Single I Tomás Doncker – Red Cross Store
Tomás Doncker makes Mississippi Fred McDowell’s classic “Red Cross Store” all his own, turning the song inside-out with Hendrix-tinted soul-rock vibes and devilish backing vocals (contributed by NYC Blues Diva/True Groove All-Star Ms. Regina Bonelli).
While the original is steeped with tension bubbling just under the surface, Doncker elevates the song’s subtle subtext into a full-blown protest anthem that is more relevant than ever in today’s hyperpolitically charged climate.
A longtime fan of McDowell, his relationship with the song goes back over 20 years. “In 1999 I had just gotten out of rehab and I came across ‘I Do Not Play No Rock and Roll’ in a bargain bin at a CD store,” he recalls.
“I was really familiar with Fred McDowell but, for some reason, had never heard (or heard of) that album. It was a wonderful record for me to have at that point in my life, it really is a journey into the heart and history of the delta; and I just fell in love with ‘Red Cross Store.’ He’s a little bit more laid back in his approach than somebody like Son House, but this song is one of his most intense; it cuts through.
Fast forward to earlier this year, and a friend of mine gave me a copy of the album on vinyl. He had no idea I’d been looking for it for years. As soon as I played it, it all came back. ‘Red Cross Store.’ That song, to me, is a slap in the face of racism in the deep south, essentially the KKK.
I had to figure out what it meant, ‘Red Cross people sure do treat you mean.’ I realized the klan sign is a cross surrounded by red. It’s a brilliant metaphor. He wrote about how he’s not going back to any establishments like that because they’re owned by KKK members and they don’t treat black folks right. That sentiment seems so appropriate, particularly for the world we’re living in today. I thought infusing it with a soulful, blues-rock flavor can bring it into the now, and that it’s an important message to send out. It’s not a casual song.”
Website: Tomás Doncker