At first glance, a blues album dedicated to Johnny Cash seems "out of place." However, once a couple of tracks have been played, it makes perfect sense. The press kit says it well. "Johnny Cash is America. And what better way to celebrate Johnny's contribution to America than to pay tribute through the music that started it all - blues."
Produced by Canadian bluesman, Colin Linden, this album is a gathering of stars. The award winning guitarist appears on Big River
and the groovin' Folsom Prison Blues
as part of Blackie & The Rodeo Kings. Both tracks also treat the listener to some fine piano by Richard Bell, one of my keyboard favorites. Gatemouth Brown and Benjy Davis melt the paint of the studio walls with a fiery version of Get Rhythm
. Gatemouth says "Johnny Cash understands simplicity. Simplicity is the hardest thing to achieve."
I've followed Maria Muldaur's career since her humble beginnings with the Even Dozen Jug Band and Jim Kweskin's fabulous groups in the sixties. She is heard here with guitarist Del Ray. Maria matured like a fine wine and will be even better next year. The singer heeds no boundaries, venturing seamlessly into all categories.
A couple of the finest guitarists on the current scene appear on this CD. Harry Manx renders Long Black Veil
in his trademark style. Kevin Breit performs the only instrumental piece on the album. His version of a Cash original, Send a Picture Of Mother
is captivating. Breit and Manx can be heard together on another NorthernBlues release, "Jubilee." The appearance of gospel legend, Mavis Staples, is noteworthy and fascinating. Staples appeared on TV with Johnny Cash and June Carter way back in the early sixties. There isn't a better version of Will The Circle Be Unbroken
anywhere. Too bad it's the shortest track on the album! Johnny's Blues
is very easy to like. Cash's importance as a "man of music" should be honored by all genres. I read recently that Johnny Cash had more than 120 singles on Billboard's list over the years.
This release will be on store shelves in mid-July.