February 18, 2006
T-Model Ford was a hoot at d.b.a. Saturday night. The bluesman stared down the young girls in the crowd, always with a smile, and a few blushed. He held that gaze, and even though he's 75 or 80, depending on who you ask, he told the men in the crowd a few times to "put a stamp on your woman if you wanna keep'em." T-Model was playful, but Rotary Downs guitarist Chris Columbo, who carried T-Model's guitar into the venue, said that he'd seen T-Model get a little dirty in the past--dirty being pinching his nipples as he stared at the girls. T-Model smiled the whole night. The only time he didn't was when he was unsatisfied with drummer Spam's playing. Spam frequently pounded the rhythm home by striking the kick drum on every beat. This made the music driving but still loose.
I felt for Spam. Even though's he's been T-Model's only accompaniment for years, his tired from focused eyes were constantly on T-Model. You see, T-Model likes to improvise. So, Spam had no idea how or when T-Model would take a detour. This fact made the concert more exciting, but the payoff of Spam's anxious misfires wasn't worth it. I've never seen a drummer switch cymbals so much. I know that's his style, but it smelled of a lack of confidence.
T-Model Ford is the raw, roadhouse-playing blues dude from Greenville, Mississippi. It seemed like that's why d.b.a. was packed--that people were looking for authenticity and the "real deal." I wonder if they found what they were looking for. It seemed like everyone was enjoying the music okay, but I got the feeling that most stayed in the cramped space just so they could say they saw the show. People weren't dancing, really, and even though T-Model was having fun, it's kinda hard to enjoy the show when everyone around me is stoic. One girl up front was by herself with her eyes closed, swaying to the music, and it seemed like her whole purpose was to enjoy the music, not just be present.
I expected more from the music. T-Model's record "Bad Man" sounds much more interesting than his live show. Along with Spam's screw-up's, T-Model's guitar-picking was simplistic and repetitive. His sound was a mix of the Mississippi Delta and Chicago. It didn't hold my attention. I remember thinking about a host of other things while listening. I'm sure if it wasn't so crowded I would have enjoyed myself more.
T-Model's music was enjoyable, but it didn't blow me away like I thought it might. It was entertaining, but it wasn't anything to talk about. Just the "real" blues.