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Preserving Country Blues through Education, Performance and Technology
November 17, 2011, 06:27:49 PM by Slack
Views: 2066 | Comments: 0

Jimmy Lee Williams - Hoot Your Belly
Written by John Miller

Jimmy Lee Williams - Hoot Your Belly, Fat Possum Records, FP1009-2   
I have my friend Phil Thorne to thank for bringing this CD to my attention and for loaning it to me at the EBA Blues Week this past August. I was very favorably impressed by the several cuts I listened to then, and resolved to pick up the CD when I returned to the States. I finally bought it about a week ago and really have not felt like listening to anything else since then.

Jimmy Lee Williams is (or perhaps was, the CD gives no indication as to whether he is still living) a farmer, residing in Porlan, Georgia, who was recorded by the blues researcher George Mitchell in 1977 and 1982. On these recordings, Jimmy Lee, who was born in 1925, accompanies himself on solo electric guitar. His music shows a bewildering variety of influences; you really can not peg him as falling into a particular sub-genre of blues based on his age, region, instrumental/vocal approach, or choice of material. Rather, as you listen to him (particularly with repeated listening) you settle back into the sound of his strong vocals and solidly rhythmic accompaniments, whatever the character of the individual songs may be.

The opening numbers on the CD are especially distinctive, and are the most individualistic-sounding portion of the program. ...
November 17, 2011, 06:27:11 PM by Slack
Views: 2323 | Comments: 0

Robert Pete Williams - I'#039m As Blue As I Can Be
Written by John Miller

Robert Pete Williams - I'#039m As Blue As I Can Be, Arhoolie CD-394       

This CD presents performances by Robert Pete Williams that, with one exception ("quotTippin'#039 In"quot), were recorded by Dr. Harry Oster in 1959 and 1960, when Robert Pete was still incarcerated at Angola Penitentiary in Louisiana. nbsp The music from these sessions seems one of the purest manifestations of Robert Pete'#039s unique approach to music-making. nbsp 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. nbsp 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'#039s music.

The program opens with "quotPardon Denied Again"quot, played in E minor, standard tuning, with extreme bends of the G string up to a unison with the B string. nbsp Phrasing begins in a very free-form fashion and eventually evolves into a more conventional form that bears some resemblence to Blind Willie Johnson'#039s "quotLord, I Just Can'#039t Keep From Crying Sometimes"quot. nbsp On this song and elsewhere throughout the program, Robert Pete'#039s lyrics so far transcend the stylistic ...
November 17, 2011, 06:26:21 PM by Slack
Views: 2410 | Comments: 0

Dan Gellert--Waitin'#039 On The Break Of Day    
Written by John Miller    nbsp  

Dan Gellert--Waitin'#039 On The Break Of Day,

I have not been able to stop listening to this new Dan Gellert CD since purchasing it from him a couple of weeks ago. nbsp 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'#039s conventions and is severely under-recorded add a heightened interest to discussions of his music and musicianship. nbsp On this, his first solo recording project, Dan sings and plays fretless banjo on nine cuts and fiddle on seven cuts. nbsp 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. nbsp 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. nbsp He has in spades that most mysterious of skills of the great Old Time players: nbsp the ability to spin a seemingly endless skein of variations on a t...
November 17, 2011, 06:25:41 PM by Slack
Views: 1994 | Comments: 0

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

Furry Lewis, Bukka White &amp 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'#039s apartment. nbsp 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. nbsp 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"quotHello Central, Give Me 49"quot, a one-chord slide number in Vastapol. nbsp From the opening notes, I found myself staggered by the force of Bukka'#039s playing--it put me in mind of Charlie Patton'#039s aside on "quot34 Blues"quot: nbsp "quotMy God, what solid power!"quot nbsp Bukka follows up with "quotGray-Haired Woman"quot, similarly in cross-note tuning and working from the "quotAberdeen, Mississippi"quot model, but with a crucial difference: nbsp on "quotGray-Haired Woman"quot, Bukka employs a lot of syncopated thumb-popping of the fift...
November 17, 2011, 06:25:00 PM by Slack
Views: 1291 | 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 "quotSunnyland Slim"quot Luandrew was born in 1907 near Vance, Mississippi, 20-30 miles southeast of Clarksdale, and died on March 17, 1995. nbsp A listing of performers with whom he played or recorded over the course of his career reads like a "quotWho'#039s Who"quot of Blues musicians from the '#03930s on up to the '#03980s and '#03990s, 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. nbsp 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 "quotI'#039m Tore Up"quot, a rollicking shuffle that lays its cards right on the table: nbsp "quotI'#039m tore up, people just as drunk as I can be"quot. nbsp Slim'#039s musical strengths similarly are on display from the word go. nbsp His time is really strong, his reach quite large, and he likes thick scrunchy chordal voicings. nbsp He particularly likes to employ tremolo with the sustain pedal depressed. nbsp That sound reminds me a bit of the great South African Jazz piani...
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