Smithsonian Folkways are to release another great compilation in their Smithsonians Classic series titled Classic Harmonica Blues. As the name suggests it features some of the leading harmonica luminaries such as Doctor Ross, Eddie Burns, Jazz Gillum, and Sonny Terry. The coverage is vast: spanning six decades as well as including several stylistic categories and geographic regions — including jug band, Piedmont, and Midwestern styles. It also includes eight previously unreleased recordings from the Smithsonian Folklife Festival dating back as far as 1977.
Popularized in the late 19th century by German clockmaker Matthias Hohner, the harmonica has shaped the personality, sound, and form of American music like few other instruments. Although adopted by various genres, the instrument became an essential part of the blues, particularly benefitting those marginalized by race, class, or geography. By manipulating the instrument in ways never originally intended, blues harmonica players create an expressiveness similar to that of the guitar, the other instrument central to the blues form.
As with every compilation in the Smithsonian Folkways Classic Series, Classic Harmonica Blues explores the breadth and depth of a genre while the liner notes offer insight into the cultural and historical contexts of each selection. During the last 10 years, Smithsonian Folkways has released Classic compilations of bluegrass, folk, blues, maritime, old-time, and mountain music, among others. Pearson has contributed to seven previous Smithsonian Folkways recordings, most recently Classic Appalachian Blues, and Place has produced more than 50 recordings, including the GRAMMY-winning Woody at 100: The Woody Guthrie Centennial Collection.
The album was compiled, produced, and annotated by Barry Lee Pearson and Jeff Place and will be released on May 21st 2013.
Classic Harmonica Blues tracklist:
1. Theme Song Doctor Ross, the Harmonica Boss 2:54
2. Heart in Sorrow Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee 2:58
3. Take Your Fingers Off It Will Shade, Charlie Burse, and Gus Cannon 2:52
4. Nine Below Zero Eddie Burns 3:33
5. Bye Bye Bird Charlie Sayles 3:09
6. Gillum Blues Jazz Gillum 2:13
7. Crow Jane Blues Sonny Terry 1:58
8. Dog Days of August John Cephas and Phil Wiggins 4:09
9. Minglewood Blues John Sebastian and the J Band (with Annie Raines) 3:41
10. Good Morning Little School Girl Doctor Ross, the Harmonica Boss 3:36
11. Sweet Home Chicago Phil Wiggins and the Robert Johnson Tribute Band 4:15
12. One Way Out Eddie Burns 2:25
13. Boogie Baby Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee 2:30
14. Low Down Blues Neal Pattman 3:07
15. Hooka Tooka Chambers Brothers 2:25
16. Train Piece Charlie Sayles 5:07
17. Chicago Breakdown Doctor Ross, the Harmonica Boss 3:40
18. I Feel So Good Warner Williams and Jay Summerour 2:00
19. Barbara Allen Blues Roscoe Holcomb 1:26
20. Custard Pie Sonny Terry and unknown washboard band 2:48