Blues in Birmingham
February 20, 2006
It seemed quite appropriate to be sitting around the Big Pink Guesthouse and have Lost Jim Sings & Plays Mississippi John Hurt pop up on the iPod. Jim's got a beautiful rich smooth voice and is a fine, fine guitar player. He was the opening act when we saw Edie Carey last time at the Moonlight and I was quite knocked out by his playing & singing. I bought all the CDs he had for sale there and have been listening to them regularly since.
The Delta Blues Museum emphasizes the fact that the blues is living music. When Dylan ripped apart folk music in the early sixties it was partly because the afficianados had become so sanctimonious and calcified in their love for the music. They were killing it with adoration. Some blues "purists" are like that as well. Pretty ironic, since the bluesmen & women who are most revered were radical experimentalists, all of 'em.
On this album, despite his demur that his approach is "not particularly original," Lost Jim (and his fine group of collaborators) makes the songs sound as if he'd just knocked them together himself, sitting with friends around the studio. I'm sure Jim'd say that's just because John Hurt wrote such great, timeless songs. Too modest, by half.
It's clear, by the way, when you explore some of the rest of Jim's catalog (he's actually musician & music journalist Jim Ohlschmidt), that the blues is just one of his influences. Not About Me, recorded as Jim O, is superb contemporary singer/songwriter stuff and he's done some brilliant instrumental work as well.
Every time Tambourine Grrl and I go to the Moonlight we come away shaking our heads over all of the great music surrounding us. The big record companies can fuss and moan about declining CD sales and music piracy and all of the things that make their accountants break into a cold sweat. Ignore 'em. Modern music is in great shape -- you just have to look around and listen.