Walkin’ and Singing the Cleveland Blues
The pride of Cleveland faithful came out to The Music Box Supper Club concert hall on Sunday for an evening of blues by native son Austin “Walkin’ Cane” Charanghat. The singer/songwriter guitarist has been recording and playing out for over twenty-five years, traveling the world performing over 300 shows annually mostly as a solo performer. What made this night so special was having a backing band and horn section for the nineteen song, two and a half hour performance.
For those unfamiliar with Charanghat, he suffered from an arterial venous malformation at birth and had later needed use of a cane. While performing on Bourbon Street in New Orleans, a homeless man called out to him “Hey Walkin’ Cane, got some spare change for a brother?” and the nickname stuck. After years of battling the inevitable, his left leg was amputated below the knee in 1996. That same year, he released his first solo record Help Yourself. In 2002, Austin recorded 706 Union Ave at Sun Studios immediately following his wedding ceremony held at the historical Memphis building. Austin was blessed to know blues legend Robert Jr Lockwood and a huge influence with the recording of Murder of a Blues Singer in 2008. His latest release has last year’s One Heart Walkin’ which has been nominated for “Best New Artist Album” by The Blues Foundation for their upcoming 36th Annual Blues Music Awards. The record was co-written by longtime friend and collaborator Chris Allen and produced by the great Don Dixon.
The evening began with Walkin’ Cane playing an acoustic resonator guitar joined by blues harmonica player Dave Morrison and drummer Jim Wall on the Slim Harpo tune “Got Love If You Want It” followed by “Waiting for a Little Sunshine”. After “High Rent Lemon Girl”, all-star bass player Tom Prebish joined in for “Living, Working, Dying”, and “One Heart Walkin’”. Charanghat was looking for a Bo Diddley guitar for twenty some years and finally found one in Louisville, Kentucky on a recent road trip. He broke out the red boxed six string for “Midnight Creep” and the beautiful “South of Lonesome”. Changing it up once again, Charanghat unveiled a 60th Anniversary White Fender Stratocaster that some desperate soul sold him for a mere $150.00 and let loose on “Sweet Tea & Bourbon”. “While The City Sleeps” was written in New York City during one visit around 3:00 AM and the first half closed with Morrison featured on harp during “Troubled Woman, Troubled Man”.
After a short break, round two brought the Revolution Brass Band featuring Jacob Wynne (trumpet), Kris “Skinny K” Morron (trombone), Matt “Cutty” Banner (sousaphone), and Davey “Gravy” Kasper (saxophone) blazing through “Can’t Turn You Loose”, “Doin’ the Lindy Hop”, “Who’s Gonna Love You”, and “Do As Your Mama Says” featuring a great solo from Wynne. The entire band brought the house down jamming through “Drinkin’ Tanqueray” and ended the evening appropriately with “Why I Sing The Blues”.
Keep Austin “Walkin’ Cane” on your radar … he just may be passing through your town. Tell him you heard about him from his good friends at No Depression.
Photo by Martha Gunn Andrus