Sleepy John Estes

Blues Live

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In Europe, blues fans can be an extremely devoted bunch -- many of the European blues fans are as knowledgeable as they are obsessive. So when a country blues legend like Sleepy John Estes performed at the Folk Club of Denmark during the '60s, you can be sure that the Danish blues lovers in the audience were savoring his every word. (Many Danes speak English fluently). This 2000 CD, which is a reissue of an old Storyville LP, focuses on '60s Folk Club performances by two Tennessee country blues singer/acoustic guitarists: the legendary Estes and the lesser known John Henry Barbee. If Estes was a major-league player in the Tennessee rural blues field, Barbee was minor-league--however, calling Barbee a minor-league player isn't saying that his performances weren't enjoyable. In fact, Barbee's set (which includes performances of Elmore James' "Dust My Broom" and Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup's "That's All Right") is pleasing and memorable. Nonetheless, Estes' set is the main reason to acquire this CD. Forming a duo with his partner Hammie Nixon (who is heard on harmonica and jug), Estes is in fine form on "Diving Duck Blues," "I'd Been Well Warned," "Mountain Cat Blues," and other compelling originals. Although not quite essential, this is a rewarding reissue that's worth adding to your collection if you're a serious fan of Tennessee country blues.

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