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

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


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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

Product Details

Release Date: 06/12/2001
Label: Vanguard Records
UPC: 0015707958226
catalogNumber: 79582
Rank: 159669

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

Customer Reviews

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Avalon Blues: A Tribute to the Music of Mississippi John Hurt 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year 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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.