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At least once in every man's life everything seems to come together magically. When the road leading to such times is long and grueling, the zenith becomes exponentially more rewarding. Bill Homans a.k.a. Watermelon Slim is the extraordinary wheel man behind this redemption story road trip.
Watermelon Slim
     In December 2006 Watermelon Slim garnered a record-tying six 2007 Blues Music Award nominations for Artist, Entertainer, Album, Band, Song, and Traditional Album of the Year. Only the likes of B.B. King, Buddy Guy and Robert Cray have ever landed six. His 2006 self-titled release was ranked #1 in MOJO Magazine's 2006 Top Blues CDs, won the 2006 Independent Music Award for Blues Album of the Year, hit #1 on the Living Blues Radio Chart, debuted at #13 on the Billboard Blues Radio Chart ahead of both Robert Cray and North Mississippi Allstars, and won the Blues Critic Award for 2006 Album of the Year.

     In April, 2007 Watermelon Slim and The Workers released The Wheel Man, his second for NorthernBlues Music and his fourth album in five years. Jerry Wexler, a huge Watermelon Slim fan after hearing Slim's 2005 self-titled release, eagerly offered to write the liner notes upon listening to early tracks saying Slim "is a one-of-a-kind pickin' 'n'n singing Okie dynamo." The CD hit #1 on the Living Blues Radio Charts, #2 on the Roots Music Blues Charts and debuted in the Top 10 in Billboard's Blues charts.

     The Memphis Flyer led it's terrific CD review with the question "Does anyone in modern pop music have a more intriguing biography than Bill "Watermelon Slim" Homans?" Slim was born in Boston and raised in North Carolina listening to his maid sing John Lee Hooker and other blues songs around the house. His father was a progressive attorney and ex-freedom rider and his brother is now a classical musician. Slim dropped out of Middlebury College to enlist for Vietnam. While laid up in a Vietnam hospital bed he taught himself upside-down left-handed slide guitar on a $5 balsawood model using a triangle pick cut from a rusty coffee can top and his Army issued Zippo lighter as the slide.

     Returning home an fervent anti-war activist, Slim first appeared on the music scene with the release of the only known record by a veteran during the Vietnam War. The project was Merry Airbrakes, a 1973 protest tinged LP with tracks Country Joe McDonald later covered.

     In the following 30 plus years Slim has been a truck driver, forklift operator, sawmiller (where he lost part of his finger), firewood salesman, collection agent, and even officiated funerals. At times he got by as a small time criminal. At one point he was forced to flee Boston where he played peace rallies, sit-ins and rabbleroused musically with the likes of Bonnie Raitt.

     He ended up farming watermelons in Oklahoma - hence his stage name and current home base. Somewhere in those decades Slim completed two undergrad degrees in history and journalism.

     While roommates, buddies and musical partner with the heavy drinking Henry 'Sunflower' Vestine of Canned Heat, Slim was able to finish a masters degree and member of Mensa, the social networking group reserved for members with certified genius IQs.

     Throughout his storied past, it has always been truck driving that Slim returned to. While trucking and hauling industrial waste for thankless bosses at hourly wages to support himself and his family, his id yearned for release of the musician inside. Many of Slim's current songs began a cappella in his rig keeping him awake and entertained.

     In 2002 Slim suffered a near fatal heart attack. His brush with death gave him a new perspective on mortality, direction and life ambitions. He says, "Everything I do now has a sharper pleasure to it. I've lived a fuller life than most people could in two. If I go now, I've got a good education, I've lived on three continents, and I've played music with a bunch of immortal blues players. I've fought in a war and against a war. I've seen an awful lot and I've done an awful lot. If my plane went down tomorrow, I'd go out on top."


 

Ronnie McMullen Jr played his first gig when he was 15, his mentor Norman Atherton introduced him as "Little Ronnie Mack". " Norman was my dad's childhood friend, he taught me to play guitar, and we all shared a love of the blues." In 2002 Ike Lamb introduced Ronnie to Sweet Brenda. Ronnie played with Brenda's band for a total of 4 years. In 2006 they participated in the International Blues Challenge in Memphis. Ronnie has also been a member of the Scott Keeton Band. Ronnie has shared the stage with many great artists but here are a few: Bo Diddley, Big George Brock, Magic Slim, Jimbo Mathus, and most recently Buddy Guy. Ronnie has been traveling the world as a member of Watermelon Slim & The Workers since 2006.

"I thank God for giving me the gift of music, and all of those who have given me the oppurtunity to play the blues."

Cliff Belcher

On the electric bass, we have Cliff Belcher. Born and raised in Fort Worth, Texas, Cliff started playing bass at 15. In 1974 Cliff went to a Lynyrd Skynyrd concert in and saw The Texas Cannon Ball, Freddie King, "kick the crap out of those young white boys." In 1984 Cliff moved down to Austin and got to see and play with some of the world's best blues players. While in Austin, Cliff was fortunate to be a part of recording projects that included Doyle Bramhall Sr. as producer. Next came more time touring and recording with bands in Austin, Fort Worth, Dallas, and Colorado Springs. In 1988, Cliff moved to Oklahoma City where he has stayed busy recording and touring with the best bands in the area such as Big G, The Snakeshakers, and now Watermelon Slim & The Workers.

Myspace: myspace.com/cliffbelcher Email: clifford_b2001@yahoo.com

Chris Stovall Brown

Drummer Chris Stovall Brown has worn many hats in the music industry-starting drums at the age of six, playing gigs with R&B/Blues giants like Big Mama Thornton & Sil Austin while still in his teens, playing harmonica with Luther Georgia Boy Johnson and George Harmonica Smith in his early twenties as well as playing guitar with Bo Diddley, Howard Tate, James Cotton and many others. He co-produced Watermelon Slim's first disc (that later became split up between BIG SHOES TO FILL and UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL). and has appeared on recordings with Earring George Mayweather, Sax Gordon, Ron Levy, Weepin Willie as well as many others. He has come full circle back to the drums to back up long time compadre Watermelon Slim.

Past Workers

Michael Newberry

 

On drums, we have Michael Newberry. Michael has been a part of the mid-western music scene since his early days as drummer for the legendary Fortune Tellers. After a long stay and four French records for the New Rose label, Michael took over the drummer's chair for Norman's short lived but highly explosive roots-rock band the Ban-Lons. After recording their album for Lunacy Records, Michael joined San Diego's Forbidden Pigs for a few tours before coming home to form The Deviants with Scott Keeton. Michael has played drums a dozen times for Bo Diddley and for Bob Margolin, Carey Bell, Hubert Sumlin and Robert Lockwood Jr.

Ike Lamb

 

 

Ike Lamb, electric guitar and on occasion, electric bass. Ike is simply one of the most talented and versatile players around. Ike has a long history as a member of the well-known Midwest Band, Scott Keaton & The Deviants. Ike also has played with the popular Pinky and The Snakeshakers, and fronted his own band Ike Lamb & The Law for nine years too. Ike has also shared the stage with national players such as Bo Diddley.











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