REVIEW

“Offbeat project a great addition to hill-country blues canon”

This is a terrific, offbeat project. A young French blues group featuring a female singer/guitarist and a hurdy-gurdy filling in chords like a Farsifa organ travelled to the North Mississippi hill country outside Memphis and recorded live in-studio (and sometimes on-porch) with grandchildren of former local blues legends Otha Turner, Junior Kimbrough, and R.L. Burnside. Everything works sensationally well. The hurdy-gurdy with its bagpipe-like drone turns out to be a great instrument for one-chord hill-country blues. The French players are high-quality. The young American blues players give superlative performances. This is similar to some of the North Mississippi Allstars projects — some of the same artists, lots of the same feel. If you like the North Mississippi Allstars, or for that matter Turner, Kimbrough, Burnside, John Lee Hooker, Mississippi Fred McDowell, Howlin’ Wolf, this is a record you will enjoy.

– John, an Amazon customer. Get your copy of Muddy Gurdy on Amazon as well. 

Six times in Soul Bag Mag’s best of 2018!

French magazine Soul Bag Mag released its “Best of 2018” lists.

In the list curated by Stéphane Colin, Muddy Gurdy is represented in three categories! In the Albums of the year, in the Songs of the year with “Glory”, and in the Revelations.

Eric Doidy also put Muddy Gurdy, Hypnotic Wheels’ second album, in two lists: Albums of the year and Concerts of the year, for Hypnotic Wheels’ show at the Blues Rules Festival in Switzerland.

Three is supposed to be a charm. That is what Jacques Perin does by adding Muddy Gurdy in his Revelations of the year, for both the album and the live shows!

Find all the lists in the news (Actu) section of Soul Bag

George Mitchell: “So beautifully innovative”

How could anyone have imagined 50 years ago, when I made the first field recordings of R.L. Burnside and Otha Turner, that I would now be writing about some blues artists who traveled from FRANCE to make some field recordings of —and WITH— R.L.’s and Otha’s GRANDCHILDREN! The resulting album, Murdy Gurdy (titled after one of their instruments, a traditional French one called a hurdy gurdy), is so beautifully innovative that I have enjoyed listening to it repeatedly. Cedric Burnside and Sharde Thomas (and Cameron Kimbrough) were obviously inspired by this fresh approach to Hill Country Blues, and they sound great in these one-take, highly spontaneous recordings done on location (with rather more sophisticated equipment than I used in 1967). Since two other Hill Country artists I recorded back then, Fred McDowell and Jessie Mae Hemphill, had no grandchildren carrying on their music, the French trio, Hypnotic Wheels, recorded their own highly energetic and unique versions of “Shake ‘Em on Down” and “She Wolf.” Tia Gouttebel is the singer and guitarist, and may be the most innovative blues musician solidly grounded in tradition performing today.

By record producer and music historian George Mitchell.

George Mitchell has written several books, the latest being Mississippi Hill Country Blues 1967 which includes a collection of a hundred black and white photographs, released in 2013 by the University of Mississippi Press. Before, he published Blow My Blues Away (Louisiana State University Press, 1971), I’m Somebody Important: Young Black Voices from Rural Georgia (University of Illinois Press, 1973), Yessir, I’ve Been Here a Long Time: The Faces and Words of Americans Who Have Lived a Century (E.P. Dutton, 1975).

He also recorded numerous albums, which were released by Fat Possum, Arhoolie, Rounder, Testament, Hightone, Flyright, Southland and Swingmaster. Fat Possum has issued 26 CDs of field recordings known as The George Mitchell Collection.

Blues Magazine (NL): “This album is a gift!”

‘Muddy Gurdy’ is een waar genot om naar te luisteren omdat het zo puur is en omdat het echt live is. Dit is de oer-blues.  Het is ook mooi en boeiend om te ontdekken waar de latere Engelse blues zijn oorsprong vond. Je ‘hoort’ Rory Gallagher, John Mayall, Alexis Korner, The Stones, The Yardbirds, enz. enz.

Voor de echte blues liefhebber, die ook wat dieper wil gaan, is dit album een cadeau!

– By Bennuman, on Blues Magazine, from The Netherlands. 

Which gives, in English: “Muddy Gurdy is a true pleasure to listen to because it is so pure and because it is really live. This is the original blues. It is also beautiful and fascinating to discover where the later English blues came from. You ‘hear’ Rory Gallagher, John Mayall, Alexis Korner, The Stones, The Yardbirds, etc. For the true blues lover, who also wants to go a little deeper, this album is a gift!

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.