John Hammond has created his own niche as a solo blues performer armed with only his guitar, a harmonica and a rich singing voice that forages through historic explorations of country blues. Emerging out of the American folk movement of the 1960s, Hammond first brought his rich sense of the blues history and adept musicianship to the coffeehouse circuit in California and later to the burgeoning Greenwich Village scene in New York.
The son of noted and deceased Columbia Records executive John Hammond, Hammond grew up with his mother. After a short stint at Antioch College in Ohio, Hammond hitched his way to Los Angeles. At the age of 20, he inked his first record deal and began an impressive recording career that spans 25 years and more than 30 albums.
Also appearing on "Best of the Vanguard Years" is harmonica ace Charlie Musselwhite, guitarist Robbie Robertson, drummer Levon Helm, pianist Michael Bloomfield, bassist Jimmy Lewis and Hammond B3 organist Garth Hudson.
The recordings on this release include Willie McTell's "Statesboro Blues," as well as two previously unreleased tracks, "Ask Me Nice" and "Hellhound Blues."
Hammond is not a songwriter but has dedicated his life to re-interpreting blues classics, and in doing so, he has resurrected tunes that might have disappeared.
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This review is copyright © 2000 by Matt Alcott, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved.