A live set recorded March 19, 1986 in Paris, France, Mississippi Blues Festival includes seven tracks by North Mississippi folk-blues artist Jessie Mae Hemphill followed by five tracks by Hezekiah & the House Rockers. Hemphill plays her trademark ragged, modal North Mississippi juke joint guitar style, and is joined by folklorist Dave Evans on guitar and Hezekiah Early on drums on three cuts, including a wonderfully ramshackle and fiery version of "Streamline Train," Hemphill's interpretation of Junior Parker's "Mystery Train." Early leads his band through five fairly generic blues rockers to close the disc, but the band's unusual instrumentation keeps things interesting, since one seldom hears a trombone (played by Pee Wee Whittaker) featured so prominently in a juke setting. Truthfully, the trombone takes some getting used to, but Early is a capable singer (Whittaker also shares the singing chores) and a wonderfully loose-as-a-goose drummer, so the set works in spite of some pitch problems. Hardly essential, Mississippi Blues Festival will be best appreciated by serious fans of the North Mississippi blues style looking to round out their collections.
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AllMusic Review by Steve Leggett