Richard Ray Farrell & Steve Guyger
“Down Home Old School Country Blues”
“Old Fashions please me best.”
-Bianca in Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew
Depending on the musical genre, the term “old school” means different
things to different people. To the aficionado of acoustic blues, it generally refers
to the heyday of unamplified country blues between 1920 and 1960. The pantheon
of influential blues artists from this period has cast a long shadow. The 16 covers
herein showcase the diversity of this enduring genre. Contemporary duos like Santa Barbara’s Tom Ball & Kenny Sultan, Virginia’s John Cephas & Phil Wiggins, and
Boston’s Paul Rishell & Annie Raines, all cast in the mold of legendary country blues torchbearers Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee, have performed and recorded this style of blues with substantial success for several decades.
The Bucks County, PA based tandem of guitarist Richard Ray Farrell and harpist Steve Guyger, with a combined 65 years of performance experience and several critically acclaimed albums each, can now take their place with the aforementioned dynamic duos with this labor of love. There are so many surprises here as only five tunes on this old school musical classroom are familiar standards
(John Lee Williamson’s, a.k.a. Sonny Boy I, “Good Mornin’ Little Schoolgirl” and
“Early in the Morning,” Big Joe Williams’, “Baby Please Don’t Go,” Tommy Johnson’s “Big Road Blues,” and Robert Lockwood’s “That’s Alright”).
It takes veteran virtuosos like Farrell & Guyger to render this timeless music true to the spirit of its progenitors while keeping it fresh and personal with deft, fervid picking, fluid, wailing harmonica and unpretentious vocals. By doing so they maintain its sparse, soulful simplicity, pristine minimalism, and, most importantly, its emotional urgency. In this age of synthetic everything, savor the unadulterated real deal of Down Home Old School Country Blues.
Thomas J. Cullen III
Bucks County Blues Society President, Senior Writer Blues Revue, Blues & Soul Agitator