Payin' Dues: Ted Drozdowski’s Scissormen

Ted Drozdowski’s Scissormen’s sixth album Love And Life was recorded in a studio in a military surplus tent in the woods on the top of a mountain in Pasquo, Tennessee. It features tributes to RL Burnside and Watermelon Slim and a guest spot from Mighty Sam McClain. “It’s an important and evolutionary album for me,” Ted Drozdowski tells The Blues, “and one that I’ve wanted to make for several years.”

Did you establish any rules before making the album?

I wanted every song to tell a story, like Black Lung Fever, which is about my family. I also wanted to layer guitars and bring some of the studio techniques I’ve used when producing other artists into play. And most of all I wanted the album to be fun and to rock.

How did the sessions unfold?

Cutting it in Omega Lab, the tent studio, was part economic necessity and part brotherhood. It was also a stroke of luck, because a tent has zero acoustic reflections, so I got pure, unique sounds. The downside is you have to use the same bathroom as the bears./o:p

Mighty Sam McClain voices Let’s Go To Memphis.

Sam is the last of the absolute, genuine great red clay soul singers. I wanted to hear Sam’s voice on a song I wrote. I’ve also wanted to write a song that evoked the spirit of the romantic Stax ballads that I love. So when I came up with Let’s Go To Memphis, it seemed a perfect fit. Sam’s voice brings the song to life.

RL Burnside was your friend…

I was inspired by his vicious slide attack and bone-rattling amp tone. He had a big heart and showed me that love is a necessary musical ingredient, and that wildness, imagination and unpredictability are essential for bringing music with the deepest roots to life. He was also proud to be himself on stage and to carry the music and the history surrounding the blues forward, so I do that, too.

You cover I Can’t Be Satisfied.

When I turned a beat-to-death old Epiphone guitar into an upright diddley bow, I Can’t Be Satisfied seemed perfect for it. I love Muddy Waters, and I wanted to take the diddley bow into the ‘now’ and take the song out of Chicago and return it to the Delta by way of Mars./o:p

Love And Life is out on Dolly Sez Woof on July 31./o:p