“Mississippi” Fred McDowell was a legendary bluesman, and the master of the slide or “bottleneck” style. Extremely popular in his lifetime, Fred McDowell became a hero to blues enthusiasts worldwide, and his popularity has ballooned posthumously. No one has ever paralleled McDowell’s skill or style, as he used his bottleneck on the high strings to create a melody while constantly thrashing the open low strings to create a driving rhythm.
This release, the first from Devil Down Records, provides never before heard recordings of McDowell, and also include his wife Annie Mae, friend Napoleon Strickland (a legendary blues harmonica and fife player in his own right), and another unidentified musician. These recordings are different from any other of Fred McDowell due to their very nature: rather than conducted with the production of a record in mind, the recordings were made casually over the course of a night. McDowell is here heard at his best, relaxed and energetic, performing many of his most famous songs as well as songs never before recorded. With McDowell's foot tapping on the hardwood floor and laughter in the background, “Come and Found You Gone” brings listeners into that night in August, 1967, immersing us in the world of the blues house party, and guiding us through the night as it unfolded.
The record begins with Fred McDowell performing solo, including some of his most noted songs, “Big Fat Mama, Meat Shakin’ On Her Bone,” and “Shake ‘Em On Down,” as well as previously unreleased songs such as “Find My Suitcase.” Napoleon Strickland and an unidentified musician join Fred McDowell for the next portion of the night, with the never before heard song “Dream I Went to the U.N.,” in which the unidentified musician sings about the Cuban missile crisis, the conflict with the former Soviet Union, and even declares that he would “..put a few soul brothers” in the White House, such as “Ray Charles and Lightnin’ Hopkins, Jimmy Reed, Bo Diddley and Big Maybelle, all I need..”
Fred and Annie Mae McDowell sing hymns for the last five songs on the record, including their most widely recognized song, “Death Came In,” and the previously unreleased “Come and Found You Gone,” a six-and-a-half minute medley and tour de force of the McDowells' combined musicianship.
As if the music were not enough, the record includes an interview with Dr. William Ferris, the world renowned blues scholar who made these recordings, and liner notes by Dr. Ferris, Luther Dickinson of the North Mississippi Allstars, and eminent French blues scholar Vincent Joos. Among these liner notes are eight award winning photographs by Dr. Ferris from the Otha Turner picnic in 1970, snapshots from the world Fred McDowell lived and breathed in.
Luther Dickinson’s description of the music of “Come and Found You Gone” explains it all, when he says that "Fred McDowell’s music is the sound of the hills. It voices the history and culture of this land and its people. In my world, he is the king of the North Mississippi Hill Country music scene. He Influenced and inspired R.L. Burnside, Junior Kimbrough, Kenny Brown and countless others. He was a folk hero, a living legend among his peers.”