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Preserving Country Blues through Education, Performance and Technology
uncle bud
January 24, 2012, 09:02:47 AM by uncle bud
Views: 6062 | Comments: 15

Gone to the Country
The New Lost City Ramblers and the Folk Music Revival

I just finished reading Gone to the Country: The New Lost City Ramblers &amp the Folk Music Revival by Ray Allen (University of Illinois Press). A thoroughly enjoyable read that for me was a fascinating look at the Ramblers and their music from the late '#03950s through to the 1970s and a little beyond. Since I was not following their musical careers at the time, much of the information in the book was new to me, and the coverage of the growth of the traditional and old-time music scene covered in the book, from the early New York days to the later West Coast scene, filled in a lot of historical background that I was only vaguely aware of. Along the way the book also covers the growth of the Newport Folk Festival as well as the Friends of Old-Time Music concerts, TV shows like Rainbow Quest and Hootenanny, and the pop side of the folk revival in the music of the Kingston Trio and the like - the enemy as far as NLCR were concerned.

The book includes quite a bit of discussion not only of the history but the Ramblers'#039 particular approach to traditional and old-time music, as well as the question of whether they should even be playing it, despite the fact that they were at the centre of rebuilding its popularity during this period. Not just a philosophical question either, for it meant...
November 17, 2011, 06:41:46 PM by Slack
Views: 3913 | Comments: 4

Mama'#039s Angel Child - The Little Brothers       
Written by Bruce Nemerov    nbsp  

Mama'#039s Angel Child - The Little Brothers
Penny Records

I'#039ve been listening, off and on, to Mama'#039s Angel Child by the Little Brothers for two or three weeks now and each time I find something new ? something I hadn'#039t heard before ? in the music. This is a very good thing. Depth and subtlety are qualities all too uncommon today when so many "quotacoustic"quot bands hit you over the head with wild-eyed energy but little else. I'#039ll resist naming names, but you know who they are.

But back to Frankie and Kim Basile and the 3rd Brother, mandolinist Mike Hoffmann ? or is he the second brother, Kim being of the female persuasion? (They really need to straighten this out for the perplexed among us.) Anyway, the three have done a very difficult and pleasing thing with this CD: Using voices (Frankie and Kim) and string instruments (all three), the LBs have recorded a variety of American foundational (I hate the term "quotroots,"quot don'#039t you?) music in a surprisingly creative manner.

Let me give an example. The first track, "quotLoose Like That"quot (one of the numerous offspring of Tampa Red and Georgia Tom'#039s single-entendre hit of a similar name) sounds here like the Skillet-Lickers-play-Dixieland. The mandolin plays the melodic cornet part while Kim'#039s fiddle is the New Orleans clari...
November 17, 2011, 06:40:52 PM by Slack
Views: 2449 | Comments: 0

Lay Down My Burden - Grant Dermody
Written by Simon Field
Lay Down My Burden - Grant Dermody

Cards on the table. This is only the second harmonica album I have ever bought. That said, calling it a Harmonica album doesn'#039t do it justice or properly describe it. This is a country blues album, with a huge cast of fantastic musicians, in which the focal point happens to be a fine harp player and singer. There'#039s barely a shuffle in sight, and you certainly won'#039t find any 72 bar harp solos.

Crucially (and perhaps unusually) Grant Dermody'#039s harp never dominates the songs here; it serves them tastefully. Perfectly even. Its all about the songs.

Back to the huge cast- the CD kicks off with Eric Bibb on guitar, delivering a subtle finger picked rendition of Gary Davis'#039 I'#039ll Be Alright to accompany Grant'#039s gentle vocal and laid back harp.

Amazing Grace is a standard (and perhaps a clich?) but hits the right spot. Full of atmosphere but somehow unsentimental, the track features Orville Johnson'#039s unique dobro sound, partnered with lap steel and held together by John Miller'#039s acoustic guitar. The smooth beginnings grow into an unexpected crescendo and a good deal of life is breathed into what is a very familiar old hymn.

John Cephas'#039 last recording, a rendition of Hard Time Killing Floor, sees Grant take a bac...
November 17, 2011, 06:36:10 PM by Slack
Views: 2525 | Comments: 0

Shake Your Wicked Knees - Rent Parties And Good Times
Written by John Miller
Shake Your Wicked Knees - Rent Parties And Good Times, Yazoo 2035

I recently found this CD, which is sub-headed "quotClassic Piano Rags, Blues &amp Stomps 1928-43"quot, on sale, and I'#039m so glad I picked it up, for it is superlatively good. nbsp It is one of the series of CDs of Blues piano music that Yazoo has released that were produced (which in this instance, I assume, means the cuts were selected and sequenced) by the English record collector Francis Wilford-Smith. nbsp Other CDs in this series include one devoted to Roosevelt Sykes and Lee Green (reviewed elsewhere in this section), one focusing on Charlie Spand, and two devoted to the Blues piano stylists of St. Louis in the pre-War era. nbsp Francis Smith'#039s knowledge of this material must be encyclopedic, for I had the feeling as I listened to the program that I was hearing the very best that the various artists had to offer.

A couple of extra-musical impressions began to develop as I listened repeatedly to this CD. nbsp One is that in the context of a rent party, a pianist'#039s musical skills must have been taken as a given; just as important, though, must have been the ability to entertain, to act that host, engage in banter with the guests and maintain a stream of humorous woofing going along with the music. nbsp Not an easy job description! nbsp A...
November 17, 2011, 06:35:25 PM by Slack
Views: 3294 | Comments: 2

Robert Nighthawk - Prowling with the Nighthawk
Written by John Miller

Robert Nighthawk - Prowling with the Nighthawk, Document DOCD-32-20-6       

I recently picked up this re-release of an earlier Document CD, and have been pleased with what an excellent job Document has done with the re-issue. nbsp The program is generous, with 26 performances by Robert Nighthawk, recorded in the years 1937--1952 for six different record labels, and in a variety of ensemble settings. nbsp The notes accompanying the CD share a wealth of biographical and discographical information on Robert Nighthawk, and I refer interested parties to them for that kind of information. nbsp I will confine the discussion here to his music.

The earliest recordings presented here feature Robert Nighthawk working with Big Joe Williams seconding him on guitar and on several tracks, Sonny Boy Williamson 1 (John Lee Williamson) on harmonica. nbsp With two exceptions, "quotDon'#039t Mistreat Your Woman"quot and "quotG-Man"quot, for which Nighthawk played slide in Vastapol, these cuts find Nighthawk flat-picking out of G position in standard tuning, while Big Joe and Sonny Boy riff more or less non-stop. nbsp It is not what you would call a nifty sound, and there doesn'#039t appear to have been a notable amount of listening going on between the players but it is strongly played and forcefully expressed. nbsp Apropos of this, I cong...
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