Give Scissormen’s Ted Drozdowski and Matt Snow a guitar, a drum kit and an audience and they will do something you don’t expect — from summoning the ghosts of the Mississippi Delta and hill country to casting a psychedelic trance to standing on top of your table and using every glass, knife, fork, cell phone and dinner plate to play six-string slide and percussion.
Scissormen’s incomparable energy and playful spirit are captured for the first time in BIG SHOES: Walking and Talking the Blues, a two-disc set featuring acclaimed roots music documentary film maker Robert Mugge’s movie starring the band and a live audio disc recorded during the February 2010 filming at the historic Key Palace Theater in snowy Red Key, Indiana.
The 90-minute feature is a blend of concert film, road movie, blues history and state-of-the-genre report by the director of such classics as Gospel According to Al Green, Saxophone Colossus (starring Sonny Rollins), Deep Blues and New Orleans Musicians in Exile. BIG SHOES: Walking and Talking the Blues debuted at the 2010 Starz Denver Film Festival and has screened aboard the Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise, at the Gasparilla Film Festival in Tampa and at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston.
The BIG SHOES CD is Scissormen’s fifth album. Among the new songs debuted in the disc’s 15 tracks are the movie’s theme song “Big Shoes,” which Scissormen frontman Drozdowski describes as a “blues protest number.” The tune is also a musical journey, starting with basic country blues licks and traveling to a place were the sounds of Africa, the late Junior Kimbrough and Pink Floyd are equally at home. Another new entry is “R.L. Burnside,” a true story of a night Drozdowski spent with the musical mentor who inspired him to found the band 10 years ago, performed as an electric country blues. And there’s “Delta Train,” a ghost story set to a riveting Mississippi stomp.
Both the film and the album feature original Scissormen drummer R.L. Hulsman and were made during a tour that reunited him and Drozdowski. Berklee College of Music graduate Matt Snow joined Scissormen full-time in November 2010, relocating to the band’s Nashville home base to purse his love of Mississippi grooves and to join Drozdowski in forging a shared vision of deeply rooted contemporary American music.