Blues musicians from the southeastern U.S. in the 1920s and '30s had a regional guitar sound that prominently featured a driving thumb on the bass strings, while melody was picked out on the high strings, a pattern that may have evolved from earlier Appalachian banjo styles. In general, these so-called Piedmont guitarists seldom used the slide techniques of the Delta players and worked a repertoire heavy with rags and re-constituted string-band tunes. This two-disc collection from Britain's Catfish Records has tracks from some of the more familiar East Coast names, including Blind Boy Fuller ("Shake That Shimmy"), Blind Willie McTell ("Georgia Rag"), Blind Blake ("Champagne Charlie Is My Name"), and Sonny Terry ("Harmonica and Washboard Breakdown"). The real strengths here, however, are the tracks from relatively obscure artists like Pink Anderson ("Gonna Tip out Tonight"), Luke Jordan ("Won't You Be Kind"), or the improbably named Skoodle Dum Doo & Sheffield ("Tampa Blues"). Other highlights include Peg Leg Howell's desperate and pleading "Please Ma'am" and Willie Walker's jaunty "Dupree Blues." While not as deep and ominous sounding as the more famous Delta players, the best of these musicians display dexterity on guitar that was unequaled elsewhere in country blues.
Raggin' the Blues: Essential East Coast Blues Review
by Steve Leggett