Music Reviews

Down the Dirt Road

The Songs of Charley Patton

Telarc Blues

While Robert Johnson captures the popular fancy, he had to learn to play guitar somewhere (unless you buy the Crossroads myth…). That somewhere, to some extent, is Charley Patton. Born in 1887 in Mississippi, Patton only graced the earth for 43 years, dying a few months after a recording session in New York (that yielded, in true “spooky blues” style, the song “Oh Death”). His output is scant, only around 60 songs or so, and they are split between eerie bottleneck blues and gospel numbers. It’s his arrangement of “I Shall Not Be Moved” that you are most familiar with, which is done well on this tribute CD by Paul Rishell and Annie Raines.

As brilliant and influential as he was, Patton is still rather unknown to the world at large, when compared to the Robert Johnsons and Son Houses of the blues scene. All this might be changing, however. The new Bob Dylan album, Love And Theft, features the song “High Water (For Charley Patton),” and a new seven-CD box set has been released on Revenent. So perhaps this tribute record is right on time. It serves as a good introduction to Patton’s music, and enables the novice listener to hear the songs without the limitations of the originals – which, having been originally released on 78s, haven’t aged well. The artists here play it rather straight – no prettying up the songs with elaborate backing or hip-hop beats, which is a relief. Standouts include Graham Parker on “Poor Me” and Steve James’ “Elder Greene Blues.” “Some of These Days” features Guy Davis, T-Bone Wolk, and Mark Murphy, with Levon Helm of The Band on drums. It’s a pity that Helm no longer has a singing voice, because his Arkansas-bred twang would do Patton justice.

If you don’t know Charley Patton, shame on you. If you’d like to learn, this is a good place to start. Once intrigued, move on to the various collections of his work available on Yazoo and other labels. You won’t be sorry.

Telarc, 23307 Commerce Park Road, Cleveland, OH 44122; http://www.telarc.com


Recently on Ink 19...

Porn and Ice Cream

Porn and Ice Cream

Screen Reviews

Three aimless misfits find themselves a purpose when they unwittingly start a band. It’s not your typical rock story, as Ian Koss explains.

Fire and Iceland

Fire and Iceland

Interviews

New York filmmaker April Anderson talks with Bob Pomeroy about volcanoes, horses, and making documentaries in Iceland.

Best of Film 2022

Best of Film 2022

Screen Reviews

With a year of festival and microcinema screenings behind them, Lily and Generoso select and review their ten favorite films, six supplemental features, and one exceptional repertory release of 2022.

Laura Citarella

Laura Citarella

Interviews

Director Laura Citarella, of the famed filmmaking collective El Pampero Cine, has created with her newest feature Trenque Lauquen a provocative transformation of her protagonist Laura (Laura Parades), whom Citarella first introduced in her 2011 film Ostende. Lily and Generoso enjoyed an in-depth conversation with Citarella about Trenque Lauquen when it screened at AFI Fest 2022.

New Music Now 009: Sleepyhead

New Music Now 009: Sleepyhead

Features

Join us for a new edition of New Music Now, with our special musical guest, Sleepyhead. All three members of the band are school teachers, so you didn’t hear it from us, but there might be a pop quiz about their album New Alchemy after the show.

Joana Pimenta

Joana Pimenta

Interviews

Back in 2018, Lily and Generoso selected Adirley Queirós’s Once There Was Brasilia as a top ten film. That feature’s cinematographer, Joana Pimenta, has now co-directed with Queirós one of the most expansive political films we’ve seen this year, Dry Ground Burning. Lily and Generoso interviewed Pimenta at AFI Fest earlier this month.

%d bloggers like this: