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MUSIC MAKERS SISTERS OF THE SOUTH - A WHOLE LIFE OF BLUES (2 CD PACK)

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DIXIE FROG (DFGCD8649)

Cora Fluker, Cora Mae Bryant, Algia Mae Hinton, Precious Bryant, Essie Mae Brooks, Beverly Guitar Watkins, Etta Baker, Willie Mae Buckner, Annie Griggs, Pura Fe, Lucille Lindsay, Sweet Betty, Mother Pauline & Elder James Goins, Marie & Bishop Dready Manning.

What a collection! Here are of some of the finest women blues musicians today playing with a verve and assertiveness that you expect from singers half their age - the youngest being 50 and the oldest 89!

These gals are truly amazing - from Essie Mae Brooks' gospel tunes and Cora Fluker's rural hollers to Willa Mae (The Snake Lady) Buckner's double entendres and Curley Weavers' 82 year old daughter Cora Mae Bryant who lays her breathy vocals over the McTell influenced guitar of Josh Jacobson. She's particularly fabulous on the slow groove of "Blues Was My Best Friend" and her "Born To Die" is one of the best cuts on the album.

During the 60s folk boom, Etta Baker was a big hit and her deft, clean playing style was still apparent even at the age of 89 years old when she recorded these five tracks. Listen to her stunning guitar technique on "John Henry" and gorgeous runs on the old blues "Going Down The Road Feeling Bad". Algia Mae Hinton plays guitar in a beautiful ringing Piedmont style while she sings in a sassy, assured manner. Her songs rock along in a warm relaxed style that is bound to capture your attention, especially when she does Jimmy Reed's "You Don't have To Go" with Taj Mahal filling in on harmonica. Precious Bryant happily choogles her way through oldies like "Fever" and her own careering numbers like the brilliant "Wasn't I Scared?"

The album is full of great moments like when Mother Pauline sings the ethereal "Prayed" over Elder James Goins stealthy but creepy guitar style or when Sweet Betty steps up with her lovely version of Sam Cooke's "Good News" which she opens with a sweet warble and ends in a full blooded soul-filled bellow over a simple riff on the bongos! Pura Fe raises the goose-bumps when she slides into a sinuously ghostly take on Skip James "Hard Times Killing Floor" and Marie Manning bawls out some genuine old time gospel while her husband beats the be-jesus out of his old acoustic guitar.

These wonderful blues sisters perform 46 tracks with a warmth and poise that reflect all their years in the blues. The whole thing is heaving with genuine talent. Tim Duffy and his Music Maker Foundation should be proud for making it available to us.

These two enhanced CDs contain video programmes that will play on most computers. Six of the singers are featured on CD1 and CD2 contains a 2003 visit to Etta Baker's home.

Review Date: November 2008

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