Most readers of this blog will be familiar with the legendary Mississippi John Hurt. His graceful syncopated fingerpicking and gentle voice have turned the hearts and ears of many. While mostly enjoyed by blues-lovers, Hurt was always classified as a songster: his style and repertoire dated back to the 19th Century, and he played his songs pretty much the same way every time (where as ‘true’ blues artists were said to be playing whatever they felt in the moment). Most people nowadays don’t really care about such distinctions, which is good ’cause it certainly didn’t make a whiff of difference to the musicians.
These two recordings predate his much better-known recordings for Vanguard, and they have a raw edge to them that the later recordings lack (not that those albums were overly pollished, but, you know…). The fact that some of these songs do differ from later versions show that in fact he was improvising and changing the music as he went. Take that, vampiric volklorists!
According to a biography of his life John Hurt learn to love and appreciate music and guitar playing from William H Carson, a man infatuated with his teacher at the St. James School, located in Avalon, Mississippi. John Hurt stated, “I wasn’t allowed to bother Mr. Carson’s guitar. I would wait until he feel asleep at my house, then I would slip his guitar into my room and try to play. There I learned to play the guitar at the age of nine years old. After that, my mother bought me a second hand guitar at the price of $1.50! 1 can tell you there was no more beautiful sound than my own guitar music. I was playing for country dances at the same time working very hard on a farm new Avalon Mississippi.”
Review by Cub Koda
This is the first in a multiple-volume series devoted to the Piedmont recordings Hurt made upon his rediscovery in the early ’60s. They capture him with his playing and singing still intact, untouched by the world around him, a world that had changed so much since he initially recorded back in the ’20s. Many of his best-known tunes are here — “Candy Man Blues,” “Salty Dog,” “Spike Driver Blues,” “Louis Collins,” “Spanish Fandango,” and the title track — and although Hurt was to re-record them for other labels, these versions are as fine as any. There’s really no one else in the blues with the gentle wistfulness of John Hurt, and this collection makes a wonderful addition to anyone’s blues or folk music collection.
Mississippi John Hurt – Avalon Blues
you salty dog.
mp3 320kbps | w/ cover | 75mb
Review by Ron Wynn
This second of two sessions devoted to Mississippi John Hurt’s first recordings followed the same pattern as its predecessor. Hurt did mostly blues, with an occasional spiritual number like “Oh Mary Don’t You Weep.” He sang in a fragile, yet powerful manner, backing his vocals on acoustic guitar in an equally simple, gentle manner with lines and riffs that often surpassed passages with far more intricate voicings. These two CDs restored into public circulation very valuable recordings.
Mississippi John Hurt – Worried Blues
don’t you weep.
mp3 320kbps | w/ covers | 92mb
and, apparently, there’s a museum and blues festival in his hometown of Avalon, Mississippi. Donating to them would be a better way of supporting his community & music than buying the albums, methinks.