, Ringers is a natural extension of his blues. His slide guitar and harmonica figure prominently,
and he's backed by members of Delbert McClinton's band and other topflight sidemen who know their way around R&B
as well as country.
"And the songs by the twice-divorced Vietnam veteran, former trucker, and - yes - watermelon farmer show that
Slim invests his country with the same gritty, true-to-life character and singular voice he brings to the blues."