Blue Blood

For Big Bill Morganfield, blues runs in the family

 SAT 9/06

Damn right, Big Bill Morganfield's got the blues. Unless you're a diehard blues fan, you might not recognize the Morganfield name. That's because Big Bill's father, McKinley Morganfield, didn't go by his given name. Instead, Bill's daddy took the colorful sobriquet Muddy Waters. The rest, to use a time-honored cliché, is history. Muddy Waters was the Chicago blues scene, pure and simple. "Got My Mojo Workin'" alone would be enough to give him a place in the hall of fame, but that song is only the tiniest piece of a long career filled with big, ol' golden nuggets of blues. Waters passed away in 1983, and 20 years later, Chicago blues has still not recovered. Many people call Buddy Guy the new King of the Chicago Blues. Others threaten to burn those people in effigy. And so it goes.

But Big Bill Morganfield, despite the heritage, remained out of the blues game until much later in life. In fact, it was only after his father's death that he decided to pick up a guitar and try to fill those gigantic shoes. While holding down a teaching job (Morganfield has degrees in English and communications), he learned to play guitar. Then he polished his slide guitar to a fine sheen so he could sound like his daddy. Then he learned songwriting. With this surprising yet superb level of determination, Morganfield played a handful of gigs to immediately welcoming fans before finally dropping his debut album, Rising Son, in 1999. The album included appearances by a clutch of Waters' ex-bandmates: guitarist "Steady Rollin'" Bob Margolin, drummer Willie "Big Eyes" Smith, and piano player "Pinetop" Perkins. While filling out the album's nickname quotient, these players also gave Morganfield an experienced background, something the novice player needed.

Big Bill Morganfield keeps it in the family
Big Bill Morganfield keeps it in the family
Ben Folds tickles the ivory
Ben Folds tickles the ivory
Zach Ziskin writes a zinger of a pop song
Zach Ziskin writes a zinger of a pop song
Even Yeltsin likes them
Even Yeltsin likes them

Ramblin' Mind followed Rising Son in 2001. It was more of the same from a bluesman who seems to improve his skills like some sort of devil-dealing latter-day Robert Johnson. Look for Morganfield's latest work, Blues in the Blood, to hit the shelves in little more than a week. In the meantime, catch the man himself at the Bamboo Room. (25 S. "J" St., Lake Worth). Show starts at 9 p.m. Call 561-585-2583. -- Dan Sweeney

THU 9/4

Ben Folds

Rockin' an Arena Near a Suburb Near You

There was a time in the not-so-distant past when indie pop was in jeopardy. But then, like flowers at an accident scene, there was Ben Folds. The mid-1990s brought the poppy infectious tunes of Ben Folds Five (yes, there were only three of them) to the college-radio crowd with "Underground." Then the senior prom-ready single "Brick" hit the airwaves and all Hades broke loose. In 2000, the trio went their separate ways, and Folds took to the stage solo for the first time. What transpired was a full-length tour called Ben Folds Live chock full of hits such as "One Angry Dwarf and 200 Solemn Faces," and -- OK, here's the Comparison Warning -- the beautiful Billy Joel-tinged "Narcolepsy." His brand-spanking-new five-song EP titled Speed Graphic offers up some older tunes. Folds has also been having some scandalous extramusical affairs. High Fidelity author Nick Hornby wrote about Ben's song "Smoke" in his new book Songbook. You can check out the Foldster with everyone's favorite eccentric, Tori Amos, at Sound Advice Amphitheatre, 601-7 Sansbury's Way, West Palm Beach. Tickets cost $35 to $45, and the show starts at 7 p.m. Call 561-793-0445. -- Audra Schroeder

SAT 9/6

Come to DaDa

Ziskin puts the pop in Popscene

What do you do if modern pop music just ain't modern enough for your liking? Well, you could renounce technology and join an Amish community. Or you could do the sensible thing and check out Fort Lauderdale's Zach Ziskin at DaDa (52 N. Swinton Ave., Delray). With influences ranging from Jeff Buckley and Coldplay to U2 and Jellyfish, Ziskin aims to please those who dig a good, well-crafted studio recording. Whereas many pop bands simply toe the usual indie-rock line (guitar, bass, drums, whining), Ziskin isn't afraid to layer on an eclectic mix of sounds. And where other bands mindlessly pile on track after track without rhyme or reason (is it the drugs?), Ziskin knows how to add to a song without burying the melody. It's all part of his craft. Ziskin performs after an acoustic set by fellow modern popsters the Brite Side as part of DaDa's "Popscene Saturdays" at 10 p.m. Admission is free. Call 561-330-3232. -- Jason Budjinski

FRI 9/5

Red Scare Redux

Any Williamsburg worshipers looking for new blood in the electronic scene need not look further than their own backyard. Brooklyn's Soviet has survived the hype with its savvy approach to the Kraftwerk-style school of songwriting. Though the group's only a few years old, the synth-pop ditties found on its 2001 debut, We Are Eyes, We Are Builders, stray bravely from the monotonous emotionless sounds of their colleagues. Formed in 1999 by Keith Ruggerio and collaborator Chris Otchy as your typical art-school distraction, it wasn't until the duo expanded into a five-piece live act that its infectious electro began to take shape. With hints of Roxy Music and a glorious helping of Duran Duran, Soviet adds a bit of effortless cool to the mounds of tiresome electroclash compilations it's graced. But it's the live show that wins raves, so don't miss Soviet, along with Interpol's Carlos D on the turntables, at Soho Lounge, 175-193 NE 36th St., Miami. Show begins at 11 p.m. and cost is $10. Call 305-576-1988. -- Kiran Aditham

 
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