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TonyDoug's CD Review: Jim Dickinson Field Recordings

by tonydoug wright

Jim Dickinson Field Recordings, Delta Experimental Project Vol. 3 (Birdman Records, 2003)

THE BAND: This CD is a compilation of various Blues musicians such as Alec Teal and Butter Biscuit; Johnny Woods; Walter "Furry" Lewis; Sleepy John Estes; Mose Vinson and Otha Turner. Some of the aforementioned artists were also featured on the PBS documentary The Blues (Martin Scorsese).

THE HISTORY: Jim Dickinson is a Memphis musician and producer who has worked with rock n roll legends such as The Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan and produced albums for Alex Chilton and Big Star. Alec Teal is listed as Dickinson's "Childhood friend and teacher" while Mose Vinson was Sun Records janitor known for knocking out a rival blues pianist. Walter "Furry" Lewis spent most of his life sweeping Beale Street (Memphis) while Johnny Woods claimed to have worked "for every white man in North Mississippi". Otha Turner, Godfather of the Mississippi Hill Country Blues, and Sleepy John Estes round out the list of musicians on the album.

THE REVIEW: The Delta Experimental Project Vol. 3 is a wonderful piece of American cultural and musical history. Recorded in Tennessee and Mississippi, these somewhat lo-fi recordings are filled with a great deal of love for the blues. This album does contain "traditional" slide-guitar songs ("Furry's Blues" by Walter "Furry" Lewis) and piano melodies ("Barrel House Blues/Cryin' Won't Make Me Stay" by Mose Vinson). But there are "non-traditional" blues played with a drum and fife ("Roll Me Over Slow" by Alec Teal and Butter Biscuit) and blues that follow the beat and style of a chain-gang ("My Babe" by Otha Turner and the Rising Star Fife and Drum Band). This album reflects music that comes from hardship and pain. Mr. Dickinson should be praised for his excellent work.


Issue 18, December 2003

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