Thursday, 13 September 2007

Spencer Bohren - Southern Slidin' Blues

Spencer Bohren is a blues/folk guitarist and singer from New Orleans, USA. I saw him live at Beverley Folk Festival in 2006, and though it seems like ages ago (primarily because it was), I can remember the gig clearly. Bohren is a master of the lap steel guitar, and in an intimate venue (such as it was), to see someone play this quaint ol' instrument with such virtuosity, is awe-inspiring.

Bohren has a hefty back catalogue, which made it all the harder to decide which one of his CDs to purchase from the merchandise guy after the gig. On being told, "this one's got loads of slide guitar", I plumped for 2004's "Southern Cross", released on the German label Valve Records

Although the quality of the recording is not always what it could be (a peril of recording for minor German record labels perhaps?), the music is impeccable. Most of the tracks are cover versions, though the few originals are equal in quality to tracks by the likes of Hank Williams (represented twice, with "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" and album closer "Lost Highway") and Curtis Mayfield.

It's impossible to describe in words just how good this guy is, so here are a couple of tracks for your listening pleasure, which should illustrate my point rather well. First up is Bohren's take on the Curtis Mayfield classic, "People Get Ready", transformed from soul masterpiece to slide-driven Americana - a beautiful reinterpretation of a legendary track. Secondly, we've got the age-old gospel song, "Workin' On A Building", which is just great, even to a Godless heathen like me. Enjoy.

Spencer Bohren - People Get Ready

Spencer Bohren - Workin' On A Building

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