Friday, July 27, 2012

Jerry Ricks Traveled Many Miles of Blues

There is a picture of Jerry Ricks with Mississippi John Hurt taken from a mid-sixties Philadelphia Blues Festival that was recently published in Big City Blues. It’s a picture that would not be out of place in the booklet accompanying Ricks’ second Rooster Blues album, Many Miles of Blues.

The musical link to Hurt is most obvious on the nice rendition of Louis Collins Blues. The flowing guitar and vocal of the opening Missouri River Blues, a Ricks original, also captures some of the same feel found in the music of Hurt and Furry Lewis. It is Lewis to whom Ricks pays respect to on I Will Turn Your Money Green. In addition to his originals that sound like they were written decades ago such as his County Farm Blues, he transforms pianist Little Brother Montgomery’s Vicksburg Blues into a slowed down Beale Street guitar blues, while paying respects to Skip James on a deft treatment of Special Rider Blues.

A traditionalist perhaps in his approach, Ricks shows he absorbed the lessons he gotten first-hand, and has moulded his own distinctive approach, evoking his mentors but in his own style.

This review of Jerry Ricks appeared in the January-February 2001 Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 249) which I have made some minor editing errors. Jerry Ricks unfortunately passed away (it will be five years in December 2007). A marvelous interpreter of classic country blues and a superb exponent of this tradition he is missed for his warmth, humor and wisdom as well as his music. I likely received my review copy from a publicist.

This may be hard to find but well worth the effort.

No comments: