Homemade is the latest CD from John Cephas and Phil Wiggins since their last release on the Alligator label, Cool Down, which followed seven earlier releases between the Evidence, Flying Fish, L&R, and Merrimac labels. Homemade contains a lot of fine music in one CD on 15 tracks, with most ranging around a comfortable 3 minutes in length, and a healthy mix of traditional blues and originals songs. Although their popularity is increasing with the current resurgence of interest in acoustic blues, these two have been producing extraordinary country blues since they met at a folk festival in 1976.
Cephas, born in 1930, is 24 years Wiggins' senior. Both were born in Washington DC and continued to live in the area where they've honed their Eastern blues style. Homemade is a perfect example of the talent, skill and chemistry possessed by this fine duo with John Cephas' Piedmont style guitar work and Phil Wiggins' easy-going harmonica playing. Their sound is rich and full. Each tune has a smoothness in it's character indicative of John's fingerpicking and his deep and mellow voice.
On Homemade, Cephas & Wiggins recreate some of the classics such as "Trouble In Mind" and Blind Boy Fuller's "Mamie" (the opening cut) and "Pigmeat." They also offer up renditions of "Worried Life Blues," "Illinois Blues," "Me And My Chauffeur," and Rev. Larry Davis' "Slow Blues." Also here are eight original tunes in the Piedmont tradition. These are blues songs about blues with titles like "A Lot Of Them Blues," "Leaving Blues" and "Sounds Of The Blues."
The songs on this CD are a rainbow of emotion expressed with exemplary musicianship and a respect for the roots of the blues. The liner notes also contain comments by John Cephas on each song explaining either the special meaning they have for him or why they were chosen for this CD. Thoroughly enjoyable.
This review is copyright © 1999 by Kurt Koehler, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved.