Eric Clapton and B.B. King, Riding With the King (Duck/Reprise) — Long-awaited collaboration from the two blues and rock icons features five nuggets from King’s lengthy career, plus Big Bill Broonzy’s “Key to the Highway,” Sam and Dave’s soul classic “Hold On I’m Coming,” and two tunes from Doyle Bramhall II’s Jellycream album.
Cowboy Nation, A Journey Out of Time (Western Jubilee/Shanachie) — Brothers Chip and Tony Kinman — formerly of punk band the Dils and the roots-rock Rank & File, in which they played with Alejandro Escovedo — produce their second album of stripped-down, harmony-rich cowboy folk.
Judith Edelman, Drama Queen (Compass) — Americana/folk artist’s breathy soprano and thoughtful songs get sensitive bluegrass and folk settings with players such as fiddler Stu Duncan, mandolinist Matt Flinner and Darrell Scott and Tim O’Brien on harmonies.
Fathead, Where’s Your Head At? (Electrofi) — Blues-rock band’s last album for the label won Canada’s Juno Award for Best Blues Recording.
Big Gilson, Cab Driver Blues (Topcat) — Second solo outing from the Brazil-born, Johnny Winter-influenced guitarist, backed by Dallas’ “Blues Dynamite” rhythm section.
Kevin Gordon, Down to the Wall (Shanachie) — Roots-rocker’s second album was produced by Bo Ramsey, best known for his bluesy slide guitar work with Greg Brown.
Judy Henske, Loose in the World (Fair Star Music) — Reissue of 1998 album by the flamboyant ’60s folkie — the self-proclaimed “Queen of the Beatniks.”
Christine Lavin, The Bellevue Years (Philo/Rounder) — The irreverent Four Bitchin’ Babes co-founder and songwriter augmented previous recordings with live tracks made while she was working at Bellevue Hospital for this new release. Six songs were released in 1983 as the Husbands and Wives EP.
Lost Highway, Headin Down That Lost Highway (Hay Holler) — A minor legend in West Coast bluegrass circles, Lost Highway’s back playing trad ’grass after a decade off. Lineup includes irreverent fiddler Paul Shelasky, formerly of the Good Ol’ Persons String Band (the 1970s San Francisco group that also counted Kathy Kallick and Laurie Lewis among its alums).
Marlee MacLeod, Here We Are (Hayden’s Ferry) — First album from the bluesy Minneapolis artist for the Arizona-based label.
Bill Mallonee and the Vigilantes of Love, Audible Sigh (Compass) — Produced by Buddy Miller, whose Spyboy boss Emmylou Harris appears on the disc along with his wife and harmony/songwriting partner Julie Miller. Audible Sigh originally was recorded for the now-defunct Pioneer label and has heretofore only been available directly from the critically lauded band, whose specialty is intelligent, spiritually minded and socially conscious folk-rock.
Catriona MacDonald, Bold (Compass) — Celtic fiddler pays tribute to her heritage on debut album.
Michelle Malone, Lucky to Be Live (Koch) — Live album from folk-rock singer-songwriter was recorded in Atlanta’s Cotton Club in 1998. Brief song list includes the Rolling Stones’ “Wild Horses.”
Jake Matson, Comin’ Home (Storyville) — Behatted acoustic bluesman earns kudos for his passionate story songs and his way with a National steel guitar.
Jerry McCain, This Stuff Just Kills Me (WEA/Sire/Jericho) – Nice birthday present for the funny Alabama harmonica player/songwriter — he turns 70 a day or two before his latest release hits the streets. Titles include “Viagra Man,” “Deadbeats,” “My Deal at the Crossroads.”
Oliver Mtukudzi, Paivepo (Putumayo) — Melodic, socially conscious follow-up to last year’s Tuku Music, his U.S. debut, by Zimbabwean artist admired by American blues and rock artists including Carlos Santana and Bonnie Raitt (who was inspired by his music to write “One Belief Away” for her Fundamental album). “Paivepo” means “once upon a time.”
King Bennie Nawahi, Hawaiian String Virtuoso (Yazoo) — 1920s recordings by Hawaiian steel master, encompassing his own original instrumentals as well as blues, jazz, pop, and native Hawaiian music.
Duke Robillard, Explorer (Shanachie) — Follow-up to W.C. Handy Award-nominated New Blues for Modern Man by Roomful of Blues co-founder/jump-blues guitarist is a mix of covers and originals.
Walter Trout, Live Trout (RUF) — Two-CD set from the dynamic electric blues guitarist — popular in Europe, though he still plays blues bars and dives here at home — was recorded in March at the Tampa Blues Fest. Trout honed his chops early in his career playing with John Lee Hooker, Big Mama Thornton, Canned Heat and John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers.
Padraigin Ni Uallachain, Irish Lullaby (Shanachie) — Irish lullabies ancient and modern, rendered by contemporary Irish performers such as Martin O’Connor, Maire Breathnach and Cathal McConnell.
Various artists, The Alan Lomax Collection: Deep River of Song: Big Brazos (Rounder) — Field recordings made by John A. Lomax and Alan Lomax in 1933 and 1934 of Texas prisoners who sang work songs to bolster their spirit and hope for eventual freedom. Twenty songs, including “Stewball,” “Black Betty,” “Long John,” “Waco,” and “Gonna Be a Witness for My Lord.”
Various artists, The Alan Lomax Collection: Deep River of Song: Virginia (Rounder) — Remastered to 20-bit digital from original field recordings made between 1934 and 1942 by John A. Lomax, Alan Lomax and Harold Spivacke. Recorded in Virginia, slavery’s first home in this country, and the Piedmont, where free blacks and whites played music together; 28 songs run gamut from minstrel tunes to spirituals and blues. Josh White, Jimmie Strothers, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee perform the bulk of the material, which includes chestnuts like “John Henry,” “Worried Blues,” “Old Dan Tucker” and “Boll Weevil.”
Various artists, Slidin’ on the Frets (Yazoo) — Recordings from the first half of the 20th century, many previously unreleased, show how Hawaiian acoustic steel infiltrated blues, folk and jazz, and how bluegrass and country ultimately incorporated the unique sound via the Dobro and pedal steel.
(Click here for a full report about this week’s releases.)