Thursday, May 07, 2015

Jack Owens and Bud Spires - It Must Have Been the Devil

Per the liner notes by David Evans, the man who recorded Jack and Bud, this recording came about purely by happenstance and luck. Evans had interviewed Skip James about music in his hometown of Bentonia, Mississippi and James recommended Cornelius Bright, who introduced Evans to Owens. This is quite fitting as Owens' style, musically (he even uses the same open Em tuning), lyrically and vocally, is very similar to Skip's, owing to local traditions and songs. Evans claims that Owens is an even better player and singer than James, and while that is hard to say, if you put this CD on, most listeners would think that it was Skip.

There are a couple of differences, of course - Jack owned his own juke joint, where he would regularly play, and so he was tangentially more interested in rhythm for dancing (though that is not always apparently in these selections) and Owens would regularly work with harmonica player Benjamin "Bud" Spires. Spires would be more of a rhythm man than a lead player, letting Owens handle that duty, but he does work around the guitar and vocal melodies and adds a nice touch to everything.

Some of the selections are songs that James played, as well, adding more similarities (even though the arrangements do differ), but there are some more well known numbers such as "Good Morning, Little Schoolgirl".

This is another CD that I chanced upon and got at a discount rate and I'm certainly glad that I did. Excellent country blues by a generally unknown master. Well worth the search!