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Reverend Keith A. Gordon

Blues News Update: Sid Hemphill On The Global Jukebox

By January 25, 2013

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Sid Hemphill & Lucius Smith

Here's a little something for the old-school blues man...on February 26, 2013 the digital-only label Global Jukebox will release The Devil's Dream, a fifteen-track collection of Alan Lomax recordings by influential Mississippi Hill Country bluesman Sid Hemphill. The Devil's Dream represents the first release devoted to Lomax's 1942 recordings of Hemphill, each track carefully transferred from the aging, fragile original acetate discs, digitally re-mastered and speed-corrected for modern listeners.

A gifted multi-instrumentalist that could play guitar, fiddle, banjo, harmonica, and piano, the blind Hemphill was a major player in creating what we now consider the Hill Country blues sound, mixing European influences with African rhythms in a manner that excited audiences at dances, picnics, and other get-togethers across Northern Mississippi (and would later influence fife and drum master Otha Turner as well as granddaughter Jessie Mae Hemphill). Lomax recorded Hemphill in August 1942 near Sledge, Mississippi with the artist backed up by a band that included guitarist Alec "Turpentine" Askew, Will Head, and banjo player Lucius Smith. Hemphill's music is one of the building blocks of modern blues, and well worth hearing for any fan of the genre. Check it out on the Global Jukebox website.

The blues has become a refuge for a number of artists that, having enjoyed success in the rock or pop worlds, have returned to their roots for to record albums of blues music. Steve Miller, Hugh Laurie, and Cyndi Lauper are among those that have come "back to the blues" in recent years, but we think that a number of other artists could re-energize their careers by recording some good old-fashioned spitfire blues music. Read the Reverend's "Six Artists That Would Benefit From Making A Blues Album" and share your pick for an artist that should be singing the blues in the comments section.

Sid Hemphill & Lucius Smith photo by Alan Lomax, courtesy Library of Congress

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