Hans Theessink "Songs from the Southland"
2003, Blue Groove BG-0061, produced by Hans Theessink
"Songs from the Southland" goes back to the roots and is basically a solo acoustic album enhanced with the help of some musical friends: Vocals by Linda Tillery & The Cultural Heritage Choir, double bass by Danny Thompson and tuba by Jon Sass.
I love handmade roots music of any sort and I'm especially taken and touched by the rich sounds that originated in the southern states of the US. The sounds and songs from the Southland have been a constant source of inspiration for me since I first picked up the guitar some forty years ago after hearing Big Bill Broonzy on radio Luxemburg. Most of the songs on this album have been my companions on stages around the world for quite some time and I still perform them a lot. Enjoy, Hans Theessink.
In 2004 "Songs from the Southland" wan the Austrian Amadeus award for best album in the catagory folk,blues,jazz.
------The Montreal Gazette, CAN, May 28th 2003
HANS THEESSINK Songs From The Southland, Blue Groove
Hans Theessink, a Dutch-born Austrian resident, has so thoroughly absorbed the traditions of the blues that he has, over three decades, become one of the music's most accomplished revivalists. On this acoustic masterpiece, Theessink offers stunning interpretations of classic Delta blues like From Four Till Late, swinging versions of tunes like Hesitation Blues and a haunting take on I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry that reveals the country song's blues roots. Several songs, including a delightful Green Green Rocky Road, are respectful nods to the late Dave Van Ronk. Theessink sings the blues like he was born to them, his guitar, banjo and mandolin playing is excellent and the arrangements, variously featuring bassist Danny Thompson, tuba player Jon Sass and vocalists from Linda Tillery's Cultural Heritage Choir, are outstanding. ***** (Mike Regenstreif)
--------Blues Revue (USA) October/November 2003
Hans Theessink: "Songs from the Southland"Blue Groove BG-0061
My knowledge of Dutch explorers is limited to Abel Tasman and van Diemen, but I've made a discovery of my own in Dutch blues guitarist, singer, and songwriter Hans Theessink. A student of the works of Big Bill Broonzy, Brownie McGhee, and others, he has evolved beyond the role of "revivalist" by taking his inspiration into the realm of re-interpretation, injecting Delta blues with a vibrance and energy that serves the masters well. In so doing, he does more than keep the blues flame burning: he pours gasoline all over it.
A veteran of 20 recordings with a schedule of some 200 dates a year, Theessink has released Songs from the Southland , a salute to the traditional songs he's performed onstage for the past 40 years. The songs you know: "St.James Infirmary," Leadbelly's "My Girl," Fred McDowell's "61 Highway," and the Rev.Gary Davis' "Hesitation Blues." What you haven't heard are Theessink's dramatic arrangements, which highlights his talent on slide and bottleneck guitar, combined with Danny Thompson's double bass and Jon Sass' tuba. And Linda Tillery's heavenly Cultural Heritage Choir raises many compositions to the hills and beyond.
With a deep, resonant voice blending Chris Rea and Chris Smither, Theessink exposes the blues nerve in country tunes such as Hank Williams' "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" and folkish fare such as "He Was A Friend Of Mine," and bites into hardcore blues such as Skip James' "Hard Time Killing Floor." "Hesitation Blues" gets a robust treatment with banjo and tuba, illustrating his passion for New Orleans-style jazz. His own "Rained Five Days," with its ability to quickly establish a raw emotional connection, fits in seamlessly. Fans of Chris Smither and, particularly Dave Van Ronk will find countless pleasures.
