Avalon Blues: A Tribute to the Music of Mississippi John Hurt

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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble
For two months in 1928, self-taught bluesman Mississippi John Hurt ventured to Memphis and New York City to record; he then disappeared into the hills of the Mississippi Delta for 35 years of anonymity in his hometown, Avalon, where the new sharecropper jammed with local guitarists and fiddlers at Saturday-night socials and church suppers. Tracked down in 1963 by two scout musicians, Hurt recorded three albums for Vanguard and performed throughout the Northeast at clubs, colleges, and festivals (including the Newport Folk Festival) for the three years preceding his death in 1966. Yet the swinging ragtime finger-picking and sweetly simple homespun songs of this blues icon’s brief career have influenced countless ...
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble
For two months in 1928, self-taught bluesman Mississippi John Hurt ventured to Memphis and New York City to record; he then disappeared into the hills of the Mississippi Delta for 35 years of anonymity in his hometown, Avalon, where the new sharecropper jammed with local guitarists and fiddlers at Saturday-night socials and church suppers. Tracked down in 1963 by two scout musicians, Hurt recorded three albums for Vanguard and performed throughout the Northeast at clubs, colleges, and festivals (including the Newport Folk Festival) for the three years preceding his death in 1966. Yet the swinging ragtime finger-picking and sweetly simple homespun songs of this blues icon’s brief career have influenced countless listeners, including the 15 musicians featured on this excellent Vanguard tribute CD, which should quickly “open the door to a new generation [of fans],” as producer Peter Case hopes. Right from the outstanding opening tracks -- the jaunty woman-done-wrong revenge tale of “Frankie & Albert” (where Chris Smither plays the one-man-band as he fingerpicks harmony over a rollin’, foot-stompin’ rhythm), the wistful siren song of “Avalon, My Home Town” (where Bruce Cockburn lays his lone, throaty voice over a spare 12-string wilderness), and especially the breathy Appalachian whisper-wail of “Angels Laid Him Away” (where Lucinda Williams weep-moans her way through heart-wrenching plainsong)-- these contemporary artists breath new life into Hurt’s old classics and make them their own. Other standouts are Beck’s bittersweet slow-boil take on he’s-a-loser-baby “Stagolee” and Victoria Williams’s crazed church-lady screech, backed by wah-wah banjo and percolating bass, on “Since I’ve Laid My Burden Down.” There’s something for everyone here: humor, both sly (the sleepy sexual leer of Steve and Justin Earle’s “Candy Man”) and corny (Geoff Muldaur’s old-timey, spell-out “Chicken”); gospel, both R&B-style (Alvin Youngblood Hart’s tambourine-revivalist boogie “Here Am I, Oh Lord, Send Me”) and hymnal (Gillian Welch’s lyrical two-step “Beulah Land”), and, of course, the blues, whether ramblin’ (Peter Case and Dave Alvin’s quick-shuffle “Monday Morning Blues”), down-home (Bill Morrissey’s gravelly “Pay Day,” Mark Selby’s oom-pah “Make Me a Pallet on Your Floor”), spicy (Taj Mahal’s jambayala “My Creole Belle”), or simply straight (Ben Harper’s Jack Daniels-smooth “Sliding Delta”). No matter what your taste, in the end you’re sure to say, just as John Hiatt does, “I’m Satisfied.”--Janie Matthews
All Music Guide - Richie Unterberger
If you assemble a bunch of above-average artists to pay tribute to a major artist, is the result an above-average tribute record? Not always, but in this case it is. Organized and executive-produced by Peter Case, this contains covers of the Mississippi bluesman's songs by more than a dozen medium-big and very-big names from the folk and rock worlds, including Beck, Taj Mahal, Bruce Cockburn, Lucinda Williams, Steve Earle dueting with Justin Earle, Ben Harper, Peter Case & Dave Alvin performing together, Geoff Muldaur, Gillian Welch, and John Hiatt. It's more a folk-rock-blues crossover album than a Delta blues one, which is fine: tribute albums shouldn't be re-creations of the originals, and whether or not it was the intention, it will expose some of John Hurt's songs to fans who identify themselves primarily as folk or rock listeners. And not many of these songs are very well-known, with the exception of "Candy Man" done by Steve & Justin Earle and "Stagolee" sung by Beck. The arrangements are low-key and respectful, the best ones being Ben Harper's "Sliding Delta" which is one of the bluesiest performances and Victoria Williams' "Since I've Laid My Burden Down," which has very eccentric banjo sounds.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 6/12/2001
  • Label: Vanguard Records
  • UPC: 015707958226
  • Catalog Number: 79582
  • Sales rank: 109,066

