Classic Blues from Smithsonian Folkways

Classic Blues from Smithsonian Folkways


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Starting in the 1940s, Folkways made significant blues recordings, particularly of important artists who might not have had the easiest time getting or keeping contracts with more commercial labels, but still had something to say artistically. This 26-track compilation assembles material recorded between the 1940s and 1990s that showed up on various Folkways releases. Unfortunately, the liner notes don't name the exact dates of all the recordings, but certainly the substantial majority of them predate 1970. These recordings were targeted toward a somewhat scholarly folk revival audience, and some might find them a little folky and gentle. Electric instruments barely appear at all (with the notable exception of the early Chambers Brothers cut "Oh Baby, You Don't Have to Go"), and there's little that's as rough as the average prewar Delta blues track. Yet overall, it's a good compilation of many major and minor mid-20th century blues performers and styles. The bigger names include Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee (whose "Old Jabo," with drums, almost verges on Bo Diddley-styled rock & roll), Reverend Gary Davis (represented by a 1957 version of his famous "Candy Man"), Big Bill Broonzy, Memphis Slim and Willie Dixon (performing together), Lightnin' Hopkins, Leadbelly, Roosevelt Sykes, Son House, Champion Jack Dupree, Elizabeth Cotten, Lonnie Johnson, and Josh White. While acoustic guitar blues (including a field recording of K.C. Douglas' "Mercury Blues," later covered by Steve Miller) gets a fair amount of airtime, so do boogie piano, a cappella singing (Vera Hall), and some actual Delta blues (Son House, from a 1942 field recording).

Product Details

Release Date: 02/25/2003
Label: Smithsonian Folkways
UPC: 0093074013427
catalogNumber: 40134
Rank: 41062

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Blind John Davis   Piano
Champion Jack Dupree   Piano
Lonnie Johnson   Guitar,Vocals
Lead Belly   Choir, Chorus,12-string Guitar
Memphis Slim   Piano,Vocals
Henry Townsend   Guitar,Vocals
Brownie McGhee   Guitar,Vocals
George Chambers   Bass
Lester Chambers   Vocals
Willie Chambers   Guitar
Brian Keenan   Drums
Coyall McMahan   Maracas
Gene Moore   Drums
Sonny Terry   Harmonica,Vocals
Edith North Johnson   Vocals
Willie Dixon Band   Bass
Nora Lee King   Shouts
Tommy Bankhead   Guitar

Technical Credits

Blind Lemon Jefferson   Composer
Rev. Gary Davis   Arranger,Composer
Jeff Place   Archival Assistant
Robert Geddins   Composer
Barry Lee Pearson   Annotation
Traditional   Composer

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