Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Honeyboy Edwards- A Favorite Album By Him

While I have enjoyed the music of David 'Honeyboy' Edwards over the years, I have regarded him not quite of the level of his contemporaries from the Delta such as Big Joe Williams, who was his early mentor. Still he has one CD that stands out among his various ones, Earwig's Delta Bluesman which still stands out today. His is a 1992 review from Jazz & Blues Report.

Earwig Records (along with British Indigo Records) has just issued Delta Bluesman, a retrospective of Honeyboy Edwards' career which includes his Library of Congress recordings, one recording with Floyd Jones and Kansas City Red from the Old Friends session, and several recent recordings, some solo and some with band including Carey Bell, and Sunnyland Slim and others, where he recreates his 1951 Who May Your Regular Be, performs the previously unrecorded riverboat blues Katie Allen, and John Lee Williamson’s Eyes Full of Tears. Also interspersed are excepts from recent interviews of Honeyboy including his recollection of Alan Lomax coming to record him for the Library of Congress, as well as recollections of such seminal blues performers as Peetie Wheatsraw and Tommy McClennan. One can hear echoes of Robert Johnson in Water Coast Blues and Charlie Patton in a Just a Spoonful, and the short version of Stagolee isn’t far removed from John Hurt except Honeyboy’s attack is far more percussive. But the dominant influence on Honeyboy’s music is Big Joe Williams whose approach is echoed in Honeyboy’s personal blues interpretations. Wind Howlin’ Blues is a nice song on which Honeyboy adds some simple rack harmonica. If Honeyboy had never recorded or been located, the Library of Congress recordings would have been recognized as the work of a significant purveyor of the Delta blues. Honeyboy did make several recordings for small commercial labels, and after being found in Chicago by Pete Welding has recorded several times that certainly have been enjoyable, although generally not of the level of his Library of Congress recordings. Of the more recent recordings, two band cuts stand out, Kate Allen and Decoration Day, as Honeyboy forcefully sings with Carey Bell adding some strong harp fills and Sunnyland Slim contributing a rocking underpinning. Solo blues like Black Cat and Rocks in My Pillow are nicely rendered. This release succeeds in its intentions, and is a highly recommended collection for fans of down home blues.

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