If you enjoy listening to the historic roots of the blues we hear today, here are a couple of recent releases that should give you an earful of some great music.
Edward James “Son” House Jr., or Son House, was a unique figure in blues history. His highly emotional vocals and slide guitar playing combined to give him a powerful, sometimes almost otherworldly, sound.
After a stint as a preacher in his early 20s, House performed and recorded from the mid-1920s to the mid-’40s, when he gave up music and moved to Rochester, N.Y. He was rediscovered in 1964 and enjoyed a revival of his career during the ongoing folk-blues years until he retired again in 1974 for health reasons.
After he was rediscovered in 1964, he recorded what would become his seminal album, “The Legendary Son House: Father of Folk Blues,” in 1965 on Columbia Records.
But, as it turns out, he was recorded earlier, at a November 1964 performance at Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Ind., by Dick Waterman. who has had tapes of that show stashed away for the past 60 years. Waterman was one of three blues fans who tracked House to his Rochester home and then helped to revive his career.
Now, material from the Wabash concert has been released by Dan Auerbach’s Easy Eye Sound record label.
The recordings come from a Nov. 23, 1964 performance Son House gave at Wabash in Crawfordsville. Five months later, the blues legend cut the Columbia album, which introduced him to a new, wider audience.
The album contains new versions of seven songs House later recorded for Columbia — including a new rendition of “Preachin’ Blues.” The title track had never been recorded, but was played at his live performances.
Down Home Blues Revue — Various Artists — VizzTone Label Group
Here’s a fine album of tracks recorded by Bob Corritore between 1995 and 2012 in Phoenix, Ariz., at Corritore’s club, the Rhythm Room.
This is another one of the excellent classic blues recordings in Corritore’s “From the Vault” series, recorded as performers passed through his club.
This 13-track album includes some great blues by Honeyboy Edwards, T-Model Ford, Henry Townsend, Big Jack Johnson, Robert “Bilbo” Walker, Smokey Wilson, Tomcat Courtney, Dave Riley, Pecan Porter, and Al Garrett.
If classic blues is your thing, give these albums a listen.
Here’s a Rolling Stone article about the Son House album.
A video of “Preachin’ Blues.”