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Acoustic Blues


Come Away with Me [Vinyl]

Come Away with Me [Vinyl] Lowest new price: $11.98
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Vinyl LP pressing. 2002 debut album from the Grammy-winning singer/songwriter. The album's critical and commercial success was a breakthrough for Jones in 2002, as it reached the top of the Billboard 200 chart and several jazz charts. The album also topped many critics' "albums of the year" lists and gathered major music awards in the process, including eight Grammy Awards. Following initial sales, Come Away with Me was certified diamond by the RIAA on February 15, 2005 having shipped over 10 million copies in its first three years of release.

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Keb Mo

Keb Mo Lowest new price: $3.47
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Every few years, an acoustic guitar player decides he wants to be the next Robert Johnson and endears himself to the blues world--Rory Block, John Hammond Jr., and Taj Mahal have crossed this road in the past. Veteran backup guitarist Kevin "Keb' Mo'" Moore has the freshest approach to pulling it off, turning Johnson's devil-obsessed classics "Come on in My Kitchen" and "Kindhearted Woman Blues" into friendly folk music on this 1994 debut. Unlike many of the great bluesmen, the personable Moore doesn't aspire to be evil or even rebellious; he writes terrific songs (most notably the opening "Every Morning" and "Dirty Low Down and Bad") and performs them with talent and charisma. --Steve Knopper

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10 Days Out: Blues from the Backroads

10 Days Out: Blues from the Backroads Lowest new price: $13.10
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Brand: Shepherd

Kenny Wayne Shepherd's reverence for his musical roots are center-stage on Ten Days Out...Blues From The Backroads, a CD+DVD package that features the guitarslinger and Double Trouble rhythm section of bassist Tommy Shannon and drummer Chris Layton performing with some of the greatest blues players of our time as well as lesser-known but historically significant bluesmen. Traveling to their hometowns to record everywhere from juke joints to front porches, from New Orleans to Kansas, Shepherd celebrates and becomes part of blues history with Ten Days Out...Blues From The Backroads.

This "back-to-the-roots" road-trip documentary CD/DVD from blues-rocking guitarist Kenny Wayne Shepherd can be viewed in two ways--it's either the culmination of a long-held desire to promote and play with some unheralded blues veterans before they pass away (as six had already done since the recording was made, 2½ years before its early 2007 release) or a way to regain the blues audience Shepherd all but alienated on his artistically and commercially disappointing 2004 hard-rock release, The Place You're In. Ultimately, it succeeds on both accounts. Regardless of the project's inspiration, the results by and large justify whatever the means might have been to get this show on the road--literally and figuratively. Shepherd hit the highway for a week and a half along with producer Jerry Harrison (ex-Talking Heads), a portable studio, and backup musicians including the rhythm section from Stevie Ray Vaughan's Double Trouble. He searched out blues artists both obscure (the late guitarist Etta Baker, who plays in her kitchen, is a highlight) and better known (Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown and B.B. King) for a series of acoustic and electric jams, all of which feature Shepherd--who, to his credit, generally keeps his hot-dogging tendencies in check. A closing concert featuring members of Howlin' Wolf and Muddy Waters' bands never quite generates the heat it should, but country bluesmen Cootie Stark, Neil Pattman, and harmonica ace Jerry "Boogie" McCain provide plenty of sparks. Shepherd seems sincere enough, but the real stars are the ageing musicians who have maintained their chops and intensity through a lifetime of performing music that clearly comes from the soul. --Hal Horowitz

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Original Delta Blues

Original Delta Blues Lowest new price: $2.95
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This album-a 1998 Rolling Stone Top 25 all-time blues title-features the guitar and vocal style that helped define Delta blues, generations before it moved north to Chicago. Includes Death Letter; Preachin' Blues; Levee Camp Moan; Downhearted Blues , and more of the most influential blues recordings ever made.

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Definitive Collection

Definitive Collection Lowest new price: $5.75
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One of the greatest blues musicians of all time, Muddy Waters is still pulling new fans into the blues today, more than two decades after his death. His visibility seems to increase, rather than fade, with the passing years, and though the Viagra commercial that used I'm Ready as its backing track made some blues purists wince, it nevertheless made its point. In 2002 author Robert Gordon published his definitive full-length biography of Muddy, called I Can't Be Satisfied (Little, Brown); the following year Gordon produced a documentary with the same title which aired on public television. Muddy's songs continue to be covered, not only by today's up and coming young blues bands, but by rock and pop artists as well, keeping his name and music before successive generations of fans.

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Astral Weeks [Vinyl]

Astral Weeks [Vinyl] Lowest new price: $19.70
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180 gram vinyl, original packaging.

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Anthology of American Folk Music (Edited by Harry Smith)

Anthology of American Folk Music (Edited by Harry Smith) Lowest new price: $62.70
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Brand: Unknown

Over 50 years after its original 1952 vinyl release, this is still the best American roots music collection around! Musicologist Harry Smith assembled the anthology from 78 rpm discs issued between 1927 and 1935. This 6-CD reissue was painstakingly researched, annotated and packaged to perfection. With 84 rare tracks, this one is a library all by itself! Includes Drunkard's Special Coley Jones; Peg and Awl Carolina Tar Heels; Frankie Mississippi John Hurt; Engine 143 Carter Family; Indian War Whoop Hoyt Ming & His Pep-Steppers; Newport Blues Cincinnati Jug Band; John the Revelator Blind Willie Johnson; Fifty Miles of Elbow Room Rev. F.W. McGee; Sugar Baby Dock Boggs; See That My Grave Is Kept Clean Blind Lemon Jefferson; The Lone Star Trail Ken Maynard, and many more!

