Sippie Wallace Mr. Bo
Surely one of the greatest blues women of all time, Ms. Sippie Wallace honored us with her soulful singing last Friday night at Compared to What?, the little coffeehouse in Highland Park's Trinity Methodist Church at Woodward and Buena Vista.
Ms. Wallace must be in her 80's now, but the songs she wrote many years ago still have their impact and relevance today -songs about men and women and all the various degrees of "love." She also has an incredible mastery of classic blues piano that simply has to be heard to be fully appreciated.
Sippie started her first set with three songs that quickly established the brilliance of her wit: "Adam and Eve (Had the Blues),"Loving You the Way I Do,"and "(l Love You But) Your Ways I Can't Stand." The small crowd was responsive, encouraging Sippie to carry on as each tune ended and she seemed to spontaneously string a whole list of songs together in response, including &"Turn Any Way But Loose," "Mighty Tight Woman," and the one that she wrote in the late 20's- made famous in the 70's by Bonnie Raitt- "Woman Be Wise" ("keep your mouth shut, don't advertise your man"). She wrapped up the blues segment with one of the raciest versions of "Jelly Roll" ever heard; "Loving Sam";and "Mama's Going Goodbye."
Pausing for a moment, Sippie introduced a few gospel numbers with a reference to her recent illness: "I had a stroke awhile back, and now l'm getting better. And most folks don't get better, so l'm thankful to the Lord for helping me recover . . ." In a somewhat wearied but sincere voice she knocked out "The Lord Will Make a Way," "Precious Lord," and finally "What a Friend We Have in Jesus."
To follow such a beautiful and timeless talent as Sippie Wallace isn't easy, but the Mr. Bo Blues Trio did a very respectable job, presenting yet another interesting and entertaining stratum of the Motor City's deep blues scene. The organ keyboard-bass player and drummer (sorry, didn't catch their names) jammed a bluesy intro to bring on Louis "Mr. Bo" Collins (brother of "Little Mack" Collins) and his tight rendition of the blues according to the master, Mr. B.B. King.
With the trio nearly as full as B.B.'s own big blues band, Mr. Bo had no problems opening with the intricate tear-jerker, "l'll Never Love Again" ("for the lovers," as Mr. Bo put it), and jumping right into the raucous "(l'd Rather) Drink Muddy Water and Sleep in a Hollow Log." They also did the classic "The Thrill Is Gone," a swinging "Caldonia," "Evil" ("evil when we're together, jealous when we're apart"), and "Everybody Lies a Little Bit." Many, many thanks to the folks at Compared to What? for bringing us this wonderful lesson in our living musical heritage- we loved every minute of it. And we'll be back this weekend to catch Shoo-Be-Doo, I can assure you!