Album Review | Hard Danger Studio | Review by Allan Wilkinson
It’s hard to believe that even back in the 1970s, finding and collecting blues records was something you had to work at. The records were just not available, so the opportunities to discover the pioneers of the blues could only really be achieved by gluing one’s ear to the Alexis Korner radio show, whilst perusing the mail order lists on the back cover of Blues Unlimited magazine. Towards the end of the decade, physically seeking out and finding the old blues giants themselves, became an obsolete pursuit as many of them reached the end of their respective third chapters. Libby Rae Watson remembers driving out to Crawford, Mississippi in search of Big Joe Williams in the engaging preamble to “Big Joe”, which reminds us once again of what a thrill such an adventure must have been. Today, finding those old blues tunes is merely a matter of scrolling through Spotify and meeting those heroes would take less than a few seconds on Facebook; much more immediate, but not half as much fun.
‘Fun’ is a good way of describing some of the songs on She Shimmy, blues music rooted in the string band tradition, where washboards, kazoos, jugs and shimmering mandolin runs ruled the day. Joining forces with Swedish blues aficionado Bert Deivert on mandolin and dobro, Libby Rae selects some of the country blues classics she grew up with in Pascagoula, Mississippi, many of which must have rubbed off from her mentor, the late Sam Chatmon of the Mississippi Sheiks fame. “That’s Alright” and “Ashtray Taxi” are both delivered in the distinctive style of Chatmon, who died at the beginning of the 1980s and whose headstone was allegedly paid for by Bonnie Raitt. She Shimmy is actually dedicated to Chatmon, and features some top flight guest appearances, including Eric Bibb and Charlie Musselwhite.
Choice Track: Ashtray Taxi (NSV 503)