This is the kind of music that does my soul justice. The real blues in its purest form presented by none other than J.C. Burris. I had the honor of catching his act in Berkeley, many years ago. J.C. Burris (country blues harp ace) was born in 1928, near Shelby, North Carolina. The Carolina hill country has produced some of the finest guitar players in the land; I call it "Piedmont Country," a wonderful style of picking that is still being practiced and handed down. There's also a wealth of harmonica players. Sonny Terry, the brother of J.C.'s mother, was his biggest influence. Uncle Sonny taught him the rudiments of good harp playing, and it's quite evident as you listen to this important recording. The beauty of Burris, lies in the fact, that he wasn't prone to change. He kept his act together without the additional gimmicks of a current contemporary blues gig. His engagements took on the quality of the old medicine show: vocals, harmonica, rhythm bones, hand jive, and dancing with a doll he made out of old crate board. The doll's name was Mr. Jack, and in later years, he added to the collection by building a whole family for him. There are
twenty songs on this recording. On track #7: "Hand Jive," (no correlation to the monster hit by Johnny Otis) you will hear the melodic sounds of hand slapping. It's a primitive form consisting of tapping the chest, legs, arms, and hands; some practitioners would even use the top of the head with the mouth in full circle to capture a hollow (bass) sound. You don't have to visualize the song-it's all music! Unfortunately, most people nowadays, have no conception of the hand jive. And to see a good bone player is something you'll never forget. Playing the bones is very difficult; believe me, I'm speaking from experience. The liner notes provide information on obtaining a video of J.C. Burris in all his glory doing the hand jive, singing, playing, and dancing with Mr. Jack. This album is well beyond any rating system, it can be enjoyed by anyone; including fans of international music, and those less familiar with traditional forms. My highest recommendations.
This review is copyright © 2001 by Dick Houff, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved. Copy, duplication or download prohibited without written permission. For permission to use this review please send an E-mail to Ray Stiles.
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