Guy Davis and Fabrizio Poggi review….March 9, 2017…

GUY DAVIS AND FABRIZIO POGGI

SONNY AND BROWNIE’S LAST TRAIN

A LOOK BACK AT BROWNIE MCGHEE AND SONNY TERRY

SONNY AND BROWNIE’S LAST TRAIN–LOUISE LOUISE–HOORAY HOORAY THESE WOMEN IS KILLING ME–SHORTNIN BREAD–BABY PLEASE DON’T GO BACK TO NEW ORLEANS–TAKE THIS HAMMER–GOIN’ DOWN SLOW–FREIGHT TRAIN–EVIL HEARTED ME–STEP IT UP AND GO–WALK ON–MIDNIGHT SPECIAL

Even the most casual of blues fans would likely recognize the unmistakable works of Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee, along with the fact that they were one of the most important blues duos of the 20th century.  Sonny Terry was a harmonica genius who grew up in the Raleigh-Durham, NC, area, while Walter Brown McGhee, from Knoxville, TN, began to get recognition following the death of Blind Boy Fuller.  He had a deep, resonant vocal tone, and his finger-picking skills were uniquely his own.  Sonny and Brownie made some beautiful sounds together, often traveling with Leadbelly, Pete Seeger, and Woody Guthrie.  Their recorded works will never be surpassed, but, in their honor, two of the most well-respected players on the contemporary scene, Guy Davis and Fabrizio Poggi, offer up a “love letter” of sorts, which is “Sonny And Brownie’s Last Train: A Look Back At Brownie McGhee And Sonny Terry.,” to be released on M. C. Records on March 24, 2017.

One could not have found a better pair of musicians to present the sounds, feelings, and traditions of this great duo, and they offer up a collection of twelve songs–one original from Guy, and the rest a mix of Sonny and Brownie originals and covers that they were known to perform over their illustrious career.  These cuts were recorded in June, 2016, in Milan, Italy, and were produced by Fabrizio.

This set is raw, primitive, and powerful–just the way Sonny and Brownie did it back in the day.  And, Guy and Fab do their utmost to present it in that fashion.  The fun starts with Guy’s original, a mythical interpretation of “Sonny And Brownie’s Last Train,” with Fab’s country-styled harp licks picking up speed as the song climaxes.  It is also interspersed with whoops and hollers in the tradition of Sonny and Brownie.  “Shortnin’ Bread” is presented here in a somewhat darker arrangement, while Leadbelly’s “Take This Hammer” comes out as a brilliant civil rights anthem.

We had two favorites, too.  Guy’s picking is in top form on the spirited, light-hearted take on Elizabeth Cotten’s “Freight Train.”  They close the set  with a fine read of that traditional tale of bein’ “penitentiary bound,” the iconic “Midnight Special.”

Both Guy Davis and Fabrizio Poggi are accomplished harp players, and Guy especially credits Sonny Terry for his own harp techniques.  Both pay their deep respects to the legendary duo of Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee with the reverential “Sonny And Brownie’s Last Train,” and this is one not to be missed!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

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