Blues In the South (UK)
Wow! This kind of down-home sound has not really been heard since Lightnin’ Hopkins and Howling Wolf stopped walking the earth. The latter is a major influence on Mr. Gold (Chester Chandler to his parents) judging from numerous tracks here and the fact his is the first voice to be heard on the CD; Lightnin’ came to mind because of the occasional guitar licks, Gold’s propensity for very personal songs and the arrangements – a couple of guitars (Gold and the excellent Robert Lighthouse) over a loose rhythm section, acoustic based yet frequently driving. The material is not without controversy either: “How You Gonna Play The Blues?” restores the music to its African- American roots, ‘John Brown’ is a Muddy Waters flavoured account of a slave insurrection in 1859, and ‘Homeless Blues’ is drawn from first-person experience. Musically, Gold’s experience includes Reverend Robert Wilkins, R.L. Burnside, The Fieldstones, Big Lucky Carter, Uncle Ben Perry and other Mississippi/ Memphis blues performers. This album celebrates (if that is the right word) the fact that Gold’s background and upbringing are the same as that of many of the music’s true greats, and the raw, impassioned songs on this album certainly bear that out.
- Norman Darwen
RICK BOWEN NO DEPRESSION BLUES BLOG
- Rick J Bowen
NASHVILLE BLUES SOCIETY
HOW YOU GONNA PLAY THE BLUES--BISCUIT BOOGIE--DON'T TAKE MY BLUES AWAY--PICKIN' IN HIGH COTTON--BACK PO'CH TENNESSEE--HOMELESS BLUES--MISSISSIPPI FLATLANDS--JOHN BROWN--ICE CREAM MAN--PLOW MY MULE--STANDIN' BY THE HIGHWAY Memphis Gold was born Chester Chandler in 1955, and was dancing for tips down on Beale Street as a wee lad. His Mississippi roots run deep, tho, and he pays a stirring tribute to those hardscrabble days of his youth in his latest release, "Pickin' In High Cotton.' These eleven cuts are reminiscent of the Hill Country artists that influenced him, such as Jessie Mae Hemphill, R. L. Burnside, and Junior Kimbrough, and many others. His guitar playing is clean and clear, and his vocal delivery would make his mentors proud.
The party starts with his autobiographical "How You Gonna Play The Blues," with its stories of "pullin' corn," "pickin' cotton," and "the worst part of the hog!" Pete Ragusa adds drums to the title cut, over Gold's driving slide, where "300 pounds before the sun goes down" is a good day's work. The slow pace of "Homeless Blues" paints a grim picture and reminds us where we all could be "if not for the grace of God." "Back Po'ch Tennessee" is a cool juke joint instrumental with plenty of deep slide, while the set closes with a rolling guitar shuffle of Gold's coming-of-age, "Standing By The Highway.'
We had two favorites, too. Jay Summerour adds harp to the tale of "goin' down to Harper's Ferry to get ole John Brown." And, Danny Blue adds guitar to the "endless boogie" of the just-a-little-bit-naughty "Ice Cream Man," which "hits just the right spot!"
Injuries sustained in a serious fall in 2008 temporarily slowed Memphis Gold, but, even tho doctors told him he might never walk again, he has recovered and continues to persevere. Staying true to his Memphis/Mississippi roots and traditions, he is definitively "Pickin' In High Cotton!" Until next time...Sheryl and Don Crow.
CHRIS SPECTOR MIDWEST RECORD
STACKHOUSE MEMPHIS GOLD/Pickin’ in High Cotton: The way a folk fan likes Michael Hurley, the blues fan will like Memphis Gold. Coloring so far outside the lines that he’s off the page, Gold remembers the blues from before his time but feels them from down home fused with post industrial migration vibes and sounds. With a heart and soul that’s at least spiritually still out in the field, you almost hope Gold never makes it inside the house because this stuff cuts to the bone like a stone cold killer. Hot stuff that you can’t compare to anything, this is purely wake up call/outsider music that grabs hold and doesn’t let go. A wonderful, wild ride. 1915
Volume 35/Number 351
October 6, 2012
BLUES IN BRITAIN TODAY
Stackhouse Recording Company SRC-1915
Guitarist Chester Chandler aka Memphis Gold has more than paid his dues. Having shared a stage with artists ranging from Sister Rosetta Tharpe through to more recent acts like Lil Jimmy Reed, his debut album only came in 1998. After breaking his back in 2008, Chandler, against the odds, has now returned to playing and performing.
