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Pine Bluffing

Texan Joe Cripps is finally coaxing a new record out of Delta blues legend CeDell Davis

"And the main guy I want to come to is the drummer," Davis said, wrapping up his instructions to the band. "I want him to do a little solo on the drums. You understand what I'm saying? When I nod my head, I want everybody else to stop. I want you to kick them drums. And you have to kick the bottom outta 'em. Kick 'em. And look, I'm gonna cut it short. Ain't going through pointing out stuff. This is fast time, 6/8 time. Yessir."

By the time Davis came to Martin and Cripps's solo, the song had fallen apart to the point where it could no longer be recognized by anything other than dental records.

CeDell Davis has told friends he's 72 for the last three birthdays in a row.
CeDell Davis has told friends he's 72 for the last three birthdays in a row.

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"Oh, God," Buck groans when reminded of the give-the-drummer-some train wreck. Since he's been standing by Davis for much of the sessions, he's become the de facto bandleader. "That's how it works -- if you're next to him, you're the bandleader," Buck says. "Everything we did on the record is a first take. He plays in G, but basically you have to listen to him to figure out what riff goes where, because every G that he plays is different than the next one. And you don't really know what's going to be on the record, and what he's fooling with, and what's important…But, you know, hey, I'm in for it. I like to think on my feet. This is a musical experience. Once he and R.L. Burnside are gone, that's it. It's all going to be people just like me, whether they're black or white, that grew up hearing it secondhand."

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