This impressive--and frankly, fun--musical document is still sending out shock waves almost 50 years after its original 1952 vinyl release. The Smithsonian's six-CD reissue is painstakingly researched, annotated, and packaged (even boasting an enhanced disc for the techno-capable). Unlike field recorders, eccentric filmmaker/collector/musicologist Harry Smith assembled the Anthology from commercially released (though obscure) 78 rpm discs issued between 1927 and 1935. Its broad scope--from country blues to Cajun social music to Appalachian murder ballads--was monumentally influential, setting musicians like Bob Dylan down the path to folk fandom. The White House started its own national music library with the Anthology; anyone with more than a passing interest in American roots music should do the same. --Michael Ruby

More from Smithsonian Folkways

The Harry Smith Connection: A Live Tribute To The Anthology Of American Folk Music

Classic Maritime Music from Smithsonian Folkways Recordings

Smithsonian Folkways American Roots Collection

Classic Mountain Songs from Smithsonian Folkways

Classic Blues From Smithsonian Folkways

Folkways: The Original Vision

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Suitcase

Suitcase Lowest new price: $6.24
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Suitcase is the highly anticipated new studio album from three time Grammy award winning artist Keb' Mo. Produced by Keb' Mo and long time collaborator John Porter (B.B. King, Los Lonely Boys, Santana), Suitcase is Keb's first album of original music since 2004's Grammy winning release, Keep It Simple. Keb' Mo will be touring all summer and performing songs off of Suitcase on a nationwide tour with Bonnie Raitt.

The simple blues-informed pop charms of L.A. songwriter Kevin Moore remain unchanged on his eighth album. All twelve of these songs about romance and its triumphs and failures go down easy, thanks to his unhurried and unmannered singing, and arrangements that run slow and spare. That openness allows Moore's slide playing, perfected on the porch of Mississippi delta bluesman Eugene Powell, to add subtle, pretty decoration to tunes like "Your Love" and "Eileen." He's got a sympathetic cohort in John Porter, who also produced Moore's debut album and is especially adept at capturing the sounds of the acoustic instruments that dominate this disc. After pursuing all the twists and turns of love and its baggage on Suitcase, Moore ends the CD with "Life Is Beautiful," an ode to the pure and basic joys of life as a couple, reflected in a blithely primal trio accompaniment of crisp acoustic guitar, mandolin, and drums. --Ted Drozdowski

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Keep It Simple

Keep It Simple Lowest new price: $3.06
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"I can't even crack a frown since the blues slipped out of town," sings Keb' Mo' on "Prosperity Blues," with a patented big wide grin you can practically hear. It's a witty and accurate assessment of his approach to the often lowdown genre. Even on the album's title track, where Mo's tough National steel slide playing is most prominent, he's concerned with the daunting amount of coffee choices at his local java emporium. Call it the middle-class blues then, as Mo' wraps his grits-and-honey voice around another set of gently rolling, melodic, and warm compositions. Similar to, say, James Taylor, he spins beautifully crafted, meticulously produced, uncluttered roots-influenced music that is no less satisfying because of its smooth qualities. Traces of gospel, folk, and even bluegrass sprinkle these pop-oriented tunes, and while most of the edges here are sanded off--nobody will mistake him for Howlin' Wolf--Mo's cushy voice and charm create another winning entry in his catalog. Sophisticated and burnished, Keep It Simple goes down easy thanks to alluring songs that beckon you back like the memories of an old flame. --Hal Horowitz

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Martin Scorsese presents The Blues - A Musical Journey

Martin Scorsese presents The Blues - A Musical Journey Lowest new price: $74.98
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Brand: PBS

This 7 DVD set features rare archival performance footage of Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Willie Dixon, John Lee Hooker, Bo Diddley, Eric Clapton and many more. It also features newly filmed performances by contemporary artists singing classic blues songs

It may have been underrated when first broadcast on PBS on consecutive nights in the fall of '03, but executive producer Martin Scorsese's homage to the blues is a truly significant, if imperfect, achievement. "Musical journey" is an apt description, as Scorsese and the six other directors responsible for these seven approximately 90-minute films follow the blues--the foundation of jazz, soul, R&B, and rock & roll--from its African roots to its Mississippi Delta origins, up the river to Memphis and Chicago, then to New York, the United Kingdom, and beyond. Some of the films (like Wim Wenders's The Soul of a Man and Charles Burnett's Warming by the Devil's Fire) use extensive fictional film sequences, generally to good effect. There's also plenty of documentary footage, interviews, and contemporary studio performances recorded especially for these films.

The last are among the best aspects of the DVDs, as the bonus material features the set's only complete tunes. Lou Reed's "See That My Grave Is Kept Clean" and the ElektriK Mud Kats' (with Chuck D. of Public Enemy) hip-hop-cum-traditional updating of Muddy Waters's "Mannish Boy" are among the best of them; on the other hand, a rendition of "Cry Me a River" by Lulu (?!) is a curious choice, even with Jeff Beck on hand. The absence of lengthier vintage clips, meanwhile, is the principal drawback. For that reason alone, Clint Eastwood's Piano Blues is the best of the lot; a musician himself, Eastwood simply lets the players play, which means we get extensive file footage of the likes of Art Tatum, Oscar Peterson, and Nat "King" Cole, as well as new performances by Ray Charles, Dr. John, and others. Overall, this is a set to savor, a worthwhile investment guaranteed to grow on you over the course of repeated viewings. --Sam Graham

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