The opening "How You Gonna Play the Blues", which explains the meaning of the blues, hints at Howling Wolf in the intro, before locking into the rolling groove that is the hallmark of several tracks, including the very fine "Don't Take My Blues Away". The other dominant style is boogie, with the influence of John Lee Hooker evident on several fine tracks including the instrumental "Back Po'ch Tennessee". Just to prove that he has more than two strings to his bow, Chandler finishes with the funky "Standin' by the Highway", a very classy way to close things out.
Given the quality of the musicianship on display, it is somewhat surprising that Memphis Gold does not have a higher profile in the UK. "Pickin' in High Cotton" is a very fine album, and Chester Chandler is a first rate singer, guitarist and songwriter to boot.
- Gordon Baxter
PBSFM MELBOURNE AUSTRALIA
Chester Chandler, AKA "Memphisgold" proclaims that he was borm with the Blues on track one, "How You Gonna Play The Blues". Throughout this monologue of the greats it becomes quite evident that Memphisgold is certainly a throwback to an earlier time that the masters reigned supreme. This is not to say that Memphisgold is just another Southern Fried Bluesman from Memphis but is in fact a singer of outstanding quality who tells his stories with a conviction that takes you back to Charlie Patton and a time that was dominated by cotton. This is an authentic treasure as it takes us on a journey on every backwater road trudging from Juke Joint to Juke Joint to rent party's across the South. Memphisgold was well educated by his musician father who fathered 13 children. Beale Street became his second home from the age of 8 and it shows when Memphisgold pours his heart out on a slow Blues playing some slide . A potent combination. Throughout this album, l continually want the flick the dust from my shoulder's, such is the power of this album. For me l feel that if you wanted to teach someone about the Delta then this is the album to do so. Solid songs with a solid band, stunning guitar and the perfect voice to deliver these great songs. This could easily have come from an earlier time, such is the impact. All round a must have album of 2012.
There we have it Betsie, all three of these cd's have been getting plenty of airplay here at PBS 106-7 FM Melbourne Australia. They have really appealed to our listeners both locally and on our web casting. To have three albums of this calibre is a bonus for us and a big recognition of your high standing in the cut throat world music world. As always thank-you for your wonderful support.
PBS 106-7 FM.
ED WILLETT SUNCOAST BLUES SOCIETY
Pickin’ In High Cotton
Stackhouse Recording Co. SRC-1915
I was glad to see this record pop up on the review list because I had been curious about this artist. Memphis Gold’s picture has been on the cover of Living Blues and his name appears on the web fairly frequently but I had never the opportunity to listen to his music.
One of my favorite tracks is #2, “Biscuit Boogie”! I’d like to dive into a pile of this light and fluffy Boogie, Mmmmm-Mmmmm, that hit’s the spot! The title track,Pickin’ In High Cotton, opens up like Smokestack Lightning then kinda’ slides into North Mississippi trance-Blues..Good stuff! The instrumental “Back Po’ch Tennessee is what it might sound like if John Lee Hooker and R.L. Burnside got into a no-holds-barred guitar throw-down…
There’s little doubt that Memphis Gold (true name Chet Chandler) was born to sing the Blues. Born in Memphis in 1955, he was the thirteenth of fourteen children. His father started him on guitar at age four and by the time he was eight he was busking on Beale St.! On this recording he shows flashes of Howlin’ Wolf as well overtones of Muddy, Lazy Lester and the aforementioned Johnny Lee and R.L. It doesn’t seem to be a conscious effort to sound like anyone else; it’s just the flavors from the stew he grew up in! -
- George Willett
Title: Pickin’ in High Cotton
Label: Stackhouse Records SRC-1915
‘Memphis Gold,’ who, in is day job as a tree surgeon is better known to his friends and colleagues as Chester Chandler, unfortunately it was his day job that nearly killed him and his career after he fell thirty five feet out of a pine tree in College Park, Maryland; even though his doctors felt that the idea of him ever walking again, would at the very least, be optimistic but, he not only confounded them, he also combined starting to walk again with recording this very moving album. All eleven numbers are acoustic based with drums, bass and guitar where needed. The atmosphere throughout is a measured slow walk through time with inherent spine-tingling shivers. This is achieved mostly by Memphis’s sometime strident, defiant and almost howling vocals yet, also reeking of suppressed ghosts and memories of the past, as recalled in “How You Gonna Play The Blues,” and “Pickin’ In High Cotton,” in these Memphis asks the open question, if you haven’t the memories of back breaking cotton pickin’ (he actually worked the cotton fields with his mother as a child), sloping out hogs and experiencing grinding poverty, how can you seriously claim to understand the blues?
