Algia Mae Hinton

Honey Babe

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Although North Carolina native Algia Mae Hinton began playing guitar in the late '30s at the age of ten, Honey Babe, her first full- length album (an EP appeared in the mid-'80s on Audio Arts) wasn't released until 1999 when Hinton was 68. A casual collection of Piedmont blues, folk pieces, and gospel tunes, Honey Babe is full of warmth and joy, and even features a little of Hinton's trademark buck dancing. She sounds like a cross between Etta Baker and Elizabeth Cotten, also both from North Carolina, although she isn't quite as precise a guitarist as the former (Hinton's title tune, "Honey Babe," is a variation on Baker's signature "Railroad Bill" progression) or as timeless a writer as the latter (whose "Freight Train" and "Shake Sugaree" compositions have become folk-blues standards). She shares Cotten's fragile, delicate singing style as well, although Hinton's wry humor is all her own, and her sheer delight in music and motion is everywhere evident on this album. Among the highlights are "Honey Babe," "Snap Your Fingers," and an impressive turn at the banjo for "Out of Jail."

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