Back To Reviews page

Bill Abel - One Man Band

Blue Skunk Music

16 tracks/55 minutes

There have been a few one-man bands scattered throughout the history of blues music. Many listeners may not be familiar with names like Dr. Ross, Joe Hill Louis or Juke Boy Bonner. They worked extensively as a self-contained musical unit, the same path Bill Abel has decided to travel. A Belzoni, Mississippi native, Abel was tutored by bluesman Paul “Wine “ Jones and he has backed T-Model Ford, Big George Brock and other delta musicians.

The focus of this release is squarely on Abel. Recorded live in the studio without any overdubs, he plays an assortment of guitars and a drum set consisting of kick drum, snare and hi hat cymbal. Abel maintains a steady pulse on the set, kicking out a powerful beat. His skill on guitar allows him to pick lead lines and rhythm patterns simultaneously. Mix the two together and you have a high-octane combination of elemental blues music driven by Abel’s raw-edged vocals.

There isn’t anything pretty or gentle about Abel’s music. It is a propulsive force that offers no quarter. His feet pound the drum kit while he tears notes out of his guitar strings. The opening cut, “Barkin’ All Nite”, finds Abel shouting out the lyrics, his voice on the edge of breaking from the effort to be heard over the musical maelstrom he creates. On “Rob and Steal”, a Paul Jones song, Abel dials back the intensity of his singing a bit but the music is a surging force of relentless intensity that suddenly just stops because there’s no where else to go. There are two instrumental tracks that lower the energy level and provide a respite from Abel’s energetic efforts.

Whether it’s a traditional song like “John Henry” or one of Abel’s thirteen originals like “Little Airplane”, the approach doesn’t vary much. Bill shouts out the simple lyrics in his deep, strong voice while his feet and fingers do their best to create the kind of blues music that would keep the dance floor filled all night long in any juke joint in the Mississippi delta.

This music is not for everyone. Some may find it too unrelenting, others too simple. Listening to this recording from start to finish can be an exhausting experience. But Abel’s performance harks back to a time when music was created for dancing, not for another display of instrumental virtuosity. He has mastered the art of creating a groove that rocks so hard that it can bring on a trance-like state of being. This one is made to be played loud – and don’t forget to dance like you mean it!!! Then you will understand the real beauty of Bill Abel’s music.

Reviewer Mark Thompson is president of the Crossroads Blues Society in Rockford. IL

  To submit a review or interview please contact:

Home  |  Contact  |  Submit Your Blues News - Advertise with
 Copyright - 2007 - Design by: