Various Artists

Delta Blues/Cajun Two Step [Video]

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Delta Blues/Cajun Two Step is the second volume of footage shot by Alan Lomax at the Newport Folk Festival in 1966. It digs deeper yet into the sources of African-American roots music as a rich companion volume to its predecessor, Devil Got My Woman. This collection of rough footage shot by Lomax documents the infamous blues "cutting contest" between Son House, Skip James and Bukka White staged at the Newport Folk Festival. Bukka opens with a powerful "Aberdeen Mississippi Blues," loaded with foot-stomping energy and eye-popping showmanship, thus setting the stage for Skip James. James sounds eerily like one of his 1931 recordings on "Cherry Ball Blues," while a clearly juiced-to-gills Son House hectors and gestures at a frozen-in-place Bukka White throughout Skip's performance. When it comes time for House to perform his song, he is drunk enough to barely be able to pull off guitar runs that he must have known how to play in his sleep. James and White continue on without him, dueting on "Tombstone Blues." No less compelling than the blues performances here are the five Creole numbers of Alphone "Bois Sec" Ardoin (Armede Ardoin's nephew), who sang and played accordion in an emotional style very much akin to his legendary uncle, to the accompaniment of Louisiana fiddler Canray Fontenot. Finally, the African retentions echoed in blues-based music are dramatically driven home by extraordinary footage of Ed and Lonnie Young and the Fife & Drum Band. These residents of the Mississippi highlands, seen here in perfomance and casual conversation, bring riveting, ritualized performances that powerfully portray the continuity of African elements in new world surroundings.