Blues remains a feeling, whether you live in Mississippi or Amsterdam. Theessink drives beyond the familiar to discover new territory, applying his skills to the task of enhancing timehonored material. In his way, he brings the world of blues a little closer together. (Eric Thom)
------Long Island Blues Society News, August 2003
Hans Theessink: "Songs from the Southland"Blue Groove BG-0061
Hans Theessink, Dutch born and now a Viennese burgermeister is an international blues treasure. He is one of the world's pre-eminent country pickers and his warm baritone expresses blues. Hans does this not as a curiosity or just as a copy of his predecessors but as living, breathing Delta man himself. He takes great songs and builds on the groove in a calm, deep voice filled with the gravitas of deep blue. Mostly solo, Hans is joined on a few by Jon Sass' rocking tuba and a perkily effervescent choir. Theessink can pull out the stops on a barn burning version of "Mercury Blues" or weep like Hank on "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry." Hans' guitar is clear, like a bell, throughout. Excellent recording captured every nuance and pick or slide while his singing is like he's alone in a room with you sometimes and other times like he's wailing in a crowded saloon. The choice of material celebrates the Southern blues canon including Robert Johnson, Leadbelly, Skip James, MS Fred McDowell, Revered Gary Davis and MS John Hurt as well as the range of human emotion and experience from joy to despair, high times and hard time. It may be that there is a different perspective from a man born 3000 miles away but these blues swing, soar and challenge you to find them done any better. 8.5 snaves (Dr.Blues - Long Island Blues Society News, August 2003)
------Dirty Linen (USA) October/November 03 #108
Hans Theessink: "Songs from the Southland"Blue Groove BG-0061
With his 15th album, Songs from the Southland, Dutch multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Hans Theessink continues to build on the blues traditions of the American South. Accompanying himself on guitar, banjo and mandolin, and joined by double bassist Danny Thompson and tuba player Jon Sass, Theessink offers a wide view of the region's music. While he pays homage to the blues masters with renditions of tunes learned from recordings by Leadbelly, Robert Johnson, Mississippi Fred McDowell, Skip James, Rev.Gary Davis, and Mississippi John Hurt, he demonstrates the blues' continued influence with songs by Hank Williams and John Fogerty. Vocal harmonies by Linda Tillery and her Cultural Heritage Choir make this a truly celebratory recording. (CH)
------SING OUT (USA) Fall 2003; Volume 47, Number 3
"HANS THEESSINK Songs from the Southland Blue Groove 0061"
Hans Theessink, the Dutch-born and Austrian-based singer and guitarist, has long been one of our finest blues revivalists. His latest, Songs from the Southland, is one of the best albums of traditional, acoustic blues that I've heard from anyone in years.
Some tracks are Theessink solo while others feature creative accompaniment from bass player Danny Thompson or tuba player Jon Sass, with Linda Tillery and the Cultural Heritage Choir supplying soulful backing vocals.
The set begins with an extended version of "St.James Infirmary" that includes a wonderful guitar solo wittily quoting "Greensleeves". The notes of the latter have never sounded so blue. Throughout the rest of the album, there are lots of inspired twists and turns. A happy take on "Green Green Rocky Road" is propelled by Sass' tuba blowing the bass line, Theessink picking out the melody on both banjo and guitar and Tillery and company's harmonies. It's preceded by a sweet version of "He Was a Friend of Mine." Taken together, these two songs strike me as an affectionate hommage to the late Dave van Ronk.
Every other song in the set is a highlight including a blues adaptation of Hank Williams' "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" that is simpy spine tingling. Plus, there's a driving, solo rendition of "Mercury Blues" that rocks and rolls with all the energy of a full band and a swinging, ragtime arrangement of "Frankie and Albert" that has Theessink doubling on guitar and mandolin.
In addition to the classic material, Theessink also includes a couple of contemporary songs. John Fogerty's "A Hundred an Ten in the Shade," conjures the Delta on a hot summer day while his own "Rained Five Days" is a fine addition to the list of blues ballads describing floodin on the Mississippi River. Excellent. (MR)
------Blues In Britain / Hans Theessink: "Songs from the Southland"Blue Groove BG-0061
Hans Theessink is a veteran of the European blues scene who has released a succession of fine recordings over his long career, “Songs From The Southland” being no exception.
As the title suggests, this is Theessink’s way of paying tribute to the songs and artists who have inspired him over the years, each song lovingly recreated with his own personal touch.
The set opens with “St James Infirmary”, a haunting performance laced with pathos, which at times exudes a lilting “Greensleeves” feel; followed by a Leadbelly tribute on “My Girl”, a compelling blend of blues and spirituals with poignant slide and harp, and “heavenly” vocal retorts from the backing singers led by the magnificent Linda Tillery. John Fogerty’s “A Hundred And Ten In The Shade” is a brooding performance enhanced by Danny Thompson and Jon Sass’s double bass and tuba respectively, the toil and resignation in Theessink’s vocals almost palpable. “Hard Time Killing Floor” is a mesmerising performance given a spiritual feel by Linda Tillery et al, who also enhance the bouncy spiritual “Green Green Rocky Road” which is fired by fine banjo and tuba.