Highly evocative and enjoyable is the very fine North Mississippi instrumental ”Back Po’ch Tennessee” as is the slowburning “Homeless Blues.” The jolly little acoustic number “Biscuit Boogie” and the John Lee Hooker inspired “Ice Cream Man,” slot easily alongside plaintive and endearing burners as “Don’t Take My Blues Away” and “John Brown.” As a contrast to the main themes of the album “Standing By the Highway,” is a foot stomper of the highest order, a slow bass building, seriously striding funker with almost no end in sight. Well worth investigation
- Brian Harman.
GRAHAM CLARKE FRIDAY BLUES FIX
Pickin’ in High Cotton (Stackhouse Recording Co.) is Memphis Gold’s fourth release, and, like the others, it offers up traditional blues with modern touches. There’s plenty of greasy Memphis soul in the mix, too, as might be expected, but there’s definitely more emphasis on the traditional blues styles of artists like Howlin’ Wolf, John Lee Hooker, and Muddy Waters.
Memphis Gold is one of those composers w ho can write a song about nearly any subject, and he covers a broad range on this release. “How You Gonna Play The Blues” is sort of an autobiographical track, about how he’s paid the same dues (picking cotton, working in the fields, wearing cardboard in his shoes) that his predecessors did. This is a strong, down-home track, with harmonica wailing in th background, as Memphis Gold declares, “I am the Blues, I own the Blues!”
Memphis Gold also takes on the plight of the homeless (he was himself homeless for a while in D.C.) on “Homeless Blues,” and also relates the story of the doomed 19th Century abolitionist in “John Brown,” while tracks like “Plow My Mule” and the title track discuss the hard work done in the fields, albeit in different ways (the former goes the urban blues route, while the latter does more of a down-home approach, with a “Smokestack Lightnin’” backdrop).
There’s also more lighthearted fare as well, with “Biscuit Boogie,” an upbeat track that will make you want to dance and grab a pan of biscuits at the same time, the Hooker-esque “Ice Cream Man,” the fine instrumental, “Back Po’ch Tennessee,” and the splendidly funky closer, “Standin’ By The Highway.”
Pickin’ in High Cotton is probably Memphis Gold’s most personal album yet. There’s lots of biographical references here in nearly every song. It’s the kind of disc that makes you think, but also makes you move your feet, thanks to Memphis Gold’s standout guitar work, plus contributions from artists like Jay Summerour, Linwood Taylor, and Robert Lighthouse.
Friday Blues Fix Blog
Smokey Mtn.o Blues Society
Blue Barry – Smoky Mtn.
