Richard Ray Farrell | Acoustic Roots

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Blues: Acoustic Blues Blues: Delta Style Moods: Featuring Guitar
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Acoustic Roots

by Richard Ray Farrell

Solo acoustic Ragtime & Delta Blues from the 1920's and 1930's
Genre: Blues: Acoustic Blues
Release Date: 

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1. Diggin My Potatoes
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4:08 $0.99
2. I Want You To Know
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2:03 $0.99
3. One Dime Blues
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2:45 $0.99
4. Shake Em On Down
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4:13 $0.99
5. Ella Speed
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2:12 $0.99
6. Sassy Mae
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2:33 $0.99
7. Lonely Widower
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2:59 $0.99
8. Mean Mistreater
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3:37 $0.99
9. Buck Dancer's Choice
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2:46 $0.99
10. Jivin' Woman Blues
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1:43 $0.99
11. Poor Boy
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3:35 $0.99
12. Rope Stretchin' Blues
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4:05 $0.99
13. Fixin' To Die
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4:39 $0.99
14. Louis Collins
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2:02 $0.99
15. Jinx Blues
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5:04 $0.99
16. Let's Get Drunk Again
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2:03 $0.99
17. John Henry
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18. Too Many Drivers
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19. Blues-Flamenco
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ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
Acoustic Roots
Blue Beet (2005) 100002

19 tracks, 59 minutes. Recommended. Although Richard Ray Farrell is surely a 21st century blues artist, his stellar approach to music has an unquestionable ability to carry listeners back decades in time, and wrapping your ears around his new Acoustic Roots CD may well have you lost in a time warp. Recorded completely live in the studio without overdubs, Farrell tackles a full slate of country blues gems with nothing more than an acoustic guitar, a racked harmonica, and a voice that sounds as tough and coarse as a Mississippi dirt road in July. Whether he's channelling Blind Lemon Jefferson in One Dime Blues, Leadbelly in Ella Speed, or Blind Blake in Rope Stretchin' Blues, Farrell digs down to the basics of great blues with conviction and offers deft guitar work, scrappy harp interplay, and vocals that deliver lyrics in solid form be they poignant, potent, or playful. His slide work in Sassy Mae recalls the brilliantly ragged approach of Son House, and for the traditional Buck Dancer's Choice or his own Blues-Flamenco, the fingerpicking is stellar. Farrell shines just as brightly on Delta pieces associated with the masters; Bukka White's Fixin' To Die and Shake 'Em On Down, Son House's Jinx Blues, or the absolutely chilling version of Robert Curtis Smith's Lonely Widower, all standouts. He leaves few stones unturned with more from the catalogs of Mississippi John Hurt (Louis Collins), Smokey Hogg (a searing Too Many Drivers), Blind Boy Fuller (Jivin' Woman Blues), Bo Carter (Let's Get Drunk Again and I Want You To Know) and others. While times and technology have changed drastically over the years, Richard Ray Farrell seems to have stepped right out of the 1930s and into the present on Acoustic Roots, and never once sounds out of place. A crowning achievement and a winner from start to finish.

- Craig Ruskey


Reviews


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Bob Perry

An amazing collection of blues classics performed by a master
This collection was purchased for a friend in Germany and I knew nothing about the artist prior to receiving the disc. His guitar and harmonica work on this collection of blues classics is amazing. His voice has the appropriate blues edge - like fog rolling in off the Mississippi. The album is a must for all who love the blues.

Blues Beat Magazine

Such superb artistry should be recognized and appreciated
Richard Ray Farrell "Acoustic Roots" - Talented bluesman Richard Farrell is a native of Niagara Falls who lived for many years in Europe and has recently returned to the States. Although he's performed with many electric bands, his heart has always been in the acoustic blues, which he shares with us here. A generous collection of 19 tracks is included, featuring a number of different styles, all authentically and at times brilliantly performed. There's plenty of nifty finger picking and slide work, as well, demonstrating his accomplished mastery. I particularly liked his versions of Leroy Carr's "Mean Mistreater", Blind Blake's "Rope Stretchin' Blues",Son House's "Jinx Blues", and Mississippi John Hurt's "Louis Collins". Hopefully these dazzling performances will open a few doors for Richard in the tough acoustic solo market where appropiate venues are not easy to find. Such superb artistry should be recognized and appreciated. Rich Schneider (Blues Beat Magazine)

Blues Revue Magazine

A powerful singer with an unaffected style
Richard Ray Farrell "Acoustic Roots" - It's strictly traditional program is composed of prewar blues from Blind Blake, Son House, John Hurt, Blind Boy Fuller, Leadbelly, Blind Lemon Jefferson, and others, with a few postwar anomilies. A powerful singer with an unaffected style, Farrell plays fleet, precise guitar, simultaneously blowing harp. His potent take on Bukka White's "Shake 'Em On Down" and slide-driven version of Memphis Slim's "Sassie Mae," along with good-time readings of Bo Carter songs, show he's equally adept at Piedmont and Delta styles. Acoustic Roots (Blue Beet 100002) is a winner. Tom Hyslop (Blues Revue)

Steve Landy

Richard Ray Farrell: Acoustic Roots
It's hot in Georgia right now. The sun wakes and bakes the asphalt until the late afternoon when the thunderstorms roll in, turning up the humidity so much the shirt sticks to your back.
A fitting time to sit back on the porch and reach for this new release from blues journeyman Richard Ray Farrell. Anyone familiar with Richard Ray's previous outing on "Bohemian Life" will find no comparisons here, as this is a testament to the old from the relatively new. Nineteen tracks totaling nearly an hour of music provide a fitting tribute to some of the fathers of the blues and a document that will satisfy even the most discerning blues purist.From the opening few bar's of Huddie Ledbetter's "Diggin' My Potatoes," it is clear that Farrell is no novice picker, laying down an impressive and intricate foundation to lay the vocals and harmonica over.
"I Want You To Know" and "One Dime Blues" start the momentum rolling but it's not until Bukka White's "Shake 'EM On Down" that you begin to really see how good Farrell is. At the time White's song was young, his life was in upheavel and he was serving time at Parchman Farm. Farrell's interpretation with jagged rhythms and snapping strings is a testament to White and his troubled past; this is blues driven from emotion and Farrell does well to convey it. "Ella Speed" another Ledbetter song and another triumph is well placed next to the rumble of "Shake 'Em On Down," this time the jangling guitar chasing the cheerful melody to the sadness of the lyrics. "Sassy Mae" and "Lonely Widower" play well of one and other, the first providing one of the better vocal performances on the disc and the later pushing the envelope with more powerful guitar.
Piedmont blues also gets a work out on Blind Boy Fuller's "Jivin' Woman Blues" which is simply outstanding, again Farrell in fine voice. Acoustic Roots was recorded live in the studio with no overdubs. The harmonica was recorded on the rack. This is the heart and soul of the album, it is as honest as it is raw, which is the only way this particular style of blues can be convincingly played. "Mean Mistreater" is a good example of this; resonating harmonica combined with standard guitar runs keep the message simple but the way it's delivered is powerful.
Other standouts include the traditional "Buck Dancer's Choice" which flows like a river, and "Poor Boy," again with the harmonica owning the song. Mississippi John Hurt's "Louis Collins" also stands out with Richard Ray softening the vocals and letting the guitar carry the melody before again letting the dogs loose on Son House's "Jinx Blues". Farrell's own instrumental "Blues-Flamenco" rounds out the album displaying his own writing skills considerably.
Richard Ray Farrell has been paying his dues for over thirty years and it is independent artists like him who give the blues a pulse. Take a listen for yourself, if you disagree and this record doesn't move you, then say hello to Louis Collins for me, because you are surely dead.
Steve Landy 8-17-05

Mick Rainsford

"One of the genre's most underrated performers"
Richard Ray Farrell's last CD, "Bohemian Life", was strictly in the electric tradition, with a strong Chicago feel; however on "Acoustic Roots" we find Farrell exploring the roots of his earliest blues influences with a series of well chosen covers from the likes of Blind Blake, Bukka White, Leadbelly et al. Accompanying himself on acoustic guitar and rack harp, Farrell's intimate vocal stylings, which at times remind me of Leon Redbone, are ideally suited to the country blues tradition, his robust vocals, laced with humour, bringing new life to numbers like "Diggin' My Potatoes" and the exuberant "Ella Speed".

