One of the anchors of the New Orleans blues scene, this almost seven-foot tall artist plays a minimal guitar style with a piercing attack, and goes beyond the standards to write his own brilliant songs.
You Can Hear the Moan
Alabama Slim grew up in the deep countryside outside of Huntsville, Alabama. His parents were sharecroppers, and when he went out to work in the fields, he heard a lot of the people moaning—field hollers, as they’re called. And you can hear that moaning in Slim’s voice.
“I grew up listening to the old blues since I was a child,” Slim says. “I spent summers with my grandparents who had a farm. Them old folks would get to moanin’ while they worked, and I just started moanin’ with them. That’s where I learned to sing.”
Slim is a deep blues singer, with a voice that’s reminiscent of John Lee Hooker or Lightnin’ Hopkins. He grew up listening to the old records of John Lee Hooker, Slim Harpo, and many others.
As a young man, Slim went down to New Orleans, Louisiana, and immediately hooked up with his cousin Little Freddie King. It was Little Freddie who, in the 1990s, introduced Music Maker to Alabama Slim’s playing. The first time we heard Slim play, it was an amazing experience. His guitar style is very minimal, but he plays with a piercing attack. He was also, we soon learned, a wonderful songwriter.
Since he started playing with Music Maker, Alabama Slim has toured all over the world—western Europe, Australia, and throughout the United States, even at venues as prestigious as New York City’s Lincoln Center. He is a deep blues artist, and we were overjoyed to see the critical praise that was heaped on his 2021 album, “The Parlor.”
American Songwriter proclaimed: “Authentic practitioners of the blues are hard to find these days. Most have passed on or are retired, and while there is some young blues talent assuming the mantle out there, it’s impossible to faithfully re-create the sounds of the Delta, Texas and Chicago blues giants whose music influenced a generation of Brits, who, in turn, introduced the blues to a new generation of Americans. Alabama Slim, discovered late in his life, is one of the few remaining bluesmen whose sound is genuine, rooted in the work.”
Alabama Slim is both an anchor of the New Orleans blues scene and a living representative of the earliest American blues styles.
Alabama Slim was born Milton Frazier on March 29, 1939.
Top photo by Tim Duffy.