Patuxent CD-022 Franklin, Harp & Usilton - Hokum Blues
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A real treasure from 1993, originally released on cassette, now revived for your merrymaking pleasure! The unbridled Washington, D.C. area ensemble Franklin, Harpe & Usilton set the acoustic blues and ragtime ablaze with their fun and exciting Hokum Blues. The Hokum blues are sly, drenched in mischief and sexual innuendo, good-time music with a strong dose of tongue-in-cheek street wit. Listen carefully to the words. It’s music with a story, just a little but funny, sometimes a little sad and even a little scary, but always deep. The fiery trio of Franklin, Harpe and Usilton swings like mad on this reissue packed with Piedmont and ragtime classics – old time acoustic blues of the 1930s. The revivalists trio made the classic old blues cool again – rough-hewn, edgy and raucous, focused on the exuberance of the song. Don’t let the clever songs distract you from the superb instrumentation. Both Rick Franklin and Neil Harpe are excellent alternating bass fingerpicking guitarists with the prowess to honor the best players of the golden era, covered here with virtuosic perfection. All that while keeping it loose and joyful.
This jolly trio of Franklin, Harpe & Usilton have managed to capture the gritty energy and the wild swinging punch of this roots music. Each of them are now aptly doing their own musical thing, but together they were the finest representatives of the culturally rich Maryland, Virginia, DC region. This fierce reissue proves it unequivocally.
Contributing writer to Living Blues magazine. Publisher of thecountyblues.com. Co-author with Phil Wiggins of Sweet Bitter Blues – Washington DC’s Homemade Blues