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John-Alex Mason - Town and Country

Town and Country

John-Alex Mason

Naked Jaybird Music - NJBM-006

Available from CD Baby.

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Bob Gottlieb
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This occasional one-man band mixes seven original tunes with eight by people such as Charley Patton, Robert Johnson, Skip James, and Bukka White, among others, with a deftness that makes for a seamless blend of material. Mason mixes his love for Piedmont, Delta and Hill Country blues with equal results on this disc, and unites it all with a voice that is drenched in the intensity of the songs, that belies the fact that he grew up in Colorado, thousands of miles from the closest of these regions. He knows his traditions and is faithful to them even on the songs he writes; the blues influences of these three regions are evident. On the eight "Town" tracks he plays an electric guitar, Lowebow (a cigar box guitar with one super low bass D string and 3 guitar strings tuned to a baritone DAD chord, made by Johnny Lowe, another one-man band) and foot drums. When he goes up to the seven country tracks his instrument is a National Style "O" guitar. The music often has that hypnotic Hill Country Blues drone that is so good for getting people up on the dance floor.

There aren't any surprises or revelations in the music, but there is plenty of good music, individually the songs are good, but there isn't a dynamic that makes an individual song stand out. It shows what one person can do to create a movin' and shakin' atmosphere. The art of a one-man band is a disappearing art and this would be a performer that would be worth checking out, both for the novelty and the good music he produces.

Track List:

  • Shake 'em on Down (OMB) (Trad., arr. Mason)
  • Steel Pony (Mason)
  • Bury My Boots (Mason)
  • Terraplane Blues (Robert Johnson, arr. Mason)
  • Boll Weevil (Trad., arr. Mason)
  • Chef Menteur (Mason)
  • Strange Things (Mason)
  • Milk Cow Blues (Trad., arr. Mason)
  • Locomotive (Mason)
  • What Are You Hungry For? (Mason)
  • Rabbit Song (Mason)
  • Jitterbug Swing (Trad., arr. Mason; additional lyrics by Mason)
  • Cypress Grove (Skip James, arr. Mason)
  • Shake Your Money Maker (Elmore James, arr. Mason)
  • Shake 'em on Down (Trad., arr. Mason)

Edited by: David N. Pyles

Copyright 2008, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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