Who knew the Mississippi Delta blues would connect with music lovers in Germany, Australia and Nepal? Austin Walkin' Cane Charanghat seems a little surprised himself.
"I can't even explain it, really," says the Cleveland-based bluesman, who'll mark the release of his 10th album with a performance at Brothers Lounge July 9. "Over there, you're in some weird little town in the middle of nowhere, and they think, Who's this American guy? Let's go see him. And the whole town will come out."
For the past three years, Walkin' Cane has been preaching the American blues gospel on four continents — just him, his guitar and a stage. He's toured Australia, Nepal, France, Germany, England, Wales and throughout the United States from New Orleans to Juneau, Alaska. The day we talked to him, he was packing for a flight to Los Angeles that would take him to another tour Down Under.
"The first one I did, I went to France," Walkin' Cane says of performing outside the United States. "It was probably the closest thing to being a rock star I've ever had. ... The photographer sent me the photos, and I was like, 'Holy s---! That's a lot of people.' "
Walkin' Cane started touring as a one-man, acoustic act after the economy fell apart and his backing group disbanded. An acquaintance hooked him up with a music booker overseas that put him on his first tour. The rest has grown by word of mouth.
Walkin' Cane's new release, A World of Blues, is a nod to his globe-trotting. It kicks off with a brief, head-spinning mix of radio clips from overseas interviews followed by 13 live songs he recorded at Brothers Lounge.
"I've been playing these stripped-down versions of them for the last two or three years now," he says. "So I thought I'd give the live album a try."