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Johnnys Blues by Various Artists

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.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Various Artists
  • CD Title: Johnnys Blues
  • Genre: Blues
  • Year Released: 2003
  • Record Label: NorthernBlues Music
  • Tracks: Train Of Love - Paul Reddick Get Rhythm - Clarence Gatemouth Brown Walking The Blues - Maria Muldaur Rock Island Line - Chris Thomas King I Walk The Line - Garland Jeffreys Folsom Prison Blues - Blackie & The Rodeo Kings Long Black Veil - Harry Manx Sunday Mornin Comin' Down Frankie's Man Johnny - Sleepy Labeef Redemption - Corey Harris Send A Picture Of Mother - Kevin Breit Big River - Colin Linden Will The Circle Be Unbroken - Mavis Staples'
  • Musicians: Paul Reddick; Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown; Benjy Davis; Maria Muldaur; Chris Thomas King; Garland Jeffreys; Blackie & The Rodeo Kings; Harry Manx; Alvin Youngblood Hart; Sleepy Labeef; Corey Harris; Kevin Breit; Colin Linden; Mavis Staples.
  • Rating: Four Stars
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