Blues Society October, 2012
No fooling around here...right back down to the Delta. Want some mud between your toes, check out Memphis Gold’s new CD, “Pickin’ In High Cotton.” Now this ain’t electric good time music, this is acoustic, Delta blues, country style, no tube screamers, but slap your face Mississippi, well, Memphis Gold! A very most pleasing sound that never gets in its own way. Memphis Gold plays guitar and does the vocals, and is just all over that Delta sound. Robert Lighthouse helps out on slide and harmonica. Jay Summerour also plays some harp, and Linwood Taylor lays down some electric guitar on actually my favorite track, “Plow My Mule”. This is a really good acoustic CD. If you want some of the best contemporary, but old style barrelhouse, juke joint stuff here it is. Served up on a platter. Blue Plate is you will. Memphis Gold has learned his trade from the best, and you can just hear it. Driving blues, great rhythms, nothing loud and overbearing, just toe-tapping boogies, shuffles, and some great slow, and I mean slow blues. Lots of good ideas here for you acoustic guitar players. Great timing, you can hear every instrument, like a slow freight train plowing through the Delta fog. I love it “Homeless Blues” is kinda’ like Robert Petaway’s “Catfish Blues” and the real old stuff the greats used to play. “Back Porch” is an instrumental that sticks in my head as well. “Pickin’ In High Cotton” has some very nice slide in it. Sounds like Blues in E to me. Sparse and rangy. On the money. “Ice Cream Man” is coming through your neighborhood with lots of flavors, and I know you love ice cream. Danny Blue plays guitar on “Ice Cream Man” as well. The CD is co-produced by Eric “High Cotton” Selby who also plays drums on most of the tracks. Overall this is just a great acoustic CD. Even got some history in there with “John Brown” and the Harper’s Ferry incident. You need to give it a listen. Let’s try to find www.memphisgolprod.net and see what you think. Hey man, sitting on the back porch by the firepit, in the cool of the evening with some iced tea, and some ‘Honey’ Jack Daniels…….Memphis Gold baby! Welcome to Tennessee. Now I know you Yankees lost the war, but you’ll love this offering from the Southland just the same.
One love, blue barry – smoky mountain blues society
Living Blues Magazine 199
Catfish Creeper is a straight-ahead broomduster featuring some spine-tingling slide ( unfortunately the credits are vague about exactly who's playing what where); I Shoulda Known is set to a Wolfian single-chord modal vamp. My two Kcandys (sic) witty melds blues and rockabilly ideas (Jay Summerour's swirling harp accompaniment keeps things grounded throughout), while the horn-flavored title song struts and boogies like and old school Beale Street sport. Do You Still Want Me? is based on the well-known Woke Up This Morning/ Teeny Weeny Bit rhythmic and melodic pattern; I Was Born In Memphis and Squeaky Wheel feature off-center, loping patterns reminiscent of Willie Dixon's song writing style. Thoughout,though, everything sounds fresh and newly conceived-between the impeccable musicianship of all concerned and his own deep-running, life affirming enthusiasm for the music and its message. Chandler's music breathes life and meaning into virtually everything it touches.
Chandler's voice is grainy, powerful, and unerringly sure; his keening timbre makes everything he sings sound urgent and focused. The hard driving Louise Fanniemae Brown finds him coarsening his timbre a bit more than usual to evoke James Brown-a reference made explicit by the hard-funk guitar comping ( Probably from Chandler himself). Overlook a few self indulgent oddities- the brief orchestral intro to the opening cut, the clumsy segue from moody cocktail-lounge piano-jazz nooding into crunching roadhouse-rocking blues on the closing Lil' Lucy-and enjoy this disc for what it is; one of the most well executed, enjoyable, and pure-D bluesy releases to come down the pike in recent memory.
- DAVID WHITEIS
Rootstime CD Review
Silver Spring Town Center Review
Byron Foulger Review
This album was originally reviewed by Howard Rye in B&R 2000,when it was described as being on the Memphis Gold label and without a number. The 'current release' was recieved in the B&R offices with a label on the back of the jewel case indicating that Jim O`neal's Stackhouse label(See Bluesosterica.com) has taken over promotion of it with the label number Stackhouse SRC-1911. I certainly hope that the album now gets the distribution and promotion it deserves, because this is simply one heck of an album. A very strong vocalist and guitarist, Memphis Gold(alias Chester 'Chet Chandler) has a varied backing crew to assist him, including saxes, organ, harmonica, bass, drums-and another guitar. He calls his music "Sanctified Beale Street Urban Gutbucket Blues' and performed on Beale Street as a child, learning from the legendary blues and gospel guitarist Reverend Robert Wilkins (hence the inclusion of Prodigal Son). His influences are understated, in that there are no blatant comparisons to be made, but this album has a varied mixture of many 'blues' and bluesy' sounds. The main thing though is that the whole album, at the same time, sounds both traditional and modern. This is really fine blues, and if there is such styling that allows blues to go forward and remain (within reason of course) popular then surely this could - perhaps should - be it. Quite why nothing has been heard of Memphis Gold since the original'issue' of this album I don`t know, this guy certainly has the credentials to be a real blues star, mixing straight blues, gospel, funk, r&b and most anything else that is artistically good.As far as I know 'Gold' hasn`t appeared at any 'major' Euro-festival, or very often on blues festivals in his homeland, again, why I don`t know. Howard described him as a major talent, I can`t disagree with that. He also advised readers to buy the album on the basis that it would soon become a 'tomorrow`s classic'. again I can`t disagree- in other words get it while you can.
