So Doggone Blue
Fat Possum / Evidence
John Weston made his
recording debut in 1992 with So Doggone Blue.
The album was the third release of the Oxford,
Mississippi-based Fat Possum label. Weston, an
Arkansas native, worked as a farmer, butcher,
mechanic, and carpenter, but always played music on
the side. He absorbed many styles, including jazz,
country, and the blues, and learned to play the
harmonica, eventually getting some assistance in
expanding his skills from Willie Cobbs. In 1988, at
the age of 61, Weston gave his first solo
performance in Helena, Arkansas in front of Bubba
Wallace’s record store and soon gained national
recognition by winning the Blues Foundation’s
prestigious Lucille Award in 1989. All of these
events led to the making of So Doggone Blue.
Fat Possum Records, then owned by Matthew Johnson and
Peter Lee, was in its early stages, with a two-album catalog consisting
of a pair of excellent albums from RL Burnside and Junior Kimbrough, and
Weston’s brand of down-home laid-back Delta blues was quite different
from their previous releases. Weston employed Blues Force as his backing
band, which featured Troy Lee Broussard, who had recorded with Willie
Cobbs and played with Earl Hooker, on guitar, Nathaniel “Herk” Williams,
who played with Albert King, on drums, and James “Famous” Jones, who
played bass for Cobbs.
Weston showed himself to be a very capable harmonica
player, playing both chromatic and diatonic, and vocally, his warm,
relaxed style was perfect. However, Weston’s songs were a cut above the
standard fare, dealing with familiar blues themes in a mature, sometimes
humorous, sometimes bittersweet way.
Highlights included the rousing opener, “Leaving Home,”
“Back To The Country,” “Coloration,” “Stuck With The Blues,” Broussard’s
instrumental, “Squeeze Play,” “You Didn’t Fool Me,” and the reflective
“Younger Days.” Broussard arranged the songs and provided some wonderful
stinging guitar fills, and the Williams/Jones combination added airtight
rhythm support. You’d be hard-pressed to find a tighter band than Blues
There wasn’t anything fancy about So Doggone Blue.
It didn’t win any awards or receive a lot of notice at the time, but it
was an enjoyable, rock-solid set of Delta Blues that could have easily
come from the Sun studio in the late ’50s.
Fat Possum didn’t record Weston again, and eventually
dropped So Doggone Blue from their catalog during their financial
reconstruction in the mid ’90s. That honor of releasing Weston’s second
album fell to Peter Lee, who left Fat Possum in the mid ’90s and formed
the short-lived Midnight Creeper Records. Weston continued to record an
album every few years or so for various labels, eventually settling with
Fedora, where he recorded a solo disc plus one with Dave Riley and Sam
Carr as The Delta Jukes. He passed away a few years ago after a long
bout with cancer.
Currently, So Doggone Blue is a part of Evidence
Records’ catalog, so it’s still out there if you get hungry for a set of
good old down-home blues.