Dienstag, 26. April 2011

Junior Wells and Buddy Guy & Junior Wells Blues Band - Newport Folk Festival, Rhode Island 1968

"Born in 1936 in Lettsworth, Louisiana, George "Buddy" Guy remains one of the world's most vital blues musicians and certainly one of the genre's most influential guitarists. Guy grew up on a diet of uniquely expressive blues stylists like Lightnin' Hopkins and T-Bone Walker. Eventually relocating to Chicago, he would learn directly from the likes of Muddy Waters, Guitar Slim, and Otis Rush. Guy would develop his own distinctive high-energy style that was typified by extreme string bending and a tense, staccato attack. Guy himself would strongly influence an impressive list of next generation guitarists, with Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, and Stevie Ray Vaughan the most obvious examples.
Junior Wells family hailed from Memphis and he was raised in Arkansas. Born Amos Wells Blakemore Jr., two years earlier than Buddy Guy, Wells initially emulated Sonny Boy Williamson and Memphis-based Junior Parker. Wells too would be drawn to Chicago, where at age 19, he was recruited into Muddy Waters' band, replacing Little Walter. An exciting vocalist, Wells is more often revered for developing the modern amplified style of harmonica playing, where he soon became second to none.

Both Guy and Wells became recording artists on their own as the 1950s waned. At the dawn of the 1960s they collaborated for the first time on Guy's recording of "Ten Years Ago." The two would continue recording on their own, as well as collaborating, which provided them a wealth of material when they performed together. The dynamic stage presence of these two powerhouse musicians was something special indeed, and this performance, recorded at the 1968 Newport Folk Festival, is an extraordinary testament to Guy and Wells' onstage power.

The recording begins with Festival director George Wein's introduction. The band, which includes the exemplary rhythm section of bassist Jack Myers and jazz drummer-turned bluesman Fred Below, and A.C. Reed as a one-man horn section, kick things off with a hot warm-up instrumental before sinking their teeth into Guy's "One Room Country Shack." Possibly the quintessential track from Guy's classic 1968 A Man And The Blues LP, this sets the stage for the controlled fury yet to come.

With A.C. Reed's sax serving as additional rhythmic punctuation, Guy and Wells next tear into "Checkin' On My Baby," another essential song in their catalogue. Wells belts it out and blows a mean harp while Guy's stratocaster cuts like a knife between every line. Next they slow it down for a smoldering read of "Somebody Hoodooed The Hoodoo Man" followed by Junior Wells' signature song, "Messin' With The Kid." On the latter, Guy's biting tone is particularly raunchy and it's an outstanding performance all around.

To bring the set to a close, Guy and Wells pull out all the stops during a nearly nine-minute exploration of Sonny Boy Williamson's "Help Me." This is pure blues of the highest order, with Guy sounding like B.B. King on steroids and Wells and the band improvising up a storm. On this performance in particular, one can clearly hear how much this band influenced younger musicians, like Johnny Winter and the Butterfield Blues Band. This performance also sounds like a precursor to the incredible version on Van Morrison's "It's Too Late To Stop Now," recorded five years later but in remarkably similar form right down to the vocals. Wells' passionate vocals and the style of these musicians were obviously having a far-reaching impact. This number must certainly have been a highlight of the entire day and the Newport audience lets them know it. Despite George Wein desperately trying to keep the show moving, the audience is literally howling for more, causing Wein to finally relent and invite Guy, Wells & Co. back to the stage for a short (and Wein clarifies it has to be short!) encore.

Guy and Wells have other plans and treat the audience to a fantastic double encore beginning with "Stormy Monday," another tasty slow blues that starts off with a delicate touch but soon has Guy squeezing off a barrage of fiery riffs. He even manages to interject some spontaneous humor into one of his searing solos, by quoting the traditional folksong "Mary Had a Little Lamb" (it was a folk festival after all). Just when everyone was expecting the song to wind to a close, the band veers off into a funky take on James Brown's "I Got You," which must have had the already ecstatic audience up on their feet dancing.
Previously unheard and newly mixed direct off the 1/2" 4-track master reel, this sho
uld prove a rewarding listen for anyone even remotely interested in amplified blues. For those already well aware of the raw energy generated by Guy and Wells together in their prime, this recording is destined to become an important part of their legacy."

