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Sammy Blue - Live at the Blue Note West

Hottrax Records

17 tracks 59 minutes

Samuel R Favers is Sammy Blue. Here – although he does often work with a band – he is doing his solo acoustic thang, and performing live in the Blue Note West Club in Douglasville, GA just outside Atlanta GA, the city which Sammy Blue gives as his home.

There is no doubt that Mr Blue is an accomplished solo performer with a solid yet sensitive approach to delivering acoustic guitar-based blues. All of the songs here were penned by Mr Blue, but be warned, some of the 17 tracks are little but spoken introductions to the music that follows. One of them, labelled Plastic Surgery, Slide Guitar Players And A Big Lie takes up more than 4 mins of the playing time. Another ‘introduction’, This Happened One Night At The Club, takes up more than 6 mins. Now clearly, including intros in the CD presentation does make sense if you want to document a full performance, the problem is that in this recording, the audience was singularly uninspiring (and uninspired?) remaining remarkably quiet with little interaction, laughter or banter. In short, although the music is excellent, the ambience of the club sounds pretty dire.

The music ranges from an instrumental called Salem’s Song, which remind me a lot of Mississippi John Hurt’s, Stackolee, through to the title track of Sammy’s last CD Everythang & Mo’ which includes some fun trombone playing courtesy of Little Joe Burton, who is the MC for the club, and who demonstrates some remarkable triple tongue work, a technique that must make him the envy of … well some people.

The Big Lie referred to in the introduction mentioned above is that delivered by many professional musicians to their ladies, “Honey I’ll get a day job for you”. The song Day Job (which also comes with some trombone) is a delightful, off-beat accented piece delivered with accomplished slide work.

Walking Woman Blues is a super song with a Chicago shuffle vibe and great lyrics. “I can tell by the way you walk daddy must have been a millionaire”. Here Mr Blue sounds more reminiscent of Robert Lockwood (all the pictures on the CD show a Dobro and a regular acoustic guitar, but here and elsewhere his instrument sounds more like the 12 string used by Lockwood in his latter years).

One mystery is that the CD cover describes Sammy Blue as “Crown Prince of Piedmont Blues”, well that’s true if you mean that he lives in and hails from the southern end of the Piedmont plateau. But don’t expect him to SOUND like Blind Blake or Blind Boy Fuller or even Brownie McGhee. No alternating thumb here just steady and hypnotic four to the bar, single note bass. Wonderful!

Review Ian McKenzie lives in England. He is the editor of Blues In The South ( a monthly flier providing news, reviews, a gig guide and all kinds of other good stuff, for people living and going to gigs along the south coast of England. Ian is also a blues performer (see and has a web cast regular blues radio show on www.phonic.FM in Exeter (Wednesdays: 1pm Eastern/ 12 noon Central, 10am Pacific).

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