Stackhouse Recording Company SRC-1911
(UPC 049998 191123)
Memphis Gold calls his music “Sanctified Beale Street Urban Gutbucket Blues,” and with the national release of Prodigal Son he stakes out his claim to this special realm of blues turf, which extends from his Memphis birthplace to his present home in the Washington, D.C. area. Memphis Gold (singer-guitarist-harmonica player Chester “K.D.” Chandler) performed on Beale Street as a child and learned from the legendary blues and gospel guitarist Reverend Robert Wilkins, who recorded the seminal version of Prodigal Son that the Rolling Stones once copied. Memphis Gold is joined on this CD of fresh, soulful and original blues by D.C. area musicians such as harp players Phil Wiggins and Charlie Sayles and Nighthawks drummer Pete Ragusa. Memphis Gold first released this CD on his own, to enthusiastic reviews and airplay, but with no distribution, so Stackhouse Recording Co. and City Hall Distributors are proud to bring this hidden treasure into the light.
Tracks: Come With Me, Don’t Let Her Ride, Crabcakes, Big Leg Woman, Prodigal Son, Chicken It, 3’s Tonic, Preacher Blues, Test Drive That Woman, Serves Me Rightm Melt Down Baby, Bedroom Mumba.
Ray Templeton Review
author: Ray Templeton
MEMPHIS GOLD: Prodigal Son Memphis Gold (60:40) Come Wit Me/ Don't Let Her Ride/ Crabcakes/ Big Leg Woman/ Prodigal Son/ Chicken It/ 3's Tonic/ Preacher Blues/ Test Drive That Woman/ Serves Me Right/ Melt Down Baby/ Bedroom Mumba Memphis Gold is Chester Chandler, born Memphis, Tennessee, 4th March, 1955. His father played bass and piano in the Church of God in Christ, and he began playing guitar in church at the age of four. Later he was mentored by Rev. Robert Wilkins. I'm not completely clear what he has been doing in the intervening period, but this is his third CD and it reveals a major talent. The notes give only a collective personnel, but as Mr. Chandler responded promptly to my e-mailed appeal for more detailed information, I can reveal that there are four basic groups involved, with overlapping personnel. Two of them, responsible for `Chicken It' and 'Preacher Blues', involve bassist Willie Hicks, who died in January 2004, with Emmit Cortrell on drums on the first and Pete Raguso making his only appearance on the second. '3's Tonic' has Don Atliff on drums, who hits a fine groove. Cortrell returns for `Test Drive' and `Serves Me Right', now with Apaulo Trinidade on bass. The remaining tracks have L. Warren Weatherspoon on drums and Ralph Oliver on bass. Joey Poppen plays second guitar wherever one is heard. The tenor sax heard on three tracks is not noted on the CD at all and I was relieved to be reassured that my ears did not deceive me that he wasn't a synthesizer effect. He is Robert Elkridge 'of the Duke Ellington Show Band'.
Ron Weinstock CD Review
A recent post on Memphis Gold, noted the deep influence his upbringing in the Church of God in Christ had on his music. When chatting about it and the name of Utah Smith came up he launched into an a cappella Smith's iconic number "I Got Two Wings," and recalled seeing Smith perform wearing his wings. To reiterate a point I made, while Robert Wilkins showed Chester Chandler specific things on playing the guitar, Utah Smith's music is part of the musical DNA of his music as displayed on his recent albums.
