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Cajun blues musician gets
his mojo working

Brother Dege
Reggie's Music Joint
Chicago, IL
May 16, 2010
Brother Dege Brother Dege

Review by Tony Bonyata
Photos by Willie Archambeault & Heidi Diekelman

Back in the '40s and '50s many a bluesman from the Deep South made the great migration north to Chicago in search of work - primarily for hard laboring jobs not related to music. A few, such as Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon, Big Bill Broonzy, Buddy Guy, Bo Diddley and others, however, not only found work in The Windy City, but fame as well after recording most of their defining 78s, LPS and 45s at Chess Records Studios on 2120 South Michigan Avenue.

Last Sunday night, just a stone's throw from the location of this fabled blues institution (which closed in 1975 and is now home to Willie Dixon's Blues Heaven Foundation), another southern bluesman, Brother Dege, brought back some of the harrowing vibe of early 20th Century Delta blues to this southside neighborhood with a mesmerizing solo acoustic performance at Reggie's Music Joint.

Brother Dege (aka Dege Legg) hails from the heart of Cajun country in Lafayette, LA, and not unlike the hard rock-meets-Southern psychedelic band he's also in, Santeria, his own music completely sidesteps both the Cajun folk and Zydeco music of the region he's from. Instead, Dege taps into a rough-hewed, no-nonsense Delta blues that's steeped in the mythos of early rock n roll & punk and cloaked in an inescapable haze of Southern Gothic imagery. His music is built on the foundation of America's oldest form of the blues, yet Dege manages to update it with a modern currency - something very few so-called blues musicians have been able to successfully pull off over the last couple of decades. Dege's Chicago performance marked the tail end of his national tour in support of his remarkable solo debut Folk Songs of the American Longhair, and the time spent on the road showed. With just his dobro guitar, deep long-snake moan and stomping boot for rhythm he locked into ravenous takes of the manic blues numbers "Hard Row To Hoe" as well as "To Old To Die Young," and kept his audience transfixed through the more introspective numbers "The Girl Who Wept Stones," "House of the Dying Sun" (originally from Santeria's fantastic 2009 Year of the Knife album) and "The Battle of New Orleans," a harrowing and bittersweet ode to post-Katrina New Orleans.

Dege finished out his set with a frenzied blast of distortion, carpet- bombing feedback and manic metallic ghosts as he tore into an extended take of "The Star-Spangled Banner" ala Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock, but, just as soon he left the stage, was immediately called back for the crowd-pleasing breakneck blues encore "The World's Longest Hot Dog."

Brother Dege's hypnotic music is not only a refreshing reminder of what the blues sounded like before musicians such as Muddy Waters ever plugged into an electric amp, but - while also incorporating the ethos of rock bands like The Doors, The Stooges and MC5, along with his trippy vision of Southern imagery - it also just might help deliver this age-old genre to yet another new generation. You damn well better believe this cat's got his mojo working.

You can purchase Brother Dege's Folk Song of the American Longhair CD here: Paypal

For more info on Brother Dege:

For more info on Santeria:

Related articles:

SANTERIA - The new sound of The South - Exclusive interview

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