Lightnin' Hopkins is the star of this live recording, made at an August 1961 concert at the Ash Grove in Hollywood featuring Hopkins, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee (with Big Joe Williams sitting in on three numbers…
In a way, this is the veteran duo's version of Fathers and Sons, a meeting of old black bluesmen with young white admirers that Muddy Waters and Otis Spann cut with Mike Bloomfield and Paul Butterfield…
Singer/Guitarist Brownie McGhee and his life-long musical partner, blind harp-man, Sonny Terry are best known as champions of the "Piedmont"-style blues pioneered by artists such as Blind Blake, Blind Willie McTell and Blind Boy Fuller. In the 1960s, they became icons of the folk-blues revival. The recording presented here however showcase a different chapter of the story. This is a collection of raw and rocking jump blues cut between 1947 and 1955 for juke boxes in black beer joints and dancehalls by the New Jersey-based Savoy Record company. Essential blues recordings from two of the genres' most revered artists.
Brownie's brother Stick McGhee had a hit or two to his name, and the two brothers split the 105 tracks on this boxed set between them (with some tracks from Brownie's longtime partner Sonny Terry)! Includes Drinkin' Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee; Tennessee Waltz Blues; Wee Wee Hours Pts. 1 & 2; Little Things We Used to Do Stick McGhee; Mean Ole Frisco; Key to the Highway; C.C. Rider, Where Did She Go Brownie McGhee; Mad Man Blues; Harmonica Train Sonny Terry, and more.
Walter Brown McGhee (1915-1996) was an articulate spokesman for the blues who, in partnership with Sonny Terry, proselytized the buoyant Piedmont-blues-style to folk audiences a decade before most ever heard of the Mississippi Delta. Tennessee born, Carolina-influenced, New York based in his 'folk boom' glory and a Californian at the time of his death, Brownie showed a wide stylistic range from turn-of-the-century ragtime ('Come On Keep It Coming') to the lyrical sophistication of such original songs as 'Conversation With A River'.
Sonny Terry started playing harp in his teens, as a blind street musician in North Carolina. After a stint with a medicine show, he hooked p with the popular ragtime singer/guitarist, Blind Boy Fuller. When he was 23 he made his recording debut, backing up Fuller. Barely a year later in 1938, he was wowing New York audiences at Carnegie Hall, appearing solo as part of John Hammond's Spirituals to Swing concert. After Fuller's death in 1940, Terry teamed with Brownie McGhee and the two began a long lived musical partnership.
Country Blues Troubadours contains 125 tracks, spread out over five CD's, tracing blind harpist Sonny Terry and guitarist Brownie McGhee's earliest recordings between 1938 and 1948. JSP not only does an admirable job remastering the tracks, but providing recording dates, personnel, and a bit of history that is easily accessible in individual jewel cases, as opposed to a bulky booklet. Recorded in New York and Chicago, the Piedmont duo encounter, both separately and collectively, blues, jazz, and R&B veterans including Washboard Slim, Baby Dodds, Curley Russell, Hal "Cornbread" Singer, Gene Ramey, Big Chief Ellis, Blind Boy Fuller, Stick McGhee, and Champion Jack Dupree. The discs are divided into five themes: "Getting started and getting around," "Blind Boy Fuller and what followed," "Library of Congress and living with Leadbelly," "New York residents and established artists," and "Mainly Brownie and an interlude with Champion Jack." As far as budget-blues box sets are concerned, this is one of the best.
Excellent album of two of the greatest blues musicians, amazing and highly recommended.