Praise the Lord and pass the mojo. Leo Welch, 81, has met his moment, but not his maker. The debut album from the gristle-and-bones Mississippian is Sabougla Voices, a chugging hunk of churchified blues music that is finally getting the man some notice.
One of the dynamics of rural Southern living is Saturday night’s juke-jointing whoop-whoop, followed by Sunday morning’s more sanctified situations. That standard weekend order mirrors the full story of Welch, a former no-name bluesman – he once missed out on a chance to audition for B.B. King because he didn’t have the scratch to travel to Memphis – turned steeple-house shouter-guitarist.
“I come to sing my song,” bawls Welch, a long-time comer who grooves in the shambolic, hypnotic ways of the late R. L. Burnside and Hound Dog Taylor, without their back pockets of whisky. He arrives to kneel in prayer, to jump for joy and to “lift them up.”
He’s lifted, we’re lifted, everybody’s lifted – heaven can wait.