North Carolina bluesman, Richard ‘Big Boy’ Henry is among the blues artists that have been assisted with the Music Maker Relief Foundation. Music Maker Recordings has issued a delightful disc by this Patriarch of the Carolina Blues, Beaufoot Blues, that was produced by Lightnin’ Wells and Tim Duffy.
Henry’s contributions are limited mostly to vocals as Wells, Duffy and Michael Parrish provide backing for most of the tracks. Wells plays wonderful slide (suggesting Bukka White) on a rousing John Henry while the simple guitar of Parrish and Duffy enhance Henry’s vocal on Old Bill, a nice piece of storytelling about the killing of his rooster. Moan&Cry has some outstanding fingerstyle playing from Wells as Henry asks his woman to rock him. Duffy’s rolling guitar is wonderful behind Henry on Vellevina.
Big Boy’s son, Luther is accompanied by Wells on a warmly sung Tell Me What to Do followed by Big Boy’s a cappella vocal on Nina Mae. Pleading with his woman to tell him what’s on her mind, Henry accompanies himself on Turn the Key, telling his woman to turn the key and let Big Boy ride in her automobile and on Walking Day &Night, where, Parrish adds some low key piano in support of Henry’s enjoyable playing. Sandwiched between those tracks is Beautiful City, a gospel blues associated with Rev. Gary Davis.
One might wish Henry played a bit more, which is not to fault the wonderful accompaniments he receives through, but the strength of this release is the wonderful heartfelt singing of Big Boy Henry who is a wonderful storyteller and who invests all these performances with heart and honesty.This may be hard to find but you can obtain from some mail-order outlets as well as from the Music Maker Relief Foundation at its website, www. musicmaker.org, see http://www.musicmaker.org/artists_profile/Big-Boy-Henry
This review appeared in the April 2003 DC Blues Calendar, then the DC Blues Society’s newsletter. I may have purchased this CD.