CD review: Blood Washed Band – Driftin’ Along
“Jesus came walkin’ across the water/I came stumblin’ into the bar /Jesus was there and he poured me a tall one/ Then I gave Jesus the keys to my car,” Blood Washed Band frontman Page Burkum confesses on “Pour Me A Whiskey” from the band’s debut, Driftin’ Along, on the Electric Fetus label. It’s no gimmick. Burkham throws this stuff in the faces of the congregation of the House of Mercy Church in Minneapolis ever Sunday. The Blood Washed Band is the church’s house band, playing their brand of whiskey soaked, country flavored gospel music for persistent sinners to come and get washed in the blood.
The old time family style harmony and smooth bluegrass flavored background recall the Delmore Brothers, The Carter Family and the Louvin Brothers and the band does cover some of their music. But on their latest, all but “Standing In The Need of Prayer” are originals that vacillate between drinkin, sinnin’ and salvation.
Along with Jack Torrey, Burkum furthers the brotherly harmony theme in the Cactus Blossoms, performing music of the country and western/old time persuasion.
But the Blood Washed Band stays more or less true to the bloody Baptist tradition of being drenched in the Savior’s blood, adding a splash of whiskey as well.
The title cut is more Sons of the Pioneers than sons of God material. It’s the tale of a one night stand serial stalker/drifter who’s found and conquered girls almost everywhere: “Her eyes will close/her legs will part,” the wandering hit and run ladies man brags before admitting that perhaps he’s looking for another, more meaningful kind of relationship: “all my life I’ve gone astray if I could find God/ He would show me the way.”
The band gets under the bloody shower for “Standing In The Need Of Prayer,” an African-American spiritual recorded by The Sons of the Pioneers, (2001 Memories of the Range) as well as Jimmy Dean, Oak Ridge Boys, Billy Ward and the Dominoes, the Jordainaires and Nat King Cole. This one gallops along at a pace as lively as Sleepy La Beef’s ’94 rendition but with more of the Stanley Brothers version (’05’s Live Again! Wcyb Bristol Farm & Fun Time,) a bluegrass feel with some added twang.
The blood soaked boys tackle Hank Williams’ 1947 record debut “Calling You” with more speed and a bit more punch but with the same lonesome nasal twang intact.
It’s a sinners paradise, a Sunday go-to-meetin’ throwdown with whiskey on the side. Splash around in the blood, imbibe some spirits and stagger home, saved and satiated.