You can’t say the Scissormen lack confidence. For one matter, they’re not exactly a brand-name, but their fifth release is a two disc set, both a live CD and a DVD documentary from film maker Robert Mugge. For another, the hard-driving group is made up of only two members, Ted Drozdowski (guitars and vocals) and R.L. Hulsman (drums and percussion). Lastly, as they proclaim in the album's title song, “Big Shoes,” they believe most blues bands are missing the point. The blues, Drozdowski sings, aren’t “dipped in amber.” They’re not locked into old formulas—the band is out to fill their own “Big Shoes.” For this special release, the duo even kicks in a souvenir metal Scissormen bottle cap. Fortunately for us all, the Scissormen can deliver the goods.
Throughout the 12 number CD, recorded in February 2010 at the Key Palace Theater in Red Key, Indiana, Drozdowski demonstrates serviceable vocals, above average compositional ability, and a soaring, accomplished slide guitar style that merges Southern blues with ‘60s psychedelia. One can be forgiven, from time to time, for thinking we’re hearing a lost “live at the Fillmore” jam. For example, “Tupelo” is where Pink Floyd meets John Lee Hooker. Perhaps there’s a touch of Ten Years After in "Whiskey and Maryjane." In a number of solos, there’s an overt nod to Mississippi Fred McDowell and perhaps some borrowing from speed-master Rory Gallagher. Most importantly, Drozdowski makes it repeatedly clear he feels he’s in the shadow of the late R.L. Burnside. The pair sing songs by Burnside, perform tributes to him, and urge their audience to check out his catalogue.
But despite using so many pieces from the entire blues/rock puzzle, the Scissormen are true originals. One surprise is just how well the tasteful Hulsman fills the holes as the only supporting player. The listener doesn’t miss the presence of a bassist, which gives the pair a distinctive sound. (Hulsman has since been replaced by Matt Snow.) As Drozdowski explains on the DVD, it wasn’t unusual for old blues bands to be only guitars and drums. That’s why open tunings were used to allow for fuller bass sounds.