Asie Payton: Worried
Asie Payton was a full-time farmer and part-time bluesman from Holly Ridge, Mississippi, who died of a heart attack at age 60 while driving his tractor. For two years prior to his death in 1997, Payton resisted overtures to record his music. Fortunately, however, he eventually consented to make two demo tapes for Fat Possum Records. Both brief sessions are reproduced on this excellent 10-track CD.
If you're into eccentric Delta blues and don't mind a few contemporary touches, Worried is well worth checking out. Payton was an unschooled musician who played on Saturday nights in a grocery store, so his brand of blues was gritty and countrified, similar to label-mates Junior Kimbrough and R.L. Burnside. Most of the tracks collected here originally featured Payton on vocals and electric guitar with Sam Carr's drums providing the only backing. As with Burnside's Fat Possum release Come On In, the label opted to fatten Payton's sound by adding overdubs and a hop-hop flavor to a couple tracks.
The hip-hop touches are interesting in small doses, and they work best on "I Love You," a funky track that sounds like Medeski, Martin and Wood connecting with Bukka White. "All I Need Is You" is actually a loose and soulful cover of Ivory Joe Hunter's "Since I Met You Baby." Other highlights include a funky remake of Joe Tex's "Skinny Legs," a raw solo performance of Muddy Waters' "Can't Be Satisfied," and a sparer version of Payton's "I Love You."
Worried represents the complete recorded legacy of a backwoods bluesman who shunned potential stardom so he could farm. Too bad we won't hear more from Asie Payton, but at least he left some great music behind. Kudos to Fat Possum for keeping their blues rugged.