NUMBER 99 – HELLO… IS ANYBODY THERE?

99
Number 99
Pick Up That Jug Over there, and Just Blow…

The song is as old as the hills… Sung from the ridges and valleys of the Appalachians, to the community gospel churches of the Mid West’s Evangelicals, to the Baptist Houses of Fury in the Great South and California’s Southern Central Valley…

Or at least when you hear it, it has that kind of feel to It., but for all I know, Mississippi Fred McDowell wrote it, back in the 60s

It’s been done in Bluegrass style, it’s been done in Country, it’s been done in gospel, it’s been done in Evangelical style, but I think Aerosmith does the song, and Mississippi Fred justice and honor by staying with the “Hill Country Blues” style of their version. This is the same music that goes back to what we saw as kids in cartoons, and books in the 60’s and 70’s. It’s the music that came from the porches of Appalachians, just blowin’ into empty bottles and jugs, playing percussion on chairs, hittin’ tin cans with spoons, all of it coming from the “feel”, from the emotion. Yeah it’s come a long way since then, but make no mistake, that’s what this is.

For that reason alone, I can respect what the boys are doing, but more than just a cultural type of music, they honor one of the best Blues Musicians of days gone by. Like I said, so many have done the song, Ry Crooder, The Staple Singers, and many, many others, both known and unknown, but I think it’s pretty special when these guys can keep the song close to it’s roots, and yet, give it that Aerosmith touch and feel, with Brad and Tom keeping rhythm, they keep it pretty damn real, with Joe using an old school guitar from his collection. Playing with finger picks, it comes out so clean! Just pickin’ and slidin’!

With a Blues/Gospel song like this, Aerosmith brings in the multi talented Tracy Bonham to give it that Hill Country sound via her perfect violin collaboration with Joe’s picking. Her deep and strong soulful voice is absolute matrimony to where Steven reaches so deep to find the feel of this song. They trade Lead perfectly. Not as a duo, but shared. Recorded at Steven’s barn, called the Briar Patch, it becomes a family affair, by bringing Jack back in to help produce and direct.

Jack’s touch to the band, and assistance to what they’re trying to do here, is like putting on an old sweatshirt. It’s comfortable, warm, and it fits. With Joey and Chelsea, singing background, it kinda’ says what the song’s all about. It’s about support. It’s about what is close to you. It’s about believing, it’s about faith in what you love.

The video below is from the making of “Bobo”, pretty sure this was in Joe’s basement, also with Mia singing back up in it, but it’s not the finished version. The next one down is from the album. A little more pronounced lead-ins from back up vocals, and much stronger Tracy. I love this song primarily because it’s something that’s felt. It’s a vibe that can be spread, understood by many. It’s not culturally specific. Yes the song’s main character is the Lord and Savior, but I think it’s about more than that. It’s says to all, just “go get it”…

Joe’s basement

The Briar Patch

Mississippi Fred McDowell