Maria Muldaur review October 6 2012…

MARIA MULDAUR

…FIRST CAME MEMPHIS MINNIE

STONY PLAIN CD  SPCD 1356

ME AND MY CHAUFFEUR–AIN’T NOTHIN’ IN RAMBLIN’–I’M GOIN’ BACK HOME–I’M SAILIN’–WHEN YOU LOVE ME–LONG AS I CAN SEE YOU SMILE–LOOKIN’ THE WORLD OVER–IN MY GIRLISH WAYS–SHE PUT ME OUTDOORS–KEEP YOUR BIG MOUTH CLOSED–TRICKS AIN’T WALKIN’–CRAZY CRYIN’ BLUES–BLACK RAT SWING

 

The illustrious career of Maria Muldaur dates back some fifty years, to her days as a member of both the Even Dozen and Jim Kweskin Jug Bands, thru her mid-Seventies popularity with hits such as “Midnight At The Oasis,” on thru to her return to her roots as a blueswoman.  Thru all her creative periods, she cites a deep affinity for the pioneers of women in blues, such as Victoria Spivey, Ma Rainey, and, perhaps the queen of them all, Memphis Minnie.  For her fortieth album, she pays tribute to the music of Minnie with “First Came Memphis Minnie.”  It features thirteen cuts, with Maria contributing several previously-released Memphis Minnie songs from two of her prior albums.  Three new songs are presented, one each from Bonnie Raitt, Rory Block, and Ruthie Foster.  Other previously-released cuts feature Phoebe Snow and Koko Taylor.

 

Maria starts the festivities with the double-entendre’-filled “Me And My Chauffeur,” with Roy Rogers on guitar.  Del Rey and Steve James add guitar and mandolin, respectively, on “Crazy Cryin’ Blues,” and give a real country-blues feel to Maria’s vocal on “As Long As I Can See You Smile.”

 

Phoebe Snow brings a cool, vintage acoustic vibe to “In My Girlish Days,’ originally released in 1976, and featuring guitar from David Bromberg.  Back in Minnie’s era, women were basically to be “seen and not heard,” and Ruthie Foster tackles this issue with her read of “Keep Your Big Mouth Closed.”  Bonnie Raitt extolls the virtues of settlin’ down, as there “Ain’t Nothin’ In Ramblin.”  And, Rory Block’s finger-picking prowess is in fine form on “When You Love Me.’  One of the coolest cuts comes courtesy of Koko Taylor, from her Blues Award-winning “Old School” CD from 2007 with “Black Rat Swing,” with Bob Margolin on the slide guitar.

 

Maria’s take on a Lucille Bogan song, “Tricks Ain’t Walkin,” served as our favorite.  Maria learned this song as a young woman from a 78 RPM that belonged to Victoria Spivey, opening up a whole new world of music to Maria.

 

Memphis Minnie was not only a stellar guitarist, singer, and writer, but was a strong-willed, independent woman who held her own in a male-dominated society.  That spirit is what compelled women such as Maria Muldaur to sing the blues, and it makes “First Came Memphis Minnie” a fitting tribute and an excellent listen!  Until next time….Sheryl and Don Crow

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