Friday, December 22, 2023

#651 : Cedar County Cobras - Homesick Blues (


2023 – Cedar County Cobras

By Phillip Smith; Dec. 22, 2023


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Cedar County Cobras, a blues and roots duo from Iowa has grabbed my full attention with their new album Homesick Blues.  Comprised by Tom Spielbauer and April Dirks, the Cedar County Cobras were formed in 2014 and have logged hundreds of shows across the state and Midwest.  In 2022, Spielbauer won the Iowa Blues Challenge for solo artists, securing a spot at the 2023 International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tennessee where he placed as a semi-finalist.  The duo’s songs are soaked with a pre-war blues essence and are wonderfully performed with Spielbauer on guitar and foot-drum and Dirks on mandolin and upright bass.

Dirks’ mandolin beautifully pairs with the Nashville-twang of Spielbauer’s guitar on the infectious “Country Records”.  I love the slide guitar on the rambling drinking song “Gimmie Lightnin’”.   There is a line in the song about seeing Cedell Davis at Gabe’s Oasis in Iowa City, and it hits me with a wave of jealousy with every listen.  I would have loved to be there.  When they take on Muddy Waters’ “Trouble No More”, they positively make it their own.  It is a wonderful re-engineering of the song and has a strong Delta Blues presence.  They also put a lot of love and attention into their cover of Son House’s “Walkin Blues”.  Spielbauer sets a quite ominous mood on his original “Voodoo Doll”.  This song about a witchy retribution is a magically unsettling and I love it.  My favorite track is their cover of Jessie Mae Hemphill’s “Shake it Right”.  This is North Mississippi Hill-Country Blues at its best.  Dirks on stand-up bass gives the song an extra punch to its hypnotic rhythm behind Spielbauer’s resonator guitar.

Cedar County Cobras’ Homesick Blues is a tasty dose of real-deal blues.  It is a fantastic recording through and through.                                   




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