Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Classic Piedmont Blues From Smithsonian Folkways

Classic Piedmont Blues From Smithsonian Folkways
Smithsonian Folkways

A new acoustic blues compilation from Smithsonian Folkways delves in the archives for the selections on this. Piedmont blues has an easy flow played in a finger-picking style where the guitarist, according to the late John Cephas, uses "thumb and fingers with an alternating thumb and finger style. I keep a constant bass line going with my thumb, and on the treble strings I pick out the melody or the words of the song I'm singing." Cephas is quoted in the cogent booklet with liner notes on the Piedmont blues, and the specific songs included (along with artist biographies), by Barry Lee Pearson.

From the opening John Jackson performance of "Truckin' Little Woman," the delightful Warner Williams performance, "Hey Bartender There's a Big Bug in My Beer" with Kentucky flatpicker Eddie Pennington, several performances of Brownie McGhee and Sonny Terry, Baby Tate's wonderful "If I Could Holler Like a Mountain Jack," along with the incomparable Rev. Gary Davis' instrumental "Mountain Jack," John Cephas and Phil Wiggins' rendition of Blind Boy Fuller's "Mamie," Elizabeth Cotton's "Going Down The Road Feeling Bad," Pink Anderson's "Meet Me in the Bottom," to the closing tribute by Archie Edwards to his friend  Mississippi John Hurt, "The Road Is Rough and Rocky," this is marvelously played music by some of the style's  finest artists.

There are also included a few performances by old-time music artists such as Hobart Smith, Doc Watson and Roscoe Holcomb, and as Pearson notes there was plenty of musical interaction between such a artists with Black artists. One of my finest memories of John Jackson was him playing old-time string band music with former musical students of him and it is unfortunate that none of the performances he and Doc Watson performed together at The Smithsonian Folklife Festival have been issued as they would have made this wonderful collection even better.

I do note that the Archie Edwards performance had been previously issued on the similarly theme Smithsonian-Folkways collection "Classic Appalachian Blues" and it is unfortunate another performance by him was not chosen. Still this is a first-rate collection of this blues style.

I purchased this recording. Here is the late John Jackson performing.

1 comment:

Andy said...

Whatever its failings, I say give it a big thumbs up!

Andy Cohen