Ted Drozdowski and The Scissormen, Darwin’s, Sept. 23

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It was a football night in Atlanta and unfortunately meant a rather small crowd for Ted Drozdowski and The Scissormen.But Drozdowski and his two bandmates gave an excellent performance anyway, and with his usual good humor.  There may have been less climbing on and laying on tables while playing than I have seen in other shows of his, but he still wondered the room, making sure to play at every table and for every person at the bar. He came to our table twice, once to lay the guitar on the table and play slide with a water glass, and later in the evening to prop a leg on a chair and play slide with my wine glass. It is thrilling to see a master play up close and personal, and in a small crowd or a huge one, Drozdowski makes sure every gets a chance.

Ted Drozdowski with my wine glass.

Back onstage, the man plays a variety of guitars as well as two “diddley bows.” one of which has one string and the other of which has two. One of them is made from a vintage Epiphone guitar and one is built on a lobster pot. These diddley bows, which were used by early musicians who could not afford a guitar, gave Bo Diddley his name. They have an amazing sound, almost like a saw, and Drozdowski uses them to great effect.  He also uses a variety of pedals. He prefers is vintage, from guitars to equipment.

Lobster pot diddley bow

Musically, Drozdowski does a mix of his own material and ‘modernized” versions of old classics.  The original material mixes traditional hill country blues with psychedelic elements in an effective and often somewhat spooky way, as in the title song, “The River,” from his new album. For their take on songs like Fred McDowell’s “WrieMe A Few Of Your Lines,” the band keeps the song recognizable but adds a more modern sound. Drozdowski quotes his great friend and mentor, the late R.L. Burnside, “If it ain’t broke, let’s break it.”

Drozdowski is a natural storyteller, a blues historian, and a skilled musician.To spend an evening with him and his Scissormen is to feel as though you have had a particularly entertaining visit with an old friend. It is an experience you really shouldn’t miss.  Not even for football!

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