(from: http://www.wolfgangsvault.com/ - thanks a lot!)

Tracklist:
1. Intro
2. One Room Country Shack
3. Checkin' On My Baby
4. Somebody Hoodooed The Hoodoo Man Intro
5. Somebody Hoodooed The Hoodoo Man
6. Messin' With The Kid
7. You Gotta Help Me Intro
8. You Gotta Help Me
9. Crowd/Talk
10. Stormy Monday/I Feel Good

Buddy Guy - Guitar, Vocals
Junior Wells - Vocals, Harmonica
A.C. Reed - Sax
Jack Myers- Bass
Fred Below - Drums

(320 kbps, no cover art)

Sonntag, 17. April 2011

The Newport Folk Festival

The Newport Folk Festival is an American annual folk-oriented music festival in Newport, Rhode Island, which began in 1959 as a counterpart to the previously established Newport Jazz Festival. The festival features performances by folk, blues, country, bluegrass and folk rock musicians, and since the 1990's has featured performers from related contemporary genres, such as alternative country, indie folk and folk punk.

The Newport Folk Festival was founded in 1959 by George Wein, founder of the already-well-established Newport Jazz Festival, backed by its original board: Theodore Bikel, Oscar Brand, Pete Seeger and Albert Grossman.

The Festival is renowned for introducing a number of performers who went on to become major stars, most notably Joan Baez (who appeared as an unannounced guest of Bob Gibson in 1959), and Bob Dylan, whose first Newport appearance, as a guest of Joan Baez in 1963, is generally regarded as his premiere national performance. Dylan and Baez also played together in 1964. Dylan became the artist most notably associated with the festival.

The festival draws on folk music in a wide and loosened sense. For instance, in the 1960s there were famous performances by Johnny Cash and Howlin' Wolf, artists usually described as representing country music and blues respectively. The festival was associated with the 1960s Blues Revival, where artists "lost" since the 1940s (e.g. Delta blues singers) were "rediscovered".

Concerts have been a rich source of recordings. Murray Lerner directed the 1967 film "Festival" based on the 1963-1965 festivals, now available on DVD.

We´ll present some of the Newport Folk Festival recordings in the next days.

Freitag, 15. April 2011

VA - Prayers From Hell: White Gospel & Sinner's Blues, 1927-1940

This compilation of hillbilly gospel music and twisted Southern white blues could have been taken from one of the discs in Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music - there's even an essay included by Greil Marcus, a reprinted chapter from his Invisible Republic book.

Normally, this would reek of copycat-ism and a cheap way to make a buck. Given that this is the Trikont label from Germany, you can be assured this isn't the case. Their notes and packages are superb, they make their records primarily for a European audience, where the Smith Anthology may not be available, and there is a different focus, one that is perversely curious in its approach to this very foreign - to them - music. Besides, they put some gems on here Smith didn't include because his anthology was based on only six years of recorded material.

As for the music, it's stellar. This is solid, primitive, hillbilly gospel music and blues. The remastering is excellent and the material choice is wonderful. From the Carolina Ramblers Stringband's "That Lonesome Valley" to the Dixon Brothers' "Didn't Hear Nobody Pray" (covered recently by the Fairfield Four) and "When Gabriel Blows His Trumpet for Me" to Byron Parker and his mountaineer group, the Carter Family, and Bill Carlisle, we hear the sound of the hopeful pilgrims, assured of their place in the heavens with God. Some of these songs also plead for the one who is lost to turn from sin (the Carter Family's "Better Farther On"). The praise is definite but reserved, plaintively sung with the fear of God in their approach. There is a loneliness in these songs that speaks of everything from poverty to a sense of continual loss - it's whistling in the graveyard music.

However, the coin flips on this disc several time when we hear Frank Hutchison's "Hell Bound Train" and "Stackalee," or the mad-dog glass-chewing howl of Dock Boggs' wailing through "Country Blues," "New Prisoner's Song," "Sugar Baby," and "Pretty Polly." Boggs and Hutchison even the score - they show the dark as death side of culturally enforced Christianity and refuse to be tamed or comforted. Joining them are Ledford and Daniel Nicholson's fiddle and banjo blues ballad "Ninety Nine Years" from 1932. It's a tale of love, betrayal. Gambling, love, and murder.

