REVIEW

Living Blues Magazine: “Such love and appreciation”

Muddy Gurdy was born when the French trio Hypnotic Wheels traveled to Mississippi to record a Hill Country blues album that included collaborations with the descendants of several North Mississippi legends. Muddy Gurdy wasn’t recorded in a studio. Instead, the band engaged in modern-day field recording using microphones and a laptop. The result is an album that sounds far more intimate than anything produced in a recording studio. On a quality sound system, Muddy Gurdy brings a back porch jam session into the listener’s living room. The performances are natural and spontaneous, with the various musicians playing off one another beautifully. Because Hypnotic Wheels includes a traditional French hurdy gurdy (hence the album name), along with guitar, percussion and vocals, they bring a unique twist to their take on Hill Country blues.

Cedric Burnside joins the band for a series of tracks recorded at Sherman Cooper’s farm in Como. On a cover of R.L. Burnside’s Goin’ Down South, Tia Gouttebel and Burnside trade vocals with ease. The droning sound of Gilles Chabenat’s hurdy gurdy adds a haunting ambience. A reading of Cedric Burnside’s own That Girl Is Bad kicks up the energy level. Guitars, percussion and hurdy gurdy all blend to create a sound that’s discordant but still grounded in North Mississippi’s trademark hypnotic groove. Sharde Thomas joins the band for a series of tracks recorded at Moon Hollow Farm. Her fife playing breathes life into a spirited rendition of Otha Turner’s Station Blues. While at Moon Hollow Farm, the band also recorded an intense performance of Junior Kimbrough’s Leave Her Alone. Cameron Kimbrough’s vocals drip with menace and paranoia, and his guitar licks add a dose of juke joint grit.

A pair of performances that feature Hypnotic Wheels unaccompanied by guest musicians demonstrates the band’s respect and devotion to Hill Country blues. The French musicians do justice to Jessie Mae Hemphill’s She Wolf and Fred McDowell’s Shake ’Em On Down. Tia Gouttebel is a standout —her voice has a natural depth and her guitar riffs seem to flow effortlessly. It’s great to hear a young group of European musicians exhibit such love and appreciation for traditional American music —Muddy Gurdy makes the sounds of North Mississippi fresh and exhilarating once again.

By Jon Kleinman. Read the review in the June-July, 2018, issue of Living Blues magazine.

In April-May Living Blues magazine radio chart

Muddy Gurdy, Hypnotic Wheel’s second album, made it to #13 in Living Blues magazine’s April-May 2018 radio chart!

“A real treasure” according to News Review

 

Oh, boy. Just when you start thinking you’ve heard everything, somebody comes out of left field —or in this case la rive gauche— with a new angle on an old and familiar format. French trio Hypnotic Wheels […] uses a hurdy-gurdy as a second guitar that’s linked their traditional French music to north Mississippi hill country blues.

What’s a hurdy-gurdy, you ask? Good question. The band’s PR describes it thusly: “a classic hand-cranked, stringed instrument which is a kind of string section in a box.”

For Muddy Gurdy, the band went to Mississippi and hooked up with some descendants of hill country blues legends. Cedric Burnside, R.L. Burnside’s grandson, delivers a rousing version of his elder’s “See My Jumper Hanging on the Line” and the Muddy Waters classic “Rollin’ and Tumblin’.” Shardé Thomas sings and invokes the shade of her grandfather, Otha Turner, by playing fife on “Glory Glory Hallelujah” that’s made especially haunting by the hurdy-gurdy, which is the perfect instrument for these hypnotic, one-chord blues.

This CD is a real treasure of whose riches I can only mention a few.

By Miles Jordan. Read the full text on News Review

 

Detailed story and in fRoots compilation

In the “Gurdy Up!” story, published in the 418th issue of fRoots Magazine, Cara Gibney tells how “three French musicians headed to the Mississippi hill country to record the remarkable Muddy Gurdy project.” 

She interviewed Marc Glomeau, the percussionist who initiated the project, Tia Gouttebel who brought her guitar playing, her singing, and her knowledge of the blues world, Gilles Chabenat, the hurdy gurdy player, and Pierre Bianchi, the sound engineer who traveled with the trio to record the sessions.

 

fRoots also picked one of Muddy Gurdy‘s songs to include in their free download compilation that goes with the Spring 2018 issue of the magazine. Glory Glory Hallelujah was recorded in the Spring of 2017 in Como, Mississippi, with special guest Shardé Thomas, granddaughter of Otha Turner, fife-and-drum-tradition extraordinaire.

