Henry Townsend's place in blues history is secure. Born in 1909, his recording career commenced in 1929 and he has since recorded in each and every decade, up to 1999, when this set was taped, making him the only bluesman who holds that remarkable achievement. Throughout, he has worked with an amazing list of names, including Walter Davis and Roosevelt Sykes, who swapped his knowledge of piano in exchange for some guitar tutoring. Produced by Chad Kassem at Blue Heaven Studios in Salina, KS, Townsend is comfortably in his element, alternating deft guitar skills and accomplished piano work. Backed by a duo of Sho Komiya's cohesive acoustic bass and Ron Edwards' slide playing, plus a pair featuring Jimmy D. Lane's dobro, the dozen tracks here sound bright, crisp, and focused, and if it weren't for exceptional sound quality, they could just as well have come from the 1930's. Townsend belies his age at every turn; while most folks half his years are looking for their car keys, this man is still composing solid blues, and pushing rhythms ahead with dexterity on either instrument he decides to make use of. "Help Me Darling," with Lane's assistance, smolders quietly as Henry rolls eloquent figures from the piano while Lane leaves the flash in favor of traits his father, the legendary Jimmy Rogers, taught him. "No Fuss And Fight" rumbles over Komiya's respectful undertones and Townsend shows that he has lost nothing when he picks up a guitar, proven again on the down and dirty "Put Me On Hold." Whether rolling through slow blues or quick paces, Henry's piano hits the mark each time with an innate ability to leave plenty of breathing room in order to stress the particular feel of a cut, and his guitar abilities retain the skillful touch he has always preferred, where rhythmic sense propels everything else. The tasteful accompaniment of Komiya and Edwards never intrudes, instead riding shotgun to a man who can still navigate and drive with the best of them. In his 90's, Henry Townsend refuses to give in to age and continues on, recently as part of the Delta Blues Cartel with Honeyboy Edwards, Robert Jr. Lockwood, and Homesick James. For those unfamiliar with Henry Townsend, locate this CD and his book, "A Blues Life," and delve into the life of a man who continues to rewrite history. For more information, try: www.analogueproductions.com and hats of to all involved with this fascinating document.
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