Farrell's repertoire ranges from the sly humour and plaintive slide that permeates Memphis Slim's "Sassy Mae", through the percussive guitar and harp, and urgent vocals of "Poor Boy", to the melancholy "I Want You To Know" (Bo Carter) with it's wistful vocals and wonderful picking; all of which graces with an honesty and earthy beauty that indicates a natural ease and feel for traditional blues.

Like most true blues musicians, Farrell is no mere copyist, taking his influences and reinterpreting their music, adding his own personality to turn numbers like Bukka White's "Shake 'Em On Down" into a plaintive lament riding a compelling guitar riff, whilst "John Henry" becomes a fine downhome country harp instrumental. Smokey Hogg's "Too Many Drivers" is an intense performance, laced with menace, riding a compelling guitar riff; Son House's "Jinx Blues" is played in Muddy's early Plantation style, replete with House influences, with raw anguished vocals and intense slide; whilst "Mean Mistreater" captures the plaintiveness inherent in Leroy Carr's blues, enhanced by Farrell's moaning high register harp.

Despite the fact that there is only one original on this set, Farrell's obvious love for, sympathy with and command of traditional country blues ensures that this set is a delight from first track to last.
Mick Rainsford "Blues in Britain" Magazine

Bennett Harris

Masterful playing and singing
RR Farrell plays old-timie acoustic blues with great mastery and authority. He sounds like a genuine pre-WWll Southern sharecropper, but with more attention to accurate guitar-craft than your typical mule driver from Mississippi. Very few contemporary guitarists can render this nearly-lost American style of fingerpicking with such skill and grace, and the CD benefits by wonderful clean recording technology. The song selection is diverse, and Farrell's harmonica playing is a treat as well.

jeff harris

superbly played set of traditional blues
Richard Ray Farrell: Acoustic Roots (Blue Beet)

While electric rock blues still reigns supreme thankfully there's still a few diehards who are devoted to keeping the country blues tradition of the 1920's and 1930's alive and kicking. The better practitioners include veterans like John Hammond, Larry Johnson and Paul Geremia and fine young players like Guy Davis, Corey Harris and Alvin Youngblood Hart. Add to the short list Richard Ray Farrell whose "Acoustic Roots" finds him digging deep into a superbly played set of traditional blues.
Farrell is not exactly a household name as he's been living in Europe since the 70's and only moved back to the States in 2001. He started as a street musician or "busker" eventually working his way to more prestigious gigs touring with the likes of Lazy Lester, Big Jack Johnson, Big Boy Henry, Louisiana Red, Frank Frost, and R.L.Burnside. Farrell has obviously lerned his lessons well and has a real feel for the subtleties and nuances of the country blues he so obviously loves.
"Acoustic Roots", recorded live and with no overdubs, is all Farrell as he plays guitar, rack harmonica and takes all the vocals as he covers the songs of Bo Carter, Son House, Blind Boy Fuller, Bukka White, Leroy Carr and others. Farrell plays with grit and conviction as he tackles fine material like Bo Carter's sly "I Want You To Know" with it's gently raggy feel and deft fingerpicking, delivers a heartfelt but rather jaunty version of Blind Lemon's classic "One Dime Blues", plays some superb guitar on Smokey Hogg's "Too Many Drivers" and takes it down to the Delta for a slide soaked rendition of Son House's dark and brooding "Jinx Blues". Other high points include a sensitive reading of Leroy Carr's oft covered "Mean Mistreater" featuring some good harp work and goes back to the always entertaining Bo Carter on the humorous risque blues of "Let's Get Drunk Again".
Richard Ray Farrell has a real feel for the great country blues tradition, breathing new life into these timeless songs and hopefully turning on a new generation to the power and beauty of those old time blues. Fans of traditional blues would do well to check out "Acoustic Roots"
Jeff Harris (www.baddogblues.com)