Avalon Blues: A Tribute to the Music of Mississippi John Hurt

Avalon Blues: A Tribute to the Music of Mississippi John Hurt

Various Artists

Vanguard

Avalon Blues is a labor of love for singer-songwriter Peter Case, who brought a diverse but like-minded bunch of artists together to pay tribute to country bluesman Hurt, who recorded first in the 1920s and then saw a career renaissance during the folk revival of the late ’50s and early ’60s.

The collection includes talented pickers like Chris Smither and Peter Mulvey on the opening acoustic tour de force “Frankie and Albert” and John Hiatt on the charming and homespun “I’m Satisfied” that concludes the record. The stark rhythmic groove that Hurt was known for can be heard to good effect in the haunting drone of Canadian Bruce Cockburn’s 12-string guitar on the nostalgic “Avalon, My Home Town.” Case himself appears on the track “Monday Morning Blues” with Dave Alvin, and the duo manage to bring both of their own styles to Hurt’s work. Similarly, Steve Earle (with son Justin) brings his own vibe to the double entendre-laden “Candy Man” (“All I heard was Sister Johnson said/She always take a candy stick to bed“).

Veteran Hurt aficionado Bill Morrissey, who recorded an entire album of Hurt songs in 1999, brings his best growly blues voice to “Pay Day.” Taj Mahal’s take on the Louisiana-flavored “My Creole Belle” is an album highlight. And Beck surprisingly plays it straight on a version of “Stagolee” that reminds us he could have a promising blues career if he ever wanted to give up the irony-drenched, genre-bending pop music.

The women shine on this tribute record as well. Lucinda Williams, who has done more than a few songs with “angel” in the title during her career, is in fine voice on “Angels Laid Him Away.” And Gillian Welch again displays her fascinatingly hypnotic take on traditional music on the gauzy “Beulah Land.” But nothing quite prepares you for the eccentric performance by Case’s ex-wife Victoria Williams on “Since I’ve Laid My Burden Down.” Even those familiar with her unique style may be surprised by the breathless fervor she brings to the track.

Vanguard Records, 2700 Pennsylvania Avenue, Santa Monica, CA 90404; http://www.vanguardrecords.com

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Recently on Ink 19...

  • Pokey Lafarge
    Pokey Lafarge

    In The Blossom Of Their Shade (New West Records). Review by Jeremy Glazier.

  • Best of Film 2021
    Best of Film 2021

    Lily and Generoso select and review their ten favorite features, seven supplemental films, and two prized repertory releases of 2021.

  • I Saw A Dozen Faces…
    I Saw A Dozen Faces…

    From The Windbreakers to Bark, Tim Lee is a trooper in the rock and roll trenches…and he’s lived to tell it all in his new memoir.

  • The Lyons
    The Lyons

    A man on his deathbed is surrounded by bickering family members, many of which you would strangle him given the chance. In other words: a brilliant comedy!

  • The Reading Room
    The Reading Room

    Today’s episode features author Anna-Marie O’Brien talking about her book Adventures of a Metalhead Librarian: A Rock N’ Roll Memoir with Ink 19’s Rose Petralia.

  • Bush Tetras
    Bush Tetras

    Rhythm and Paranoia (Wharf Cat). Review by Scott Adams.

  • Tom Tom Club
    Tom Tom Club

    The Good The Bad and the Funky (Nacional). Review by Julius C. Lacking.

  • Barnes & Barnes
    Barnes & Barnes

    Pancake Dream (Demented Punk Records). Review by Carl F. Gauze.

  • Jeremiah Lockwood
    Jeremiah Lockwood

    A Great Miracle: Jeremiah Lockwood’s Guitar Soli Chanukah Album (Reboot). Review by Bob Pomeroy.

  • Metallica: The $24.95 Book
    Metallica: The $24.95 Book

    From an underground band that pioneered the thrash metal sound, to arguably the biggest rock act in the new millennium, Metallica has had a long and tumultuous history. Ben Apatoff scours a myriad of sources to catalog this history in his new book.

From the Archives