Album Reviews

Jim Kweskin

Unjugged

Artist:     Jim Kweskin

Album:     Unjugged

Label:     Hornbeam Recordings

Release Date:     12.1.2017

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To many, these days the name Jim Kweskin will have little meaning. On the other hand, for those of a certain age with some memory-banks still sparking, he’s a guy we’re unlikely to forget. And on the strength of this unexpected release, we truly have something to be thankful for.

Kweskin virtually single-handedly created what was a significant musical genre in the USA in the early 1960s. Jug Band music may seem something of an archaic anachronism in another century, but at the time it sparked a remarkable interest among lovers of the then nascent folk revival. At the very top of this exploding folk-pyramid sat Connecticut guitarist, singer, interpreter of roots and US traditional music, Jim Kweskin.

Now pushing on a bit in years, with Unjugged, a 15-track release, Kweskin again reminds us just how influential he was, and how his love for traditional music—generally of American origin—remains central to him. Now in his late 70s, nevertheless his voice remains clear and strong while his fretwork, ever a strength with its Mississippi John Hurt style of picking, is also impeccable at all times. On Unjugged, Kweskin draws on many old US roots standards from “Days of ’49,” John Hurt’s “Spike Driver Blues,” “Is It True What They Say About Dixie,” Pete Seeger’s “Living In the Country,” adds a iving In the Country,’y About Dixie,’ with UK acoustic picker Donovan’h its Mississippi John Hurt style of picking, is also impflash of Blind Blake before closing with UK acoustic picker Donovan’s “Colours.”

Unjugged is an album that may surprise some but should also open doors for many to the power and beauty of traditional, old-school folk music delivered by an absolute master of the genre.

—Iain Patience

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