Only weeks after the world lost the great R.L. Burnside, another stellar light of both the Fat Possum label and music in general has passed away; Paul "Wine" Jones died of cancer in Jackson, Mississippi on Sunday. He was age 59. His two discs Mule (1995) and Pucker Up Buttercup (1999) were pretty much in the similar vein of so many of his labelmates also plucked from obscurity and saddled in Oxford, Mississippi studios by FP chief excavators Matthew Johnson and Bruce Watson: raw, blazing display of an ever-dimming continuum between the roots of Delta jukejoints, Fred McDowell-style ass-shaking repetition and today's primitive blues done with pure spirit. With Junior Kimbrough, Asie Payton, RL Burnside and now Jones gone, that thread gets sadly thinner. Wine's sound was all his own vocabulary, and in the end influenced really by no one but himself and his surroundings. Buttercup is a fractured and odd blues record which at times rips speakers to shreds; it's the sound of someone barely familiar with a studio telling his story (joined by a fellow named Pickle on drums) in distortion-flecked sketches right down to the finale, appropriately titled "I Guess I Fucked It All Up." We at WFMU had the distinct pleasure of witnessing the man in action as he joined Kenny Brown and T-Model Ford for a hard-to-believe-they-were-rocking-AND-drinking-at-9AM live performance on David Suisman's Inner Ear Detour show back in 2004. Listen to his 4-song set here on the FMA, and also check out Pucker Up Buttercup's "Goin' Back Home" from another Inner Ear Detour show here (Real Audio). And, if you get a chance, do check out the excellent DVD documentary You See Me Laughin', which traces the story and the intertwining lives of many of these, the very last of the Hill Country Blues men. A third Jones album was in the works according to the Fat Possum catalog page that was originally due in January.
(this post originally appeared on WFMU's Beware of the Blog, 10/10/2005)