“El sorprendente lanzamiento Muddy Gurdy”

 

[…] Similar línea de experimentación se encuentra el sorprendente lanzamiento “Muddy Gurdy”, que integra las músicas tradicionales francesa, por un lado y por otro, americana; llamada North Mississippi Hill Country blues.

El trío francés “Hypnotic Wheels” compuesto por Tia Gouttebel (voz y guitarra),Gilles Chabenat (hurdy-gurdy, o zanfona, que da medio título al projecto y disco) y Marco Glomeau (percusión); se embarcan en la aventura y deciden visitar las ciudades americanas del Norte del Mississippi y empaparse de estos sonidos. Para ello, se unen a los músicos locales que interpretan este estilo. Con entusiasmo, éstos participan junto al trío francés en las grabaciones, las cuales se realizaron a pie de campo en porches, casas de lugares visitados y monumentos, con métodos caseros de grabación, hecho que le proporciona más naturalidad y autenticidad.

Los músicos americanos son familia de prestigiosos intérpretes, y ellos mismos ya tienen su voz. Serán Cedric Burnside (nieto de R.L. Burnside), Shardé Thomas (nieta de Otha Turner), Cameron Kimbrough (nieto de Junior Kimbrough) Pat Thomas (hijo de James Son Thomas).

Cedric canta y toca la guitarra en “Goin’ Down South” de R.L. Burnside, le apoya en momentos la voz de Tia, la zanfona de Gillesmantiene el lamento y las percusiones de Marco mantienen lo hipnótico, Se aviva el ritmo en “That Girl is Bad” composición del propio Cedric. Continúa Cedric en la voz en “See My Jumper Hanging on the Line”, de corte similar a “Goin Down…” y en Rollin’ and Tumblin’ de Muddy Waters, con la zanfona haciendo replica a las guitarras de Tia y Cedric.

En “Station Blues” canta Shardé la canción de su abuela, tocando a su vez el fife, similar a un flautín, buen contrapunto de la zanfona. Interpreta también una composición suya “Shawty Blues” con la zanfona de fondo y el trémolo de la guitarra de Tia. Vuelve a cantar en la tradicional “Glory Glory Hallelujah” con más protagonismo del fife y el trío francés.

En la siguiente canción toma el protagonismo Cameron Kimbrough, su potente voz y su enérgica guitarra eléctrica en “Leave Her Alone” de su abuelo Junior y en “Gonna Love You”, composición propia.

Pat Thomas toma el testigo en la desgarradora balada suya “Dream” con el lamento de la zanfona de fondo.

Tia canta muy acertadamente la composición de Jessie Mae”She Wolf”, “Shake ‘Em on Down” de Mississippi Fred McDowell, y “Help the Poor” de Charles Singleton. En el Lp y Cd incluyen “Highway 61” como cierre.

Read the full story written by Fernando Hernández (in Spanish) on Off the Hook

“Great album” for Breakfast with the Blues

“I have been playing it for a while… great album!!” comments Steve Spoulos who DJs Breakfast with the Blues every Sunday morning on KRVM, the Eugene, Oregon, public radio.

On March 4, he picked She Wolf, performed by the Hypnotic Wheels trio on the Dockery Farms grounds in Cleveland, Mississippi. A place where the blues was born, according to the Blues Trail Marker placed there.

In January, he had picked Rollin’ and Tumblin’.

Listen to KRVM.

 

Follow Steve’s KRVM’s Breakfast With The Blues page on Facebook.

“A fascinating, enjoyable and idiomatic recording”

This intriguing recording brings together a French trio (Hypnotic Wheels) with several of the most prominent living players of Mississippi North Hill Country Blues.  […]

After a brief instrumental, we hear four field recordings with Cedric Burnside (and one can hear dogs barking in the background) as they launch into a mesmerizing treatment of RL Burnside’s “Goin’ Down South,” with Cedric and Tia alternating vocals with some spellbinding single note guitar runs against a drone musical background. After the performance ends Cedric talks about times with his brother Cody who died at 29 before going into “The Girl is Bad,” with its somewhat jerky groove and slashing slide guitar. This is followed by a high stepping “See My Jumper Hanging On the Line,” with the French trio adding their congenial, if unusual sound to this spirited performance of another RL Burnside song. Cedric further shows how well he continues in the manner of his father on “Rollin’ and Tumblin’.”

