The only bluesman to have recorded in every decade since the twenties, Henry Townsend is one of the founders of the St. Louis blues scene. Still actively performing into his nineties, he is a member of the "Delta Blues Cartel" with fellow blues giants, Robert Lockwood Jr., David "Honeyboy" Edwards, and Homesick James. A master of both the guitar and piano, he has put his indelible mark on the blues in recording after recording for labels such as Columbia, Paramount, Bluebird, Bullet, Decca, Prestige-Bluesville, Adelphi, Nighthawk, Wolf, and Swingmaster. Henry has also recorded under the names, Jesse Townsend and Henry Thomas. (Not to be confused with the songster, Henry Thomas from Texas.) He has worked with Big Joe Williams, Walter Davis, Roosevelt Sykes, Robert Nighthawk, Sonny Boy Williamson, Henry Spaulding, and Henry Brown among too many others to name.
A unique stylist with a distinctive sense of timing, his hands often sound like separate entities with a minds of their own. This phenomena is especially noticeable in his piano playing where his left hand will lay down a punctuated bass line while his right hand will follow along with a flurry of notes, often adjusting the musical measure to fit whatever he is feeling at the moment. Add to this formula his exemplary vocal phrasing and the three seemingly detached lines intertwine to weave a preeminent fabric of exceptional blues tartan. This highly individualistic approach creates a musically problematic labyrinth for his accompanists to decipher but Sho Komiya on acoustic bass and Ron Edwards on slide guitar handle this bewildering task very well. The same can be said about Jimmy D. Lane, who plays the dobro for a pair of songs. Their sensitive musical rapport demonstrates an understanding of Henry's style and their complimentary additions convey this message effectively.
One might think that Henry's instrumental prowess would be the highlight of "My Story" but his lyrics are what really send this set over the top. He transcends time with his insight into the human psyche and communicates his thoughts about life and emotion with experience that few can surpass. In "Dreaming" he states, "I know you're dreaming, oh someday you gonna wake up. I know you dreaming, someday you gonna wake up. Find out your dream is not true darlin', you gonna have to drink from that bitter cup. Dreaming, about the things that you wish was true, Dreaming, bout the things that you wish was true, I know you don't know, what in the world gonna 'come of you."
Recorded for APO Records at Blue Heaven Studios in Salina, Kansas, the engineering on "My Story" is excellent. The sound quality is absolutely pristine. Each nuance of the instruments is picked up, separated, and thoroughly conveyed. Henry's voice is uncorrupted by the recording process and its sonancy is as authentic as his blues.
Henry Townsend's "My Story" is the complete package. Excellent musicianship and superb sound quality are combined with great songs filled with meaningful lyrics. Even at his age, Henry is in fine form. (They recorded these twelve songs in just two days.) His personality, individualistic style, and interpretative songwriting will sustain his legendary status well into the 21st century.
Analogue Productions Originals, P.O. Box 1905 Salina, KS 67402-1905
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