Monday, September 14, 2015

Music Maker's John Henry anthology

A neat idea was collecting ten renditions of the ballad John Henry (Music Heritage Relief Foundation) with the renditions representing different genre and stylistic approaches from Delta blues, to Piedmont blues to old-time string band making for fascinating listening.

Big Boy Henry, with Lightnin' Wells on guitar, opens this CD with a rendition that comes off like a Bukka White recording. Cootie Stark and Neal Pattman lend a more East Coast style rendition, slide guitar and all. Is Dom Flemons playing quills on a rendition that musically evokes Henry 'Ragtime Texas" Thomas while Carl Rutherford's finger-style guitar instrumental rendition is akin to the legendary Doc Watson while Benton Flippen leads an old time string band rendition.

Guitar Gabriel (aka Nyles Jones) rendition is more in a Piedmont vein with Tim Duffy adding guitar and Michael Parrish piano to support Gabriel's marvelous Blind Boy Fuller influenced picking, while John Lee Ziegler high pitched singing and spare slide guitar (is he using a knife) is an affecting performance, the longest one here. With Tim Duffy on rhythm guitar, the legendary Etta Baker does a marvelous instrumental version with he finger-picked slide playing while a small group backs John Dee Holeman's juke joint and drink house rendition.

Samuel Turner Stevens closes this CD with a rendition performed on a banjo with slide. It concludes a very interesting and captivating compilation that can be obtained from Music Maker Relief Foundation on their website,

I received this for donations to the Music Maker Foundation. Here John Dee Holeman performs John Henry.

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