Wasn't it Einstein who said that the passage of time is relative to the amount of fun we're having? All right, it wasn't, but an example of this was the first time I played this CD. A bit short, I thought, under the impression it had only lasted about twenty minutes. On checking, I found it's nearly 45 minutes.
It's a very accessible collection of pure and simple country blues and ragtime. All the tracks are solo performances, with Hawkins singing (on most tracks - not outstanding but certainly up to the job) and playing some nifty guitar throughout, with fine fingerpicking and the occasional bottleneck.
Hawkins says "As I look over these songs, I am struck by all the history that this music holds", and respect is both shown by him to the tradition and due to him for his role in continuing it. He studied under the Reverend Gary Davis and it shows. Other Davis students included Stefan Grossman and Roy Bookbinder; if you like their work, you would do well to investigate Hawkins. Among the bluesmen represented by songs here are Davis himself, Blind Blake, Blind Wille Johnson and Blind Boy Fuller. The first track is an interesting exercise which he describes as "maybe if Lighnin' Hopkins had a chance to steal Freddie King's Hideaway". Two of the songs are Hawkins originals, but it testifies to his ability to immerse himself in the country blues that they blend in seamlessly.
This CD won't stop the war. It won't overthrow any governments or shake your windows or rattle your doors. Its ambitions are humble - just to give three quarters of an hour of pleasure - and it succeeds admirably in that.
One minor quibble. I can't stand poodles at the best of times, and the one illustrating the self-penned title track on the insert looks particularly obnoxious. Give me a hellhound on my trail any day. If he wanted a picture based on one of the songs, "Weeping Willow" would have been more attractive and "Voodoo Soup" more interesting, and who knows what Gary Davis's "Dehlia" looked like?
Ernie Hawkins' website is at www.erniehawkins.com.
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