Alvin Youngblood Hart is concerned with authenticity. On the disc in hand he plays a 1920s Bruno 5-string banjo, a 1915 Stella 12-string guitar, a 1928 National Triolian resonator guitar, a mid-1930s Regal Resonator, a Stella 6-string from the '30s and a Harmony mandolin from the 1940s. He doesn't just pay homage to the roots, he wears the tradition like a coat. On "Deep Blue Sea," for instance, he plays the banjo like a man in a 80-year old snapshot. He imbues Son House's "Jinx Blues" with soul and chops to spare. With nary an electric amplifier in sight, he recreates the poetry, the hard times, the real roots of the music. Listen to these traditional numbers, played so thoroughly and effectively in the tradition and be transported. "Bootlegger's Blues" ("make it to the woods if you can"), "Please Baby" ("won't you come back to your daddy one more time?"). This is the roots as deep as they go. The beautifully rendered version of Leadbelly's "Alberta" is transcendent. And listen to Hart's interpretation of Sleepy John Estes' "Broke and Hungry," Skip James' "Devil Got My Woman," Odetta's "Chilly Winds," again on banjo, and Charlie Patton's "Tom Rushen Blues."
There is no one that can touch Mr. Hart's way with the roots. What is most impressive is that this undertaken as a solo project. The support is self-generated.
It's heartening that so much traditional music has been recorded over the past few years. This is far and above the vast majority of any you've heard. This is a masterpiece.
Simply click on the CD cover at left to order this CD NOW!
This review is copyright © 2002 by Mark E. Gallo, and Blues On Stage at: www.mnblues.com, all rights reserved. Copy, duplication or download prohibited without written permission.
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