Sunday, October 11, 2009

Cecil Barfield-South Georgia Blues (1976/2009)

Ok, we aren't sure if this is the best blues album ever or the most ridiculous, it just depends on who you ask. When we first played it, some of us thought it couldn't be real, it had to be a parody. Perhaps someone making fun of how anyone can play the blues, because the singing sounds like complete mushmouth gibberish! Seriously, you and your pals can have a fun drinking game trying to figure out what the hell he's saying! But it's really no joke, Cecil Barfield (aka William Robertson, more on that in a minute...), one of the last surviving Southern Georgian bluesmen (according to the liner notes) was discovered in 1976 by George Mitchell, who was touring the state for field research in hopes of finding unknown ol' traditional rural bluesmen for a planned festival. One of the scant few left was Barfield, who to Mitchell's delight was previously unrecorded, living outside a tiny farm town on a meager disability check (in fact, the original lp was released under the name William Robertson, because Barfield was scared that he would lose his disability benefits if he released the record under his own name).
Born in 1922, he first started playing when he was just five years old, making his own
instruments by attaching a neck to a cooking oil can and tying a string to it. Learning music from what he could hear off records at parties, Barfield's style comes from what he calls "rag pieces", bits of popular tunes picked up from round dances and parties and often individually reworked according to the player. His moaning, wrenching vocal style lends a definite outsider quality to the performance, but supports the superstitious nature of some of the tunes, where he's singing about evil spells called "roots". He even refused to be photographed, because he feared anyone could turn the photo face down and kill him. But of course it's this oddball quality that we love in these records, and of course what makes them totally recommended in our book!"

This man has been infecting the very recesses of my mind. Haunting, beautiful blues music unlike any I've heard. Most definitely recommended.


1 comment:

sammi123tv said...

this sounds really interesting.. i like some of the more far out blues guys like little howlin' wolf, abner jay... hmm cant wait to listen to this one :)