CLASSIC APPALACHIAN BLUES Various artists Smithsonian/Folkways 40198
I’m not sure where the designation “Appalachian Blues” came from, possibly Alan Lomax – he used it for one of the “Deep River of Song” albums in the ALAN LOMAX COLLECTION from Rounder. Whatever the origin, Barry Lee Pearson and Jeff Place use it here. This is a collection of music, mainly by African Americans, that is blues and blues-based with a strong ragtime feel to the guitar playing. It’s a marvelous collection/selection of recordings from various Smithsonian festivals and the Folkways archives. There are two pieces book-ending the CD by Stick McGhee (Brownie’s brother) w. Sonny Terry and J.C. Burris, the other “pages” being by the likes of pianist Big Chief Ellis w. John Cephas and Phil Wiggins, John Jackson, Bill Williams, Pink Anderson, J.C. Burris, Gary Davis, Brownie McGhee, Archie Edwards, Martin, Bogan & Armstrong, Lesley Riddle, Peg Leg Sam, Etta Baker, Josh White, Baby tate, Marvin & Turner Foddrell, and John Tinsley. The White fellas are E.C. Ball, Doc Watson, and Roscoe Holcomb. Most are not household names, but all are good and well worth hearing. Some of the performers are majorly important, even though most folks are unaware of that. [For example, Lesley Riddle helped A.P. Carter (as did Brownie McGhee) collect material from Blacks for The Carter Family to add to their repertoire.] This is a wonderful album of wonderful music that I cannot recommend to highly – over an hour playing time with thorough documentation. This is how such a collection is meant to be done! Fantastic!!
PETER B. LOWRY
pub. THE BLUES TIMES: #228; Mar ’12, p. 8.