Blues Bytes

Pick Hit

December 2006

an associate

Richard Ray Farrell & Steve Guyger
Down Home Old School Country Blues
Blue Beat Music

Richard Ray Farrell and Steve Guyger

It’s not always the case with modern albums, but on the new disc by Richard Ray Farrell and Steve Guyger you get exactly what it says on the packet – just good old Down Home Old School Country Blues. It’s played by two musicians who really love their trade and have a wealth of blues experience between them.

Richard Ray Farrell and Steve Guyger, both now based in Philadelphia, are two guys whose love of blues music just spills out and corrupts everyone around them – the enthusiasm just bubbles out of them. I can’t think of a better way to showcase their enthusiasm and their skill than to put out an album like this. It’s obviously the music that influenced them as they started on their careers, and they treat it with the respect that it deserves. There’s no double tracking, no synthetic music, no wah wah boxes, no distortion – just pure blues played the way it has always been played down through the years.

From Sonny Boy Williamson’s “Good Mornin’ Little Schoolgirl” through Big Bill Broonzy’s “Diggin’ My Potatoes,” there isn’t a bad track on the whole CD (or even one that is less than perfect!). From “Schoolgirl” onwards these two guys dip into Little Walter, Tampa Red, Robert Lockwood, Tommy Johnson, Big Joe Williams, and more – the choice of tracks is almost as good as the execution of them. Listen to “Rollin & Tumblin,” “Sail On” and “Big Road Blues,” and you'll be soaking up the flavour of what the blues is all about.

Both of the Sonny Boys are represented, the original and Rice Miller, and the sleeve notes carefully detail the composer of each song. To me, the track that truly represents what this album is all about is Robert Lee McCoy’s “Friar’s Point Blues” (track five). Farrell’s picking and vocals are perfectly complimented by Guyger’s warm harmonica tones to produce a little piece of magic taking you back to the 1930s.

As you progress through the album you get to hear the different vocal styles of Steve Guyger and Richard Farrell, with each taking a turn on vocals – Farrell is smooth and nasal, Guyger rough and gritty, and the contrast is perfect – I just hope that this isn’t the only collaboration between the two of them.

If you like country blues, traditional blues, old blues, any old blues, buy this CD and enjoy!!

--- Terry Clear


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