Remembering T-Model Ford
The music of James Lewis Carter Ford, who passed on July 16, is not pretty. A sawmill worker who spent a good portion of his youth in jail (including a chain gang stint for murder), he allegedly received a guitar as a going-away present from his fifth wife. He was discovered in the '90s by Fat Possum Records, the label that would go on to release his albums as T-Model Ford, with darkly comic titles like Pee Wee Get My Gun. His greasy, rocking style of blues is loaded with attitude and rawness, from the galloping "T-Model Theme Song" to the funky, harmonica-driven "Red's Houseparty." He had a flair for mood as well as jamming -- the extended acoustic "Hip Shaking Woman" trudges along for 10 minutes. His voice was a throaty, raspy, captivating mess of youthful rage and weathered age, and sublimely dirty moments like "I'm Insane" or "Chicken Head Man" bring none other than Howlin' Wolf to mind.