If you’d ever been to the Gaslight Café located in the basement of 116 MacDougal Street in NYC’s Greenwich Village during the 1960’s, then you probably heard some pretty famous people play there like Wavy Gravy, Phil Ochs and Robert Zimmerman. You may have also had the pleasure of hearing another great: Paul Zisholtz, a.k.a. B.B. Sweetwood. Today, Paul lives in SE Florida where he’s still making music which includes his latest CD titled BB THEN AND NOW.
Listening to Paul is like hearing Randy Newman (think of his classic song Baltimore from his Little Criminals album, 1977, Warner Bros. Records) and Leon Redbone (think of his cover of the Hoagy Carmichael/Johnny Mercer classic Lazy Bones from his On the Track album, 1975, Warner Bros. Records) sing a mellow version of Mississippi Delta blues. With precision chord stammering and wonderfully punctuated finger picking, Paul serenades and swings throughout this ten track collection. Starting off with CITY OF PAIN he tells the tale of a one night stand between two people bound together by desperation and forgiveness. He follows this with my favorite track – PELHAM PARKWAY BLUES – a stroll through his childhood days growing up in the big city. BECAUSE YOU LOVED ME is an homage to the woman of his life, while SAILING THROUGH THE YEARS is a beautiful juxtaposition to Duane Allman’s Happily Married Man (Duane Allman Anthology II, 1974, Island Records). The jinxed HARD LUCK BOY continues in this humorous vein, while JOSHUA AND JENNIFER resounds with the heart felt sincerity of Leonard Cohen’s Suzanne (Songs of Leonard Cohen, 1967, Columbia Records).
Paul continues this album with two metaphorical reprises: DONNA PUT ON YOUR DRESS is the spiritual counterpart to the preceding BECAUSE YOU LOVED ME, and MISTRESS OF THE NIGHT harks back to track one CITY OF PAIN. He then follows these by the hilarious WRONG WAY HOME which tells the tale of a Cadillac driving femme-fatale who terrorizes guitar-case laden hitch hikers on the Massachusetts Turnpike. Then, to bring it all home, Paul completes his CD with TOMORROW, a smile through the clouds song that shimmers with hope and perseverance.
BB THEN AND NOW is a visionary compilation of sights and sounds as seen through the eyes of a poet-musician who saw and did almost all of it, from the Gaslight Café then to SE Florida today. See him at a folk and acoustic venue near you soon!