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Wednesday, September 8, 1999

True Blue

Posted By on Wed, Sep 8, 1999 at 12:00 AM

Take a look at the institution responsible for putting this recording together. That should tell you most of what you need to know about where this work fits in with other blues recordings. Blues Routes is both educational and a great collection of various blues stylings.

The performances, all of which were recorded live at Wolftrap or Carnegie Hall, reach all the way back to the preblues musical form known as worksongs, then move forward chronologically from there. The opening number, "Rooster Call," performed by the Gandy Dancers, is a worksong with some humor thrown in about a wayward man who fools his hardworking wife into thinking he is where he is not – while he is having a hell of a good time not being where his poor wife thinks he was. True to the form, the only real instrument to be found is the rough-edged voice of the lead vocalist, who is actually more of a shouter than a singer. His comical tale is accompanied, as far as I can tell, only by several stomping feet keeping the beat and something that sounds like an iron bar.

Two songs later you’ve got Warner Williams singing "Step It Up and Go," a boogie-woogie number with acoustic guitar and harmonica accompanying Warner’s vocals. Seven songs after that you’ve got Claude Williams playing a jazz-blues rendition of "That Certain Someone" on his violin. The final number features Joe Louis Walker playing some phenomenal electric slide guitar that is so fat and heavy it’ll break your back if you try to carry it around.

Damn, this is good.

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