Document Records - Vintage Blues and Jazz

Dirty Linen review of The Songster Tradition

Classic "early" blues from musicians such as Robert Hill, Eli Farmer Hambone Willie Newbern, Big Boy Cleveland, The Down Home Boys, Louie Lasky, Mississippi John Hurt, Cedar Creek Sheik, Virgil Childers, Richard "Rabbit" Brown and Luke Jordan are a rare commodity nowadays, and except for Mississippi John Hurt, who made a name for himself playing the Newport Folk Festival and the coffee house circuit, they've faded into oblivion, which is a crying shame.

Document Records has gathered some of the early recordings of these distinguished blues artists and has released them on a three disc set with liner notes and pictures. These performers were popular in their time and their tunes were blends of country music, hillbilly, field songs, guitar rags, love and murder ballads and gospel numbers.

Playing in medicine shows, ramshakle clubs and juke joints, they travelled the land, and it wasn't until record companies like Okeh began recording their music and putting the songs on vinyl in the late 1920s and early 1930s that these artists finally reached a wider audience.

Blues lovers will be especially thrilled to hear such legendary blues songs as "Cocaine Blues", "Stack 'O' Lee Blues", "Candy Man Blues", "Hey Lawdy, Mama", "Roll And Tumble Blues", "I Believe Someone's Riding My Mule" and "Travelin' Man" done by the original artists.

There is some mighty fine fingerpickin' and slide guitar work that still sends shivers all around.

TJM, Dirty Linen Magazine February/March 06 #122

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