Saturday, February 16, 2008

Archie Edwards Piedmont Blues Masterpiece

This is another review from late 2001 with minor editing of original to correct it. This CD is also available and as stated in the review, it was done from an advance cassette.

Its been several years since Archie Edwards, one of founders of the D.C. Blues Society and among D.C.’s most beloved blues performers, passed away. During his life there were two albums released under Edwards name. The two are joined by a compact disc of previously unissued recordings by Edwards, The Toronto Sessions on the Canadian NorthernBlues Music label. As indicated elsewhere in this issue Archie Edwards Blues Heritage Foundation will be celebrating its release Friday, November 2. I want to thank Miles Spicer of the Foundation with providing me a tape of the new disc. I am handicapped by lacking a listing of the song titles or the absence of the liner notes. From one of the songs, Poor Me, I would guess this album was recorded during the Reagan Presidency as Archie sings about the hard times of those who voted for Reagan. One thing that is evident is that Archie was in good spirits and voice, and played quite vigorously. He turns in some very spirited renditions of classic blues themes like Sittin’ on Top of The World, and How Long Blues. On this latter number and a couple other selections, one might suggest that the influence of Lightnin’ Hopkins can be detected in some of phrasing Archie employs in his accompaniment. The influence of Mississippi John Hurt can be heard on a couple other selections, and on one number he even plays some slide guitar and employs the Dust My Broom riff. Of Archie’s own songs, there is a new version of Pittsburgh Blues that was first recorded on the album he made for the Living Country Blues USA series in the 1970s. Even when performing a well know number like How Long Blues or Easy Rider Blues, Archie adds his own lyrical take, and several numbers build on traditional blues themes. This is an exceptional album of traditional blues that reminds us just how good Archie and his music made us feel. It is notonly something that will have us remember this local legend, but is possibly the finest of his recordings.

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