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Welcome to WeenieCampbell.com

Preserving Country Blues through Education, Performance and Technology
Slack
November 17, 2011, 06:27:11 PM by Slack
Views: 1378 | Comments: 0

Robert Pete Williams - I'm As Blue As I Can Be
Written by John Miller

Robert Pete Williams - I'm As Blue As I Can Be, Arhoolie CD-394       

This CD presents performances by Robert Pete Williams that, with one exception ("Tippin' In"), were recorded by Dr. Harry Oster in 1959 and 1960, when Robert Pete was still incarcerated at Angola Penitentiary in Louisiana.  The music from these sessions seems one of the purest manifestations of Robert Pete's unique approach to music-making.  The sound of his guitar and the way he used it, the way he phrased vocally, and his take on the blues form all existed at that time at a pretty extreme remove from the blues as they are most often played and sung.  This, combined with the fact that Dr. Oster was able and willing to let Robert Pete play songs for as long as he wanted as he was recorded makes for an exceptionally rich representation of Robert Pete's music.

The program opens with "Pardon Denied Again", played in E minor, standard tuning, with extreme bends of the G string up to a unison with the B string.  Phrasing begins in a very free-form fashion and eventually evolves into a more conventional form that bears some resemblence to Blind Willie Johnson's "Lord, I Just Can't Keep From Crying Sometimes".  On this song and elsewhere throughout the program, Robert Pete's lyrics so far transcend the stylistic cliches of the genr...
Slack
November 17, 2011, 06:26:21 PM by Slack
Views: 1489 | Comments: 0

Dan Gellert--Waitin' On The Break Of Day    
Written by John Miller      

Dan Gellert--Waitin' On The Break Of Day, www.orphonon.com

I have not been able to stop listening to this new Dan Gellert CD since purchasing it from him a couple of weeks ago.  Dan Gellert is something of an underground legend in the Old Time music community, and the fact that he does not often make the round of fiddler's conventions and is severely under-recorded add a heightened interest to discussions of his music and musicianship.  On this, his first solo recording project, Dan sings and plays fretless banjo on nine cuts and fiddle on seven cuts.  The notes on the CD are brief and to the point, presenting the tunings employed on his gut-strung and steel-strung banjos and his fiddle on the various tunes and providing sources for the tunes, choosing not to include biographical information that might go to explain how Dan got to where he is today musically.  After listening to the CD repeatedly, all I can say is that however Dan got to where he is musically today, he is THERE, right now, and there can be no question about it. As a player, both on fretless banjo and fiddle, Dan Gellert hits the ground improvising.  He has in spades that most mysterious of skills of the great Old Time players:  the ability to spin a seemingly endless skein of variations on a tune while ...
Slack
November 17, 2011, 06:25:41 PM by Slack
Views: 1202 | Comments: 0

Furry Lewis, Bukka White & Friends: Party!   
Written by John Miller

Furry Lewis, Bukka White & Friends: Party! At Home-Arcola Records, A CD 1001
      
This wonderful CD was recorded by Arcola Records founder Bob West in 1968, at a couple of home recording sessions/parties, one at the home of Albino Red and two at Furry Lewis's apartment.  The relaxed circumstances in which the recordings were made certainly had a beneficial effect on the music; Bukka White and Furry Lewis are both in outstanding form here, and placing the songs in the context of the parties where they were recorded and including the jocularity and banter of the various friends assembled for the event makes you feel as though you were there yourself.  It really sounds like all concerned had a darn good time.

The program, which is divided roughly equally between Furry and Bukka, is opened by Bukka, with"Hello Central, Give Me 49", a one-chord slide number in Vastapol.  From the opening notes, I found myself staggered by the force of Bukka's playing--it put me in mind of Charlie Patton's aside on "34 Blues":  "My God, what solid power!"  Bukka follows up with "Gray-Haired Woman", similarly in cross-note tuning and working from the "Aberdeen, Mississippi" model, but with a crucial difference:  on "Gray-Haired Woman", Bukka employs a lot of syncopated thumb-popping of the fifth string in conjunction ...
Slack
November 17, 2011, 06:25:00 PM by Slack
Views: 695 | Comments: 0

Sunnyland Slim-Long Tall Daddy   
Written by John Miller

Sunnyland Slim-Long Tall Daddy, Arcola Records A CD 1006   
      
The Blues pianist and singer Albert "Sunnyland Slim" Luandrew was born in 1907 near Vance, Mississippi, 20-30 miles southeast of Clarksdale, and died on March 17, 1995.  A listing of performers with whom he played or recorded over the course of his career reads like a "Who's Who" of Blues musicians from the '30s on up to the '80s and '90s, with Little Brother Montgomery, Roosevelt Sykes, Lonnie Johnson, Robert Johnson, Bill Broonzy, Sonny Boys I and II, Muddy Waters, and Robert Lockwood, Jr. numbered among them.  This CD captures a session recorded by Arcola founder Bob West aboard his houseboat on May 7, 1976, during a trip Slim was paying to Seattle accompanied by the youthful Sarah Streeter, who was later to gain recognition as the Chicago blues singer Big Time Sarah.
Slim opens the program with "I'm Tore Up", a rollicking shuffle that lays its cards right on the table:  "I'm tore up, people just as drunk as I can be".  Slim's musical strengths similarly are on display from the word go.  His time is really strong, his reach quite large, and he likes thick scrunchy chordal voicings.  He particularly likes to employ tremolo with the sustain pedal depressed.  That sound reminds me a bit of the great South African Jazz pianist Abdullah Ibrahim.  S...
Slack
November 17, 2011, 06:24:03 PM by Slack
Views: 1156 | Comments: 9

Babe Stovall-The Old Ace
Written by John Miller

Babe Stovall-The Old Ace Arcola Records A CD 1005

This CD offers 13 songs by, and three brief interviews with, Babe Stovall, a Mississippi-born New Orleans street musician, recorded by Arcola Records founder Bob West in July of 1968.  David Evans's informative liner notes tell us that  Babe was born on October 4, 1907 near Tylertown, Mississippi, approximately 100 miles North of New Orleans, in a part of the state that the blues had not really reached at that time.  Partially as a result of his birthplace, Babe's repertoire tended toward a lot of cut-time pre-Blues material of a type one would not normally associate with a Mississippi player, with a predilection for playing in C and G in standard tuning rather than the Spanish and E standard tunings that you might expect from a delta musician of that era. 
  Babe was also certainly not averse to picking up songs from recordings or wherever else he might hear them.  In the three or four years prior to these recordings being made, Babe had done a bit of touring in the U.S., playing in Boston, New York, Southern California and San Francisco, being taken on his tours by a young musician, Mark Ryan, who had discovered Babe playing in New Orleans and had been impressed by his music.  Babe passed away on September 21, 1974.

  What of Babe's music, then?  He was what ...
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