Steve Howell - My Mind Gets to Ramblin'
Out Of The Past LLC
Steve Howell is an accomplished, finger picking style, acoustic guitar player with very strong vocals. Primarily doing 1920s, 30's, and 40's songs on this, his second album, he features 13 cover songs with Joe, Darren, and David Osborn, Jim Caskey, and Denise Spohn. Howell claims he plays, and has played, several styles but, he has played and studied Country Blues for around 35 years now. Influenced by many, but naming Blind Lemon Jefferson, Blind Willie Johnson, Mississippi Fred McDowell, and John Hurt, he covers songs written by Muddy Waters , Memphis Minnie, Robert Johnson, Mississippi Fred McDowell and more. Howell has a combined sound of many guitar players, but over all, he reminded me on a few songs of Chet Atkins but with more of a nice folky blues tone. I was amazed by his effortless finger picking ability.
For this CD, Steve went back and dragged out some great names that I had either forgotten about or, in some cases, never heard of and did not know their history until I read his liner notes. For example, Bo Carter from The Mississippi Sheiks and half brother to Charley Patton wrote the #5 song, “Policy Blues.”
I used to love to read the big old L.P.s with all the information on them (there was a lot more room on an L.P.). Thank you Steve for cramming in what you were able to on a CD; it was great reading, informative, and interesting. Buy this CD to listen to some great front porch Country Blues, and you get a wealth of blues knowledge and a history lesson by reading the liner notes. What a deal!
Another example of interesting info is the #8 song, “Prodigal Son.” Steve says that credits on the1968 Rolling Stones album “Beggars Banquet” represented that this song was by Mick Jagger and Kieth Richards, but it was actually the work of Reverend Robert Wilkins. It was recorded in the Peabody Hotel in 1929 in Memphis as "That's No Way to Get Along." Later, after becoming an ordained minister, Wilkins recorded it as “Prodigal Son,” basing the lyrics on the parable from the Book of Luke.
Other standouts: the #13 song “Rowdy Blues,” also recorded in 1929 at the Peabody Hotel by Kid Bailey, contains a very unique story of a guy being out of love, back in love, then swearing off of love -- all in one song. “Steady Rollin’ Man” by Robert Johnson, has stupendous country slide guitar.
This is a nicely done cover album done by a very talented guitarist and his band. Steve Howell has opened for Country Joe & the Fish, Anson Funderburgh & The Rockets, Bugs Henderson, and shared the stage with Brownie Mc Gee.
This one is for the blues purist -- front porch Country Blues done the way it should be. I hope to see this guy in a small quaint club sometime soon. I will be playing this one in my current rotation quite often around the fire place this winter and this summer at the camp fire.
Steve comments that he hopes the listener hears the beauty and humor in these great old tunes and the love and the enthusiasm he and the band felt while making this recording. Steve, I sure did, and I think all the listeners will too!
Reviewer Tom "THE ENERGIZER” Schlesinger is a long time Blues fan who has been to a many Blues fests in the mid west, and Florida and is a Veteran on the Legendary Blues Cruise through the Caribbean.