The brooding and morose intensity of Fred McDowells’s “61 Highway”, the earthy beauty of “From Four Til Late”, and the raggy boogie “Mercury Blues” are further highlights of a set that belongs in the collection of every lover of acoustic blues. (Mick Rainsford)
He may come from northern Europe, but HANS THEESINK's heart - musically - belongs in the "Deep South" of the USA. He's deep-voiced & a deft guitarist, but more important is his real feeling for this music. He's a fine songsmith, but Hans' new CD, 'SONGS FROM THE SOUTHLAND', is mostly a set of respectful, new versions of great, old songs. It's spare & intimate, but has room for some occasional, luscious contributions from DANNY THOMPSON's double bass, JON SASS's tuba & five female gospel voices.
Along with the expected covers of old songs made famous by the likes of Skip James, Leadbelly, John Hurt & Fred McDowell, is a wonderfully sultry rendition of a late 20th-century song - John Fogerty's "A Hundred and Ten in the Shade"
------Nightflying, USA, 2004
SONGS FROM THE SOUTHLAND -Hans Theessink, Blue Groove
Now you got somebody close to MY heart. I first heard this guy about ten years ago. He was young, obviously infatuated with Southern country blues musicians, and willing to put in the time and effort to at least approximate, if not imitate, his idols: Big Bill Broonzy, Robert Johnson, et al. As it turns out, Hans is not just a Eurotrash joke, a fluke, or just a hippie with painted fingernails. He’s still offering homage to the same roots, true to his commitment, and more mature, with more and better resources.. It’s an honor to the Delta blues and gospel tradition to have someone with Theessink’s experience demonstrating his sincere, humble, and grateful virtuosity. Thank you, Hans
------Blues in Britain, Volume 1 / issue 20
Hans Theessink - Songs From The Southland (Blue Groove BG-0061)
The first time I saw Vienna-based Dutchman Theessink perform was at the first Burnley Blues Festival back in 1989 and I have watched his career with interest ever since. Since 1989 he has travelled widely throughout the world, including many tours to the USA and the UK, with a string of much respected recordings. This is, as always, a beautifully packaged disc and dedicated to the memory of the folklorist Alan Lomax (1915-2002) with a selection of fourteen titles including one original.
I always enjoy Theessink’s choice of material and a number of his favourite musicians are included here with material from, among others, Skip James, Leadbelly, Rev.Gary Davis, Hank Williams and, of course, Robert Johnson. There is a delicious choir backing on John Fogerty’s “A Hundred And Ten In The Shade” and there is some tasty slow paced slide on National guitar on Johnson’s classic “From Four Till Late.
I am particularly fascinated by material from the guitar master Rev.Gary Davis and on his “Hesitation Blues” Theessink has added tuba from Jon Sass, and banjo to great effect. It is always good to hear any songs from Mississippi Fred McDowell and here Theessink gives “61 Highway” an original slant which is very much his own.
The vocals are rich and distinctive, and some subtle double bass from Danny Thompson adds class, making this a very enjoyable and entertaining set. Theessink is a sincere and committed musician who loves very much the music he plays and long may it continue. Rating 9 – Bob Tilling (Blues in Britain, Volume 1 / issue 20)
------The New Zealand Herald 03.05.2003 by GRAHAM REID
Hans Theessink: Songs from the Southland, Blue Groove
Nope, not Otago goldfield ballads - but acoustic Southern blues from the dark-voiced Austrian inspired by Mississippi John Hurt, Leadbelly and Robert Johnson.
No imitator, he takes John Fogerty's 110 in the Shade back to its origins in a humid, fly-buzzin' cottonfield, St James Infirmary includes a discreet melodic reference to Greensleeves, he comfortably includes Hank Williams' I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry alongside his own Rained Five Days, and everywhere treats the material with heart and understanding. If deft and deep acoustic blues is your thing, look no further. (Herald rating: * * * *)
-----5.0 out of 5 stars Wow, Blues From Far Away, But The Real Deal
I never meant to be a chauvinist, but I thought you had to be American to play great blues. Boy was I ever wrong. Hans Theessink is the real deal, despite being Dutch. His blues is exactly what the blues is supposed to sound like: full of heart and sadness. On this album he does a number of traditional blues songs including a tremendous St. James Infirmary, a melancholic song which has never been done better, despite being covered by Louis Armstrong, Dr. John, Doc Watson, Lou Rawls, Dave Van Ronk and many more.
Theessink, whose Dutch accent is almost undetectable, does versions of "My Girl" (Leadbelly), John Fogerty's "One Hundred and Ten in the Shade", some Robert Johnson, Skip James, and etc. Real blues, often done with solo acoustic guitar accompaniment, and nothing but his deep, DEEP baritone. Beautiful album. Customer review on AMAZON