Friday, February 21, 2014

Franklin and Mindte Go Dancing With Their Babies

Piedmont blues guitarist Rick Franklin and bluegrass mandolinist Tom Mindte have collaborated on a new Patuxent Music release Dancing With My Baby. This writer has known Franklin for close to three decades (including when we both were on the board of the D.C. Blues Society) and enjoyed his live performances with Neil Harpe and Rick Usilton and more recently with his Delta Blues Boys. His previous recordings included some with Harpe, a self-produced CD of Hokum Blues and the excellent Searching For Frank (on Patuxent) with Mike Baytop that was issued on Patuxent several years ago. Mindte, in addition to playing mandolin, is the chief force behind Patuxent Music. 

This is an affable recording from the opening reworking of Cecil Gant’s I’m a Good Man But a Poor Man, to the closing gospel number The River of Jordan. If Franklin takes most of the vocals, Mindte’s own high tenor harmony and also his leads have definite natural appeal. Mindte’s mandolin bridges his bluegrass background with the mandolin of such blues masters as Charlie McCoy and Yank Rachell. It lends a nice flavor to the performances. 

On nice relaxed rendition of Hank Williams Half As Much, Mindte’s supporting vocal lends a bluegrass flavor to it. An instrumental original Guitar & Mandolin Rag, is delightful while Crazy About Nancy Jane is a lively rendition of a song associated with Washboard Sam and a favorite of Western Swing bands. Two White Horses In a Line is a spirited rendition of an older spiritual number based on the recording by Joe Evans and Arthur McClain. while the interchange between black blues and early country music is displayed in He’s in the Jailhouse Now, first recorded by Blind Blake and later by Jimmie Rodgers.

The popular hymn “I’ll Fly Away” is heard along with Mississippi John Hurt’s Let the Mermaids Flirt With Me, with a backing that suggests some of Jimmie Rodgers blue yodels (without the yodels). This latter tune is followed by a rendition of Rodgers No Hard Times with Mindte taking the strutting vocal suggestive of the late Piedmont blues master John Jackson. Rocks in My Pillow, while credited to Son Tillis goes back at least to Roy Brown’s Hard Luck Blues with Mindte contributing another heartfelt vocal. It is a number associated with Washington DC area blues legend Warner Williams who has recorded it for Patuxent.

Engaging renditions of such folk and blues staples You Are My Sunshine and “Goodnight Irene, along with the hokum of You Can’t That Stuff Anymore round out this attractive and varied recording that will appeal to a wide range of acoustic roots listeners. For more information of this recording check out

Rick Franklin gave me a copy of this release. Rick and his Delta Blues Boys are playing Saturday February 22 at Cassatt's ( in Arlington, Virginia starting at 7:00 PM. You can enjoy some kiwi tweets along with some wonderful acoustic blues. Here is Rick in performance.

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