2019 – Big Legal Mess Records
By Phillip Smith; March 2, 2019
The Music Maker Relief Foundation, whose mission is “to preserve the musical traditions of the South by directly supporting the musicians who make it, ensuring their voices will not be silenced by poverty and time”, is issuing a new book and CD package called Blue Muse to celebrate their twenty-fifth year. According to their website, musicmaker.org, this organization, founded by Timothy and Denise Duffy, has helped with over 12,000 grants, and has supported 435 artists. Blue Muse contains twenty-one tracks of southern blues and roots music from various artists. It features recordings made from the nineties up to the present day, with tracks contributed by both Taj Mahal who beautifully performs “Spike Driver Blues” and Eric Clapton who joins with Timothy Duffy for a sweet instrumental cover of Willie Brown’s “Mississippi Blues”.
Eddie Tigner who played many years with the Ink Spots and was at one time the lead of Elmore James’ house band, tears it up on piano with his performance of “Route 66”. When Alabama Slim kicks off “I Got the Blues”, it puts a big smile on my face. His hypnotic guitar stylings pull me deep into the song. The soulful deep-cutting vocals of Robert Finley marvelously sing out on “Age Don’t Mean a Thing”. With Jimbo Mathus on guitar and Al Gamble on keys, this is southern soul at its best. Former Carolina Chocolate Drop co-founder Dom Flemons breaks out his harmonica and sings “Polly Put the Kettle On”. Ben Hunter appears on fiddle and Guy Davis on guitar, making this traditional song also covered by the blues-great Sonny Boy Williamson, a delightful listen.
One can feel the blues in the voice of the late great Piedmont Blues artist Algia Mae Hinton, who passed in February of 2018, as she delivers “Snap Your Fingers”. Guitar Gabriel’s “Landlord Blues” oozes with authenticity. ‘The Blues Doctor’ Drink Small from Columbia, South Carolina wonderfully sings and picks “Widow Woman”, a melancholy and reflective piece paying homage to those who have lost their husbands.
This collection also contains “I am the Lightning” from one my recent favorites, Willie Farmer whose latest album, The Man From the Hill was reviewed on my blog last month. This is such cool song. I was also happy to see Ironing Board Sam’s “Loose Diamonds” appear on this album too. His CD, Super Spirit, which this track is from, was one of my memorable finds in 2018 while visiting one of my favorite stores on the planet, Cat Head Delta Blues & Folk Art in Clarksdale, Mississippi.
Available by March 28th, 2019 , Blue Muse is also paired with a powerful 152 page companion book titled Blue Muse: Timothy Duffy’s Southern Photographs, published in association with the New Orleans Museum of Art, and loaded with tintype photos taken by Duffy of musicians representing American roots music. For more information or to purchase this set, visit musicmaker.org .