July 05, 2010

Shake Sugaree - Elizabeth Cotten

One of the ancients unearthed during the 60s folk boom - cf. Mississippi John Hurt and Doc Boggs - Elizabeth Cotten didn't commit her sweet country blues to vinyl until she was 66 years old. Her melodies and cadences are not unlike MJH and if anything are even more idiosyncratic: playing guitar and banjo left-handed, upside down and backward, with a picking style giving the bass strings a clear sound while working muted harmonics on the treble strings. Her vocals are often fragile-sounding and shaky. Don't be misled by the opening title track sung by her 12 year old grandchild.

This 2004 collection from Smithsonian Folkways is a revised reissue of her second 1965 LP, plus ten previously unreleased tracks. Awarded a Grammy Award in 1985, when she was 90 years old, she passed away in 1987. This is special.

Oddi wrth y brawd
till we meet again

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