Future Shock

Gumbo gazes into his crystal ball and tells us what to expect in jazz, blues and heritage as we approach 2001

Blues, 2001: There will be a tremendous increase in the number of white bluesmen, and albino Johnny Winter will replace Eric Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughan as the ultimate white blooze dude. The best-selling blues release of the year will make the pop charts with a hit single bemoaning computer viruses and the rising cost of wine coolers.

Delmark's blues department hands over Zora Young's first release, Learned My Lesson; the deep-voiced, finger-pointing big mama singing with one foot in church and the other upside her cheatin' man's ass. Also check out the reissue of obscure guitarist Jimmy Johnson's Pepper's Hangout from 1977, and Michael Coleman's wonderfully flashy Do Your Thing! (Delmark) featuring his take on Santana's "Black Magic Woman." This one sucks, this one blows, literally: This Is the Blues Harmonica samples the rich catalogues of Carey Bell, Little Walter, Junior Wells and a dozen other Chicago harp gods.

Rounder Records will celebrate its 30th anniversary with the Rounder Heritage Series, 30 compilations culled from its classy ranks. Three blues collections released this month: The Blues'll Make You Happy, Too by Roomful of Blues; pianist/singer Champion Jack Dupree's A Portrait of Champion Jack Dupree; and the smooth tonsils of New Orleans' Johnny Adams on There Is Always One More Time. From Malaco, the best rhythm and blues label in the world, comes diva Shirley Brown's Holding My Own. "Saw you in a tongue-lock with a girl on the avenue," she wails. Tell him, girlfriend.

Traditional American Music, 2001: Folk and bluegrass musicians, tired of being relegated to toothless and granny-gowned audiences in the southeast, will pursue bigger bucks by aping the highly successful Béla Fleck & The Flecktones. Crescent wrenches and carburetor parts will be glued onto dirty-gray fiddles and mandolins for that sci-fi effect, and many bands will feature someone with a stupid name, permanently dressed for Halloween.

How you gonna pass on an album with songs like "Howard Johnson's Got His Ho-Jo Working" and "Who Put the Garlic in the Glue?" Scraps (Rounder) is a reissue of a 1971 session recorded by NRBQ, known as the world's ultimate bar band for being able to play polkas, rockabilly and the wacko jazz of Sun Ra all in the same set. Unit of Measure (Rounder) by The Tony Rice Unit unleashes the world's best acoustic guitarist on a mixed set of both jazz and bluegrass standards, several played unaccompanied.

World Music, 2001: The Irish will dump the soothing bagpipes-for-the-bathtub music trend and, in an attempt to repeat the Riverdance phenomenon, get down to brass knuckles. Gangs of Pogues-worshiping ruffians will be hired by choreographers to meld the mosh pit with the mindset of Fight Club for an Easter extravaganza. No stateside venues will book them for fear of auditorium damage, relegating them to appearances in hundreds of Protestant and Catholic churches.

On State of Grace (Windham Hill), spacy synth meets female Irish warbling à la the Titanic soundtrack. All those potato munchers snuffing each other leaves more copies of this attractively moody album for the rest of us. Nakai/Eaton/Clipman/Nawang In a Distant Place (Canyon Records) couples Native American and Tibetan flute traditions of R. Carlos Nakai and Nawang Khechog with the percussion of Will Clipman and guitar of William Eaton.

Soundtrack to the biggest party in the world: All of the favelas, or ghettos, of Rio de Janeiro spend the entire year readying themselves for carnival by building floats, creating sexy and elaborately feathered outfits and writing a theme song to represent themselves in the parade. This Is Samba! Vol. 1 and 2 (Rounder) presents some of the previous carnivals' best singers/composers. For optimum results, cue up the CDs, duct tape unplucked poultry to your nether regions, wiggle furiously. Fun for the entire family.

Stuff to buy that will make you better than your friends: Owning boxed sets means that anyone seeing them on your entertainment center automatically understands that you are deep, you are knowledgeable, you have become a music historian right in the privacy of your condominium. Sometimes they're even worth listening to, as is the case with these three thorough tributes to music of the South.

Forty years ago, folklorist/schoolteacher Chris Strachwitz hung up his chalkboard eraser to discover and record unknown musicians in the deep South, resulting in the discovery of blues guitarist Mance Lipscomb and zydeco king Clifton Chenier. Arhoolie Records 40th Anniversary Collection: 1960-2000 (Arhoolie) chronicles the obscure folk music found and released on albums that often sold strictly because of R. Crumb's hippie cover art. Tex-Mex, gospel, blues, folk, polkas, jazz -- the box's contents parallel and expand what's found on the Rounder series of fellow folklorist Alan Lomax's Southern explorations.

From the Stax label comes Lifetime, a three-CD perspective on the career of soul man Johnnie Taylor, who drifted downward from the righteous job as Sam Cooke's replacement in The Soul Stirrers to 1976's reprehensible hit "Disco Lady." Fortunately, the late singer wrapped it up with exceptionally strong material like the nasty, minor-key blues "Last Two Dollars." Next to Bobby Blue Bland, Taylor's the patriarchal R&B artist of recent times most worth checking out.

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