Shardé Thomas adds vocals and fife to a vibrant rendition of “Station Blues” (a retitled “Sitting on Top of the World,” with Glomeau providing the fife and drum band groove with Tia and Gilles adding their buzzing backing). It is followed by a haunting “Shawty Blues,”and the spiritual “Glory, Glory Hallelujah.” Cameron Kimbrough then leads us on a lively rendition of “Leave Her Alone,” from his father Junior Kimbrough, set against the mesmerizing backing, while his own “Gonna Love You,” is a tough performance in a similar vein.

Pat Thomas’ “Dream” has a wistful quality while the hurdy gurdy of Chabenat provides a somber fiddle-like backing. It is followed by the trio’s own interpretations including a rendition of Jesse Mae Hemphill’s “She Wolf,” recorded at Dockery Farms, along renditions of Mississippi Fred McDowell’s “Shake ‘Em On Down,” and B.B. King’s recording, “Help The Poor.” One wonders Jesse Mae Hemphill might have thought of her music influencing this French singer and guitarist, who does a more than simply capable job in singing and performing these. Pat Thomas, sounding like his father, James ‘Son’ Thomas, closes this album at the Highway 61 Museum (with traffic in the background) with a simple, stark and moving “Standing at the Crossroads/Dust My Broom” mashup, titled here “Highway 61.” 

While this won’t replace the classic recordings of Fred McDowell, RL Burnside, Jesse Mae Hemphill and Junior Kimbrough, the Hypnotic Wheels has produced a fascinating, enjoyable and idiomatic recording that pays homage to their musical influences. It presents the current practitioners of this tradition with emphatic backing that is so much more appropriate to the music than most efforts to modernize (or commercialize) this tradition. This is a recording that brings pleasure everytime I listen to it.

By Ron Weinstock, in one of his “semi-regular collection of observations, reviews and more about blues, jazz and other matters informed by the blues tradition.” Read the full review on In a Blue Mood.

“Original i d’una força sorprenent”

“T’agrada el blues?” Do you love the blues? If you do, Catalunya Radio, in Spain, offers to discover two albums: “Live at Carnegie Hall” by Joe Bonamassa… and “l’últim d’un trio francès anomenat Muddy Gurdy, tan primitiu com original i d’una força sorprenent” —”the latest recording by Muddy Gurdy? a French trio named Muddy Gurdy, primitive, original, and suprisingly powerful.”

Listen bluesman and radio host Quico Pi de la Serra’s whole T’agrada el blues? show (in Catalan), on Catalunya Radio. 

 

 

“Really a terrific release and one to catch!”

 

[…] Opening with RL Burnside’s, Goin’ Down South the group conjurs the feeling of Mali and Ali Farka Touré. Very nice. Another Burnside track, See My Jumper Hanging On The Line maintains a really rural feel with gritty guitar work and earthy vocals. Muddy Water’s Rollin’ and Tumblin’ is tom tom heavy with acoustic slide and authentic vocals.

Otha Turner’s Station Blues really keeps in line with Turner’s roots with ancient slide sounds and snare drum accompaniment behind Tia’s vocals and Sharde’s fife. Very nice. With a more modern hip hop/jazz feel, Tia shows excellent vocal phrasing over a much more contemporary light sound. Cameron Kimbrough’s Gonna Love You has that classic North Mississippi sound with it’s loose guitar soloing and Hooker like vocals. Excellent! Mississippi Fred McDowell’s Shake ‘Em On Down has a great rudimentary feel with rhythm guitar drive and slide guitar flash. Very cool. Wrapping the release is Highway 61, played in the most raw form imaginable and with falsetto vocals over the sounds of cars and trucks on the road in backing.

This is really a terrific release and one to catch!

By BMan. Read the full review on BMan’s Blues Report

On the Undercover Country playlist

“On this week’s Undercover Country podcast, we reveal the identity of the mysterious ‘Silver Yodeler’, we play a re-telling by arguably, Ireland’s greatest storyteller, Eddie Lenihan, some German country and a blues group fronted by a viellist!” i.e. Gilles Chabenat and Hypnotic Wheel. Their Muddy Gurdy album blends into Dylan Fitzgerald’s very interesting playlist, mixing “odd and unusual country music from around the world”.

Listen to Glory Glory Hallelujah with Shardé Thomas at 43:30.