Maria Muldaur – Richland Woman Blues
A trip to Memphis Minnie's grave site in Walls, Mississippi several years ago inspired Richland Woman Blues. On the 25th recording of her wide-ranging career, Maria Muldaur celebrates one of the most profound inspirations of American music - the early blues of the 1920's and 30's. On this self-produced album, she collaborates with many of her contemporaries, all of whom she considers 'keepers of the flame'.
with John Sebastian: 1. Richland Woman Blues - 4:30 with Amos Garrett and David Wilkie: 2. Grasshoppers In My Pillow - 3:22 with Bonnie Raitt: 3. It's A Blessing - 3:46 with Roy Rogers: 4. Me And My Chauffeur Blues - 3:13 with Dave Matthews: 5. Put It Right Here - 3:17 with Alvin Youngblood Hart: 6. I'm Goin' Back Home - 2:57 with Angela Strehli: 7. My Man Blues - 4:04 with Roy Rogers: 8. In My Girlish Days - 2:17 with Tracy Nelson: 9. Far Away Blues - 2:55 with Alvin Youngblood Hart: 10. I Got To Move - 4:51 with Dave Matthews : 11. Lonesome Desert Blues - 3:03 with Taj Mahal: 12. Soul Of A Man - 2:50 with Ernie Hawkins: 13. I Belong To That Band - 4:19 with Bonnie Raitt: 14. It's A Blessing (Reprise) - 0:44
1. www.offbeat.com/music - Kathleen Rippey
On this, Maria Muldaur’s 25th recording in an under-recognized but vital career, she comes full circle by paying loving homage to those who inspired her, mentored her, and influenced her for life.
You may remember her lazy, swaying interpretation of Mississippi John Hurt’s wonderful “Richland Woman Blues” some 30-odd years ago when she was the “girl” singer in the Jim Kweskin Jug Band. It was then that Maria D’Amato met and married Geoff Muldaur and shortly thereafter stepped out on her own. Her voice isn’t quite as innocent and clear as in those “girlish days”—there’s a bit more whiskey and cigarettes in its timbre now, but that just lends more character, seduction and wisdom to the songs.
A trip to Memphis Minnie’s gravesite in Walls, Mississippi several years ago, prodded Muldaur to return to her first musical Muse, the blues of the ’20s and ’30s. She brings along with her on this celebratory recording special friends and old pals who walk down the lonesome highways of the past alongside Bessie and Clara Smith, Blind Willie Johnson, Reverend Gary Davis, Mississippi Fred McDowell, Memphis Minnie and, of course, Mississippi John Hurt. She reprises well her performance of Hurt’s title tune while good friend John Sebastian lends his agile picking to the tune.
Longtime collaborator, Amos Garrett, who has played guitar on numerous Muldaur sessions, returns to add his distinctive style to Leadbelly’s “Grasshoppers In My Pillow.” Slide maestro, Roy Rogers, contributes his considerable talents to two Memphis Minnie tunes, “Me and My Chauffeur Blues” and “In My Girlish Days.” For you fans of sly double entendre, you can’t beat Memphis Minnie for clever and empowered lyrics.
In fact, Muldaur credits Minnie with being a great role model for her as well as a musical influence, and says in her interesting and informative liner notes, “Her fierce independence, pluck and spirit, her ‘take-no-shit-from-nobody’ sass and attitude far pre-dated the women’s lib rhetoric and posturing that would emerge decades later. Memphis Minnie lived as she pleased, played her music as she pleased, wrote many of her own songs, played bitchin’ lead guitar and recorded some two hundred songs in her long and unique career.”
It’s sort of a baby-boomers soiree and who better to pay homage to the blues masters who gave their generation its soul and inspiration? Others who join Muldaur on the pilgrimage are Bonnie Raitt, Angela Strehli, Tracy Nelson, and Taj Mahal. Next gen Dave Matthews lays down some rockin’ piano on a couple of tunes as well.
“My voice has gotten stronger and deeper over the years,” Maria says, “and I feel like I’ve just begun to hit my stride, musically and creatively. When I sign these songs now, I’m finally able to feel that I have the right instrument, the depth of experience and the artistic chops to properly celebrate these great pioneering artists and their music.”
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