In Wisconsin, a place that I'm sorry to say has me looking at snowflakes in April, spring comes late. For tortured and impatient souls who take to their all-frequency SAD lights to keep body and soul together, this month is the ultimate test. Not only is tax day right there at the hump, the last hard frost in Milwaukee is supposed to be, but often comes after, the 15th.

Is it a conspiracy? Taxes, death and trouble in the shape of flakes say yes, and who I am I to argue? Throw in a nose that is running like a leaky faucet and you could say a pick up is in order. Here's a good one.

Sister Rosetta Tharpe may have the occasional blue day, but you will never find anything less than complete buoyancy in her music. A skillful and completely convincing electric guitarist who drove songs hard with her aggressive playing, she influenced enough artists with just her playing to deserve a spot in the Rock n' Roll Hall Of Fame. (She's not in yet, by the way)

When she opened her mouth and sang, there was never any doubt that this fireball was straight out of the gospel church. An amazing, enthusiastic, riveting singer with more personality in her baby fingernail than most bands will ever possess — again, it's time for her induction. (There is a Facebook page that makes this point. Stop by and help the cause of justice!)

Let me describe the video for Didn't It Rain. It's from a BBC TV show and was shot live at a train station in Manchester. Sister Tharpe arrives by horse drawn carriage and is escorted, quite jauntily, to a stage on the platform where a band awaits. (I think I see Willie Dixon on bass.) Across the sunken divide, on the other the other side of the tracks, an audience is clapping their hands, I'm glad to say on the 2 and the 4. They're sitting in bleachers! I am not making this up. And they either hosed the whole set down to achieve the rainy effect, or the weather cooperated. Wild as it sounds, it is even better when viewed.

I admit I am deathly afraid of performing outside in the rain. I've had my share of shocks and don't want any more, so now I'm a very careful electric guitarist. Sister Rosetta Tharpe is wearing high heels, and I'm assuming they have leather soles. She's playing a gorgeous Gibson SG with three pickups in shining gospel white and looks like she could care less about conditions. I'm assuming she had been right with God for a long time and would have been more than happy to meet him.

She sure was singing like it.


AuthorJohn Sieger