Various Artists – Expressin’ the Blues
For all the success of the House of Blues franchise and modernizers such as Keb’ Mo and Corey Harris, most practitioners continue to plow a lonely furrow. Like a latter day Alan Lomax, the aficionado Tim Duffy has devoted himself to discovering Southern performers who exist at the very margins.
Aside from providing openings for recordings, his Music Maker Relief Foundation also acts as a crutch in time of need, helping out with medical care and other sundry essentials. This month marks the release of the first batch of albums on the Cello label, including discs by the late Guitar Gabriel and fellow-troubadour Cootie Stark, a blind singer/guitarist who receives fleeting help from Taj Mahal and a low-down Lee Konitz. The atmospheric sampler forms an ideal point for the less committed, its dizzying clash of styles running from elemental chants to Piedmont guitar and the sophisticated balladry of Rainy Night in Georgia. Roots music doesn’t come much rootsier. –London Times 5/15/99