Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Best of 2016: Influential blues guitar

Reviewed by Jim C.,
Reference Librarian

by various artists

Texan Blind Willie Johnson recorded 29 songs between 1927 and 1939. He accompanied himself on guitar, often played with a slide, sometimes singing with his wife. Most of Johnson’s songs have Biblical themes. His instrumental “Dark was the Night, Cold was the Ground” was included on the record that was sent into space aboard the Voyager space probe in 1977.

While Willie Johnson is not as famous as other early blues guitarists such as Robert Johnson, he has been an influence on musicians such as Ry Cooder (“Paris, Texas”) and Led Zeppelin (“Nobody’s Fault But Mine”).

This tribute collection was funded by Kickstarter, and features a variety of “Americana”-style interpretations by Tom Waits, Lucinda Williams, The Blind Boys of Alabama, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Luther Dickinson (with a fife and drum band), and others. It should be interesting to fans of contemporary Americana, and also serve as a pointer back to the original recordings.

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