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1 Frankie & Albert - Chris Smither (3:02)
  2. 2 Avalon, My Home Town - Bruce Cockburn (4:19)
  3. 3 Angels Laid Him Away - Lucinda Williams (4:24)
  4. 4 Here Am I, Oh Lord, Send Me - Alvin Youngblood Hart (2:57)
  5. 5 Candyman - Justin Townes Earle (2:20)
  6. 6 Monday Morning Blues - Peter Case (4:16)
  7. 7 Sliding Delta - Ben Harper (3:08)
  8. 8 Chicken - Clare Muldaur (2:20)
  9. 9 Make Me a Pallet on Your Floor - Mark Selby (4:12)
  10. 10 Stagolee (2:46)
  11. 11 Since I've Laid My Burden Down - Victoria Williams (3:59)
  12. 12 Pay Day - Bill Morrissey (2:49)
  13. 13 My Creole Belle - Taj Mahal (2:57)
  14. 14 Beulah Land - Gillian Welch (4:34)
  15. 15 I'm Satisfied - John Hiatt (3:19)
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
Chris Smither Acoustic Guitar, Vocals
Taj Mahal Track Performer
Cormac McCarthy Harmonica
Bill Morrissey Guitar, Vocals, Bottleneck Guitar
Geoff Muldaur Banjo, Guitar, Kazoo, Vocals
Peter Case Guitar, Harmonica, Vocals
Bruce Cockburn Harmonica, Vocals, 12-string Guitar
John Hiatt Track Performer
Lucinda Williams Acoustic Guitar, Vocals
Victoria Williams Acoustic Guitar, Background Vocals, Rainstick
Richard Greene Fiddle
James Cruce Percussion, Washboard
Ben Harper Guitar, Vocals
Colin Linden Electric Dobro
Jenni Muldaur Vocals
Will Rigby Drums
Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen Background Vocals
Gillian Welch Acoustic Guitar, Vocals
Peter Mulvey Acoustic Guitar
David "Goody" Goodrich Mandolin
David Rawlings Electric Guitar, Vocals
Janice Powers Keyboards
Mark Selby Guitar, Vocals
Chuck Fields Drums
Sandy Chila Percussion, Background Vocals
Dawn Hopkins Bass, Harmonica, Electric Guitar, Lap Steel Guitar, Foot Tambourine
David P. Jackson Bass, Hammond Organ
Dave Alvin & the Guilty Men Vocals
Clare Muldaur Track Performer
Technical Credits
Chris Smither Producer, Engineer
Bruce Cockburn Producer
Jeff Landrock Engineer
Colin Linden Producer, Engineer
Mills Logan Engineer
Mike Poole Engineer
Alvin Youngblood Hart Producer
David Rawlings Engineer
Matt Andrews Engineer
Mark Selby Arranger, Producer
Twangtrust Producer
Dawn Hopkins Engineer
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Just as good today as 75 years ago!

    These performers really "nailed it", interpreting John Hurt's songs and style as if they had heard them live, which cannot be the case for most of them. They obviously love the man AND his music.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    I've played this CD so much it should be worn out

    Wonderful rythmic patterns, interesting tunes, great music. I had never heard of Mississippi John Hurt prior to the gift of this CD from a friend.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews