Saturday, February 16, 2008

Cephas & Wiggins Tell the Truth

This is a slightly updated review that origianlly appeared in 2002 in the DC Blues Calendar. Like Cephas & Wiggins other Alligator CDs it should be relatively easy to buy.

Back in 2002, Alligator issued a new CD, Somebody Told the Truth, by the accomplished duo of John Cephas & Phil Wiggins. Cephas, in the past three decades emerged as one of the finest singer-guitarists out of the Piedmont blues tradition while Phil Wiggins' virtousic harmonica complements his partners' warm vocals. With the exception of Cephas’ vocal on Darkness on the Delta where he is accompanied by Tal Farlow’s quintet, the disc has the Piedmont blues duo performing a variety of material including an original lyrical take on the classic Stagolee theme, Stack and the Devil, personal interpretations of classic blues from Robert Johnson (Last Fair Deal Gone Down) and Skip James (Sick Bed Blues), and some perceptive observations on life and personalities (The Pimp in the Pink Suit). Burn Your Bridges is a rollicking feature for Phil’s wonderful harp that will be familiar with the pair’s longtime fans. Also revived is the wonderful ballad, Reno Factory, that they first cut as part of some of their earliest recordings that appeared on L&R. John Cephas, in the booklet accompanying this disc, attributes the song to the late Foddrell Brothers. This has long been among my favorite songs by the duo and others will also welcome it being readily available again. This is a terrific recording, that stands up five years later and will be enjoyed by their longtime fans and others who love acoustic blues.

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