Title: 50 Years of Como Ms Blues (Greatest Blues Songs, Vol. 1)
Formats: CD, Digital
Release date: September 25, 2019
The hill country around Como, Mississippi produced several significant country blues artists. Less than an hour south of Memphis, the relatively isolated region also gave birth to a unique blues style that was distinct from the more popular Delta blues tradition. This new compilation from Wolf Records includes both well-known and lesser-known artists from Como, including Fred McDowell, Jessie Mae Hemphill, Eli Green, Ranie Burnette and Othar Turner—all born between 1901-1923. R.L. Boyce, the last living bluesman in Como and Othar Turner’s nephew, represents the younger generation.
Many of the tracks on this anthology have never been released and were recorded by producer Hannes Folterbauer in the homes of the musicians during his trips to Como in 1975, 1991, and 2017. The exception are the tracks featuring Fred McDowell and Eli Green, which were all originally issued on the Smithsonian Folkways album You Gotta Move (1989).
50 Years of Como Ms Blues is a fine introduction to the hill country style within a narrow geographical region, tracing the lineage of performance practices from one generation to the next. Biographies of each musician and discographic details are provided in the liner notes.
Reviewed by Brenda Nelson-Strauss