Grammy winning artist Alvin Youngblood Hart brought his blues & roots guitar sound to Tim Porter’s Porterhouse Music studio in Brailes, to wild appreciation to a select audience of musicians and local fans. This was the 3rd time that Hart had appeared in Brailes, once earlier with his band and more recently as a solo artist.
The event was sponsored by Hook Norton Brewery and they kindly donated a firkin of Hook Norton Lion, rebranded for the night as Hook Norton Lionhart!.
With his slide guitar and classic blues picking style on his Bigsby Gretsch guitar, along with his singing and occasional harmonica, he was a great example of the American blues.
Known as a “musician’s musician,” Alvin Youngblood Hart’s praises have been sung by everyone from Bob Dylan to Brit guitar gods Eric Clapton & Mick Taylor. Since the release of his 1996 debut recording, “BIG MAMA’S DOOR”, Hart has relayed his eclectic musical message around the world.
At the 1997 W.C. Handy Blues Awards, He received the award for Best New Artist, and also received two Living Blues Awards the same year.
In 2004, Hart received a Grammy for his philanthropic contribution to the compilation “BEAUTIFUL DREAMER: THE SONGS OF STEPHEN FOSTER”. All of the proceeds from the recording benefited American Roots Publishing, a nonprofit organisation dedicated to preserving American regional culture through literature and art.
Through the evening Hart gave the audience a select from his acclaimed songbook including some Skip James tunes he played on national TV for the “THE SOUL OF A MAN” a Film by Film Director Wim Wenders, as part of a group masterminded by Martin Scorsese.
During a passionate playing and singing of the song “Prophets Mission” one of his strings broke, so after a brief intermission to replace it he carried on to the end, to prolonged applause from the audience.
As we played through his selection of songs he gave the audience some background to some of his performances, including playing at ‘Leadbelly 125’ at the Kennedy Centre for performing Arts in Washington DC. Of the songs he wanted to sing he found that Robert Plant (Led Zeppelin) was going to sing a song that he had planned to he had to choice another.
Next up was a song written by Irish rocker Rory Gallagher (who was born the same day at Hart) called Jesse James and this version definitely had a great blues/roots feeling to it.
A lot of the songs hark back to the 1920/1930s era with artists such as Joe McCoy and Charley Patton. From a conversation in his youth with his Uncle, Hart realized that he had met and heard Charlie Patton in his prime, so Hart as a 17-year-old went to the local library to find out more and learned his song “Pony Blues” and he played this again to the audience.
Hart learned a lot from his family including his Great Granddad and he dedicated “Stop and Listen” to him.
He then played “City Lights” by Flamin Groovies (or at least one version as the band split up in multiple versions) playing his guitar, singing and playing on his harmonica.
To finish off he played a Booker White song about Jail.