The Ten Foot Polecats
“I Get Blamed for Everything I do”
Hillgrass Bluebilly Records - HBE00B02
Review By Georgetown Fats
The Blues emanating from the North Mississippi Hill Country are characterized by an uncompromisable down home sound. While their colleagues in the Delta moved north to Chicago in search of a better life, North Mississippi Hill Country musicians stayed home. The musicians of the North Mississippi Hill Country passed up pompadours, sharkskin suits and personas for hard agricultural based existence. With few outside influences, this hardscrabble existence seeps into every note of the music.
Though the Ten Foot Polecats are not a North Mississippi Hill Country act, their ties to the music and pathos are undeniable. Rather then water-down their sound with rock roots, or churn out another Chicago Blues disk the Ten Foot Polecats embraced their lo-fi blues punk roots to offer up their first full length release on the Hillgrass Bluebilly Records. “I Get Blamed for Everything I do”, released on March 23rd, is 13 tracks of raw Deep Blues Punk.
The Ten Foot Polecats are Jay Scheffler on vocals and harp, Jim Chilson on the five-string guitar Dave Darling on the drums. From the opening strains of “Chickenhead Man”, a cover of a T-Model Ford classic, the Polecats pay homage to their roots and musical mentors, but go beyond imitating the existing North Mississippi Hill Country sound by adding a punk level of energy.
“So good to me”, penned by Scheffler, proves the band are not just punks. Chilson and Darling groove on a slow and sleazy blues riff while Scheffler howls and spits out lyrics in a style reminiscent of the great Chester Burnett.
The Polecats once again stomp on the gas and hit breakneck speed from the opening of Tommy Johnson’s “Big Road”. "Big Road" is a cover song that is always well received in live performances has been reproduced perfectly on the disk. No ounce of energy is wasted. Scheffler howls and snarls out his vocals while offering some lead work on the harp, Darling’s work on the drums is nothing short of primal, and Chilson’s picks and strums a polyrhythmic guitar at a frenetic pace.
Much like the b-sides to an old 45, The Polecats instrumental “Scratch Ticket” offers a great change-of-pace in the middle of the disk. They may be directed by their blues/punk roots but “Scratch Ticket” is by far more than a 1 chord rocker.
“I’m going crazy”, a holdover from the “Sterno Soup” EP, was given just a few tweaks from the initial recording. Kudos to Sean Wertheim at Nobscot Studios for proving adept capturing the true tone of the band in a lo-fi setting and squeezing just a little bit more out of an already strong track. “Barhoppin” shows that Chilson can do more with a bottle neck than just swill whiskey from it, and “A Couple of More Miles” is probably my personal favorite of the original material. This reviewing can not recall another ballad based off a run-in with the local police. Chilson and Scheffler offer up a poignant scene, albeit with just a little tongue-in-cheek humor.
Paying tribute to two more mentors, “I Get Blamed for Everything I do” closes with covers from Charley Patton and RL Burnside’s catalogs. Both tracks pay tribute to the original recordings without rehashing the tunes note-for-note.
By offering up an updated version of the North Mississippi Hill Country music The Ten Foot Polecats have garnered support within the Deep Blues, Psycho-Billy and Traditional Blues circuits. Having been signed to the Hillgrass Bluebilly Records label The Ten Foot Polecats will have the support of a label that has embraced acts representing the roots of American Music. With record label support, networking and a string of blazing live shows, expect more great releases from this trio.
The Ten Foot Polecats will be on tour nationally supporting “I get Blamed for everything I do”. For more information check them out at;
In addition to being a non-caped crusader, Georgetown Fats is a monthly contributor to The Boston Blues Society newsletter and chief cook and bottle washer at the Boston Blues, Brews & BBQ Blog.