When I was in New Orleans this past spring I came across (at the Louisiana Music Factory) Lynn Abbott's book on Utah Smith, "I Got Two Wings which comes with an accompanying CD that includes several versions of "Two Wings," including some previously unreleased versions and recordings by associates (Arizona Dranes, Sister Rosetta Tharpe) and his daughter, on this intriguing biographical study that I recommend enthusiastic. Additionally the CD has some wild fervent music. There is a review on amazon that is also helpful. You can get it from either www.louisianamusicfactory.com
A Pike Full Of Blues
A long-running blues festival returns to South Arlington.
By David Schultz, The Connection
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
It’ll take more than a broken back to keep local musician Memphis Gold from playing the blues.
Gold, who was born on Memphis’ famed Beale Street as Chester Chandler, is an accomplished guitarist who will be playing this weekend’s Columbia Pike Blues Festival.
Earlier this year, while working his second job as a landscaper, Gold fell out of a tree and suffered a serious spinal injury. He was hospitalized for almost three months.
But Gold, who has been playing the blues since he was twelve, never lost his love of music. The week he was released from the hospital, Gold played an impromptu concert for the nurses and patients.
"I wanted to show them how much I cared," he said. "We had a ball. I had them rocking in their wheelchairs."
GOLD is just one of the many performers who are scheduled to appear at the 13th annual Columbia Pike Blues Festival, which is being held this weekend in South Arlington.
The event has become a yearly tradition for Pike residents and those who live elsewhere in the Washington area to gather for fun, food and authentic blues music.
"It’s our best line up ever," Jim Whittaker, the director of the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization, said. He said that the Columbia Pike area has taken to the idea of an annual blues festival because "They wanted something that was sort of authentic and fun and down to Earth. The blues certainly fit that."
This year’s headliners are Roomful Of Blues, a long-running ensemble that combines blues, funk, jazz and many other genres. The festival, which is being held on Walter Reed Drive just north of Columbia Pike, will also feature more than a dozen food vendors and a children’s activity area.
THE NORTHERN Virginia-based Gold will be playing one of his first post-injury gigs at this year’s festival. He describes his style of music as "sanctified, Beale Street, urban, gut-bucket blues."
The thirteenth of fourteen children, Gold has led a rich yet difficult life. He moved to the Washington area in 1992 with, as Gold recalled, "$100 and a one-way bus ticket." He was briefly homeless but has been able to become a sought-after international entertainer, having played in almost 40 different countries.
Now, after his injury, Gold has to go to physical therapy almost every day. "He’s still in pain," friend and protégé Stacy Brooks said, "But he loves to perform so you can’t stop a man from doing what he has to do."
Gold himself is thinking only about his next gig. "I’m ready to get some folks dancing," he said. "People are gonna get crazy out there.
Jazz Foundation Benefit
MC to stars @ Jazz Foundation Loft Party benefit
MC JazzMandel: At the Jazz Foundation of America’s Benefit Loft Party tonight (Oct. 29), 7 pm to midnight, Manhattan, my room has –
perc. Neil Clarke (left, standing) and MC HM, JFA loft party 2010 --
Tom Harrell‘s Quintet, pianist Marc Marc Cary, preeminent bassist Ron Carter with fine guitarist Gene Bertoncini, turbanated organist Dr. Lonnie Smith with alto sax/Mardi Gras Indian Donald Harrison and N.O. drummer Herlin Riley (yeah!), magisterial Randy Weston’s African Rhythm Quintet, and DC-based blues/r&b updater Memphis Gold.
It’s a great lineup to raise funds for the nationwide safety-net for jazzers-in-need. If you can’t be there, you can still donate.
These parties have been annual big fun, with approx. 600 – 800 fervent fans milling about, including such major business & culture influencers as Richard Parsons, chairman of Citigroup and on President Obama’s economic advisory team, as well as chairman of the board of the Jazz Foundation. Dress is festive/casual. There’s food, beverages, usually a silent auction of jazz-related goodies, and more music: besides the roster in my “jazz room” there are simultaneous sets by the Black Rock Coalition w/electric guitar star Vernon Reid, legendary singer Ronnie Spector (! — model for Amy Winehouse), slide trumpeter Steven Bernstein’s Millennial Territory Orchestra, writer-gtrst Greg Tate’s Burnt Sugar The Arkestra Chamber, surprise sitters-in, et al. in the adjoining spaces, looking out on the Hudson.