Tail Dragger My Head Is Bald

No less than Howlin’ Wolf anointed James Yancy Jones with the "Tail Dragger” moniker — due to his habit of being late for gigs. Fans of the classic Chicago sound of the ’40s and ’50s will revel in the Tail Dragger’s still active authentic-sounding show, dramatically documented on this live in 2005 set from Vern’s Friendly Lounge in west side Chicago. Backed by an all-star cast including Billy Branch, Lurrie Bell, Kevin Shanahan and Jimmy Dawkins, this grizzled old-timer belts out his unique brand of ragged-ass vocals like something parked in a time warp — lovingly embellished by the sweet sounds of this seasoned group of players, set to the war whoops and cat calls of a typical west side crowd of blues regulars. Gritty realism meets genuine charm as this old school graduate dispenses 13 well-frayed originals — book-ended by bouts of backroom advice on love and life — as his band-mates wrap each raw epistle in pure, unadulterated Chicago blues. "Tend to Your Business” is one of the album’s highlights, if not a principle that Tail Dragger’s been adhering to for years. His head may be bald but he’s got the true spirit of the blues covered nicely. (Delmark)