Down the Dirt Road: The Songs of Charley Patton

Down the Dirt Road: The Songs of Charley Patton


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Down the Dirt Road: The Songs of Charley Patton

Coordinated by acoustic Delta guitarist Steve James (who also penned the liner notes and appears on two tracks), this is a respectful but refreshingly not-always-reverent tribute to the undisputed king of the Delta blues. Although there are only 12 tracks and some of Patton's defining tunes -- like "Screamin' and Hollerin' the Blues" and "A Spoonful Blues" -- are MIA, these performances capture the spirit of Patton and show how his legacy extends to contemporary blues musicians. There really isn't a bad or misguided track here (unusual for tribute discs), a situation helped by the quality and pedigree of the musicians involved, who seek to maintain the rawness of Patton's blues. Certainly keeping the predominantly unplugged music stripped to just guitar or harmonica (in the case of Snooky Pryor's amazing "Pony Blues," which finds the classic bluesman sounding as inspired as ever), or both (as Annie Raines and Paul Rishell's take on Patton's spiritual "I Shall Not Be Moved"), maintains the focus. Delta-based artists such as Corey Harris and Dave Van Ronk turn in fine if unsurprising performances. But the unexpected addition of Brit pub rocker Graham Parker works surprisingly well, as his gritty voice (although not necessarily rudimentary guitar) does justice to "Poor Me." Harpist Charlie Musselwhite sticks to guitar for an ominous yet sweet "Pea Vine Blues," but it's Joe Louis Walker's incendiary seven-and-a-half-minute version of "Sugar Mama" and the closing medley of "Down the Dirt Road Blues"/"When Your Way Gets Dark," sung with a sexy, knockout approach by the album's only female vocalist, Colleen Sexton, clocking in at nearly ten minutes, that are the album's highlights. They open up these songs, leaving room for improvisation that expands the concepts but stays true to Patton's originals. One of the most successful albums of this type, this is an excellent (and well-recorded) introduction to the music of one of the touchstones of the blues.

Product Details

Release Date: 08/28/2001
Label: Telarc
UPC: 0089408353529
catalogNumber: 83535
Rank: 192231

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Charlie Musselwhite   Guitar,Vocals
Joe Louis Walker   Guitar,Vocals
Graham Parker   Guitar,Vocals
Paul Rishell   Guitar,Vocals
Dave Van Ronk   Guitar,Vocals
Snooky Pryor   Harmonica,Vocals
Steve James   Banjo,Guitar,Mandolin,Vocals
Kid Bangham   Guitar
Per Hanson   Percussion
Levon Helm   Drums
Mark Rubin   Tuba,Upright Bass
Corey Harris   Guitar,Vocals
Guy Davis   Guitar,Harmonica,Vocals
Annie Raines   Harmonica,Vocals
Dan McKinney   Organ,Piano
Dave Ferrara   Track Performer
Gregg Hoover   Guitar
T-Bone Wolk   Banjo,Mandolin
Colleen Sexton   Vocals
Mark Murphy   Upright Bass

Technical Credits

Pete Carlson   Engineer
Steve James   Liner Notes
Chris Andersen   Engineer
John Platania   Engineer
Robert Woods   Executive Producer
Steve Drown   Engineer
Chris Rival   Engineer
Anilda Carrasquillo   Art Direction
Dan McKinney   Engineer
Michael Bitterman   Engineer
Grace Falconer   Engineer
Randy Labbe   Producer
Harry Gale   Engineer

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