The Blues started out in over a hundred years ago as a rural music, and many of the originators of Blues music wrote songs with agricultural themes, with work songs, or ballads about crops or pests or the weather, and about their own dogs and mules. Old country harp players might imitate farmyard animals in their wailing cries, barks and moans, but a more recent Blues player has gone the whole nine yards and called himself after a domesticated ‘critter’. It would be hard to find a man with deeper roots in the Delta than Super Chikan.
Super Chikan plays cigar-box guitar with the all-girl band ‘Fightin’ Cocks’ at a Chicago Festival;
The guitar in question might be fashioned from a gasoline can, a cigar box or a double or triple-necked adaptation of a standard guitar, or an updated diddley-bow. All these were electrified home-made devices, and were later to be joined by others made from a bejewelled hubcap, a Harley fuel tank, the ‘Bad Boy’ (which resembled Bo Diddley‘s signature tool), Obama and Seagal specials to commemorate the ’08 election and a tour with Steven Seagal’s ‘Thunderbox’, and even one made from a shotgun. All these instruments are beautifully decorated works of art in themselves, and he kindly gave one to the equally eccentric Bluesman, Seasick Steve. Chikan uses them to play slide and fingerpicking boogies that would not be out of place at his Uncle’s juke-joint, but his style is not limited by convention, incorporating funk-tinged Soul ballads and funny stories into a hugely entertaining live set.
Chikan’s shotgun guitar at the ‘Ground Zero’ club;
Super Chikan’s recording career began in 1997, with ‘Blues Comes Home to Roost’, and he has produced a fine album every couple of years since then. Extremely popular on the club and Festival scene, Chikan has toured Europe several times, and played in Russia, Africa and Japan as well as on many domestic tours. His album ‘Chikadelic’ was recorded in Norway, and won the 2010 Blues Music Award for Best Traditional Blues Album, and his latest release ‘Okiesippi Blues’ is an album of duets with harp player and lap-steel guitarist Watermelon Slim. An almost life-long resident of Clarksdale, Chikan has enjoyed a long-running residency at ‘Ground Zero’, Morgan Freeman’s renowned club in the town.