All of these songs appear in the mirror of redemption, past it, out of its dimension and scope. But even here, rebellious as they are, Jesus wins. Just after Boggs' "Pretty Polly" sends chills down the spine for the coldness of its tale, its unrepentant bitterness and anger, we are led out of the entire compilation by Edith and Sherman Collins' "I Can't Feel at Home in This World Anymore." Something becomes obvious in the tune and both gospel and sinner's tunes turn back on themselves and meet the bridge where the title of this song is literally true in both cases, and the pitfalls of earthly existence is, too; it's just the attitude regarding departure from that place that's different.

 
Tracks:

That Lonesome Valley - Carolina Ramblers String Band
I Am Ready To Go - The Monroe Brothers
Church In The Wildwood - The Carter Family
New Prisoner's Song - Dock Boggs
Didn't Hear Nobody Pray - Dixon Brothers
The Heavenly Train - Bill Carlisle
Hell Bound Train - Frank Hutchison
We Shall Rise - Byron Parker & His Mountaineers
Down South Blues - Dock Boggs
What Will You Take In Exchange - Edith And Sherman Collins
Shining City Over The River - Dorsey & Beatrice Dixon
Worried Man Blues - Rodgers & Nicholson
It Is Better Farther On - The Carter Family
Country Blues - Dock Boggs
What Would The Profit Be - The Monroe Brothers
Unclouded Sky - Bill Carlisle's Kentucky Boys
Stackalee - Frank Hutchison
When Gabriel Blows His Trumpet For Me - Dixon Brothers
I Love My Savior - Byron Parker & His Mountaineers
Sugar Baby - Dock Boggs
He Will Be Your Savior Too - Bill Carlisle
Ninety Nine Years - Ledford & Daniel Nicholson
When Jesus Appears - Dorsey & Beatrice Dixon
Pretty Polly - Dock Boggs
I Can't Feel At Home In This World Any More - Edith & Sherman Collins

VA - Praxers From Hell: White Gospel & Sinner´s Blues 1927 - 1940

Freitag, 8. April 2011

Fulanito - Hombre Mas Famoso de la Tierra

You don´t know Fulanito? Doesn´t matter, just listen to the music: You will find yourself moving to the music and their hot beats. Even if you don't speak Spanish, you'll find their rhyming hot and catchy.

You don´t love merengue and dominican music? This is an even better combination. These guys combine rap, hip hop, merenge and house music to make a unique, danceable and high energy combination.

Fulanito's modern take on merengue's sound and style is original, catchy and naughty all at once. The lyrics are filled with innuendo and are delivered in catchy and sing-songy raps over the backbeat of a techno rhythm, mixed with Latin and Italian influences (the occasional accordeon riffs to remind us of the mafiaso image the band wants to maintain). They also integrate cumbia into their merengue sound on "Merencumbiaso" (Track 3). It is almost impossible to shake the highly catchy hooks that the tracks open with. It's like a team of Dominican guys decked out in mafia style suits with Panama Hats have spotted you on the dance floor, have grabbed your hands and summoned you to surrender to the beat of the merengue. Irresistable!

Fulanito - Hombre Mas Famoso de la Tierra (new link)
(mp3, 128 kbps, ca. 42 MB)

Donnerstag, 7. April 2011

Wade In The Water Vol. IV - African American Community Gospel

This is the fourth part of a four-disc set, drawn from the musical examples to Bernice Johnson Reagon's outstanding National Public Radio series on African-American gospel music, deals respectively with the concert tradition in spiritual singing, the 19th-century roots of African-American congregational singing, the pioneering composers, and community gospel.

"Wade in the Water, Vol. 4: African American Community Gospel" focuses on the sacred music of two vastly different areas of the U.S. - Washington D.C. and rural Alabama - to illustrate the differences brought about by local perspective. The eight Alabama tracks run the gamut from newly arranged renditions of traditional favorites to popular hits to original compositions; all are in the quartet style, which remains the primary gospel vehicle throughout the state - group anniversary celebrations are even regularly held, with other quartets traveling from miles around to perform in their peers' honor. In D.C., the trend is toward performances connected with the worship services of the urban church community; again, however, the scope is vast, including traditional styles, processional praise songs and a contemporary reading of "Peace in the Valley."

Wade In The Water Vol IV - African American Community Gospel
(192 kbps)