Monday, November 22, 2010

Tearin' Little Daddy

Sleepy John Estes- Newport Blues

Album Review:
"One of the phrases that obsessive blues collectors love to hear is "previously unreleased." They're always hoping that a label will unearth a rare John Lee Hooker or Lightnin' Hopkins recording that, for whatever reason, has remained in the can for 30 or 40 years. So imagine how ecstatic blues collectors were when, in 2002, Delmark described this Sleepy John Estes CD as a "never-before-released July 28, 1964, session." Those are the sort of words that drive collectors wild, especially when the bluesman in question is someone of Estes' stature. And Estes is in good to excellent form on these 1964 performances, which find the Tennessee country blues icon forming an acoustic trio with longtime colleagues Hammie Nixon (harmonica, jug) and Yank Rachell (mandolin, guitar, piano). Newport Blues is an appropriate title for this 65-minute CD because on July 28, 1964, Estes had just appeared at the Newport Folk Festival, and he popped into New York before heading back down south. This session was hardly the first time that Estes had joined forces with Nixon and Rachell -- the three of them had been playing together since the '20s, and in 1964 their rapport was still quite strong. One of the things that makes Newport Blues so much fun is the session's informal, jam-like atmosphere. Estes and his friends certainly don't sound like they're in a high-pressure situation; Newport Blues sounds like three musical friends getting together for some relaxed, good-natured fun. Most of the singing is handled by Estes, although the singer/acoustic guitarist occasionally features Nixon or Rachell on lead vocals. Newport Blues falls short of essential, but it's an enjoyable disc that Estes' more devoted fans will want to acquire."

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1 comment:

Corfu Bluesman said...

Fascinating item. Have to get this Sleepy John material.

Talking of unreleased and rare John Lee Hooker material, I made a recording of John Lee back in 1964 (I wrote or co-wrote many of the lyrics myself)as a blues soundtrack for a film I made as a university student. It seems very complicated to get it released, as there is so much John Lee material in circulation and awaiting re-issue. But it is fascinating, as the songs contain hidden quotes from T.S.Eliot and Shakespeare!