Honeybee Blues tells the story of the world’s disappearing honeybees and the efforts of Australian scientist Dr Denis Anderson to save them from annihilation. From the native bush and orchards of Australia to the industrial farmlands of the United States and the highlands of Papua New Guinea, Honeybee Blues is a scientific detective story that tells a 21st century cautionary tale.
Blues With a Message isn't just about lost love and the toils of specific lives, the blues (particularly within the folk-blues traditions) spent some time dealing with sociopolitical issues on the side, primarily before the rise of electric blues. Here, Arhoolie has compiled a set of pieces related to a surprisingly large number of issues. Among them: Minstrel shows, the mechanization of cotton farming, and its related exodus to the North, sharecropping, segregation, the Korean War, the influenza epidemic, the New Deal, civil rights movements, Chicago employment opportunities – all are given a song or two here. The music quality is roughly equivalent to many of the folk-blues recordings available, though the "big name" artists are largely absent from this one (Lightnin Hopkins does make an appearance singing about sharecropping, however). The songs are deliberately focused on the issues more than the music, but the music can still carry its soul. This one probably won't be on many highest-sales lists in the blues, but it's both historically important and musically enjoyable.
This is a good collection of piano-accompanied vocals sporting bluesmen who worked the lumber camps and oil fields of rural Texas, as well as the red-light districts of cities like Galveston and Houston. Big Boy Knox shows a strong city influence in his decorative right-hand work, as does Robert Cooper, whose playing points to the influence of Fats Waller. Joe Pullem is on board with his hit, "Black Gal," which is perhaps overstated by three takes and a variation. The vocals are good, however, and the piano playing is uniformly excellent. Stylistically, this music falls somewhere between ragtime, blues, and vaudeville.
Dutchman's gravel voice is the dominant presence on these original songs from four consummate blues musicians. The first thing that hits you when you listen to this band is The Dutchman’s voice. Any description would have to include the word gravel. He also plays harmonica but the next thing that will jump out at you is the lead guitar work. Locals are still perplexed as to why a blues performer putting together a blues band would turn to an international punk-rocker famous for lighting guitars on fire to work with. Matt Roman still brings the heat with his own unique style. The result is a symbiotic team that is both energetic and entertaining…