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samedi 13 novembre 2021







While the music enjoyed a more and more strong following in Europe, the late 60's and early 1970's were very lean years for the blues in the USA. Many a bluesmen that we saw and chatted with or interviewed when they were touring France during this era told us that those European tours were almost the only lucrative gigs they had! The country blues artists who had enjoyed some quite large exposures during the early 1960's were now playing almost only for friends or family with a very few paid gigs in colleges and Universities or some folk clubs. I saw Larry Johnson in 1973 in New York City in a Greenwich Village coffeehouse when he was playing a great set, backed by an excellent drummer (Bobby King), for an audience less than ten people, including us!

            So those sets! They have been recorded at two distinct small Southern Illinois Festivals sponsored by the Illinois Valley Community College and have been available only very confidentially. Pianist Memphis Piano Red, legendaries Tennessee bluesmen Furry Lewis, Sleepy John Estes, Hammie Nixon appear in good shape and deliver fine performances. But to my ears the highlight here is the still very young (at that time) Larry Johnson who demonstrates masterful Piedmont style country blues with a driving fingerpicking guitar style and good vocals.

            Thanks a lot to all involved in the recordings and preservation of the music and to the website Downstate Sounds (Exploring the musical past of Illinois outside Chicagoland!) and enjoy this rare performances.

                                                           Gérard HERZHAFT


MEMPHIS PIANO RED, vcl/pno. Oglesby, Ill. 22 mars 1974

01. Pinetop's boogie woogie

02. Home at last

03. You don't have to go

04. Mother-in-law blues

SLEEPY JOHN ESTES, vcl/g; Hammie Nixon, hca/jug/kazoo/vcls. Oglesby, Ill. 22 mars 1974

05. Corrina Corrina

06. President Kennedy stayed away too long

07. Rats in my kitchen

HAMMIE NIXON, vcl/hca/jug; Sleepy John Estes, g. Oglesby, Ill. 22 mars 1974

08. Yellow yam blues

FURRY LEWIS, vcl/g. Oglesby, Ill. 22 mars 1974

09. Mary Tell blues

LARRY JOHNSON, vcl/g. Normal, Ill. 21 mai 1971

10. Ragged and dirty

11. How long blues

12. Got the blues can't be satisfied

13. Nobody's business if I do

14. Saturday night blues

15. Pick poor Robin clean

(The performances here were recorded by Greg Steil at Illinois Valley Community College)