REVIEW

“Highly recommended” by Philly Cheeze Blues

Muddy Gurdy is absolutely one of the most interesting blues albums I’ve heard in recent years.  Hypnotic Wheels, a trio of French musicians, Tia Gouttebel (guitar/vocals) Gilles Chabenat(hurdy-gurdy) and Marc Glomeau (percussion) embarked on a journey to the hills of North Mississippi to record with local blues artists who are tightly connected to the fabulous music of their elders.  The recordings were made using a hurdy-gurdy as a second guitar and captured with an eight-microphone preamp and computer in someone’s house, porch, front yard, or historic landmark such as Dockery Farms or B.B. King’s Club Ebony.  From Mississippi, the contributing artists are Cedric Burnside, Shardé Thomas, Cameron Kimbrough, and Pat Thomas.

I love the homage to R.L. Burnside, with the wonderfully hypnotic cover of “Goin’ Down South” and the driving beat of “See My Jumper Hanging on the Line”.  It’s in these two tracks that the wonder of the hurdy-gurdy is revealed.  Its swampy slide-like sound magically lends itself to trance blues music in a very fitting fashion.  Cedric Burnside, grandson to R.L., appears with acoustic guitar in hand and mic for a beautiful performance.  He pays a wonderful tribute to his late brother Cody Burnside on “That Girl is Bad”, and hangs around for a tantalizing cover of Muddy Waters’ “Rollin’ and Tumblin’”.

Muddy Gurdy explores fife and drum music with Shardé Thomas.  Thomas gives a delicate vocal and fife performance on “Station Blues”, a song by her grandfather and fife-master Otha Thomas.  Her delivery of the traditional “Glory Glory Hallelujah” is stunning.

It’s a real treat to hear Cameron Kimbrough, tearing it up on guitar while singing his grandfather Junior’s “Leave Her Alone”. The rolling rhythm pulls me right in to its vortex of sound. Cameron inherently keeps the swirling melodic framework in place for his own original tune, “Gonna Love You”.  Pat Thomas’ “Dream” is downright extraordinary.  Sung and strummed by the son of James “Son” Thomas at the Highway 61 Museum in Leland, Mississippi, this folk-country blues song is a prime example of the inner-beauty of music.

At Dockery Farms, Gouttebel takes the vocal reins on Hypnotic Wheels’ rendition of Mississippi Fred McDowell’s classic “Shake ‘em on Down” which is followed up with a mesmerizing cover of Charles Singleton’s “Help the Poor”, first recorded by B.B. King in 1964.

I highly recommend this album, especially for fans of the North Mississippi Hill Country Blues.

Phillip Smith posted his review of Muddy Gurdy both on Facebook and on his website, phillycheezeblues. And what a review!

Read the review on Philly Cheeze’s website. 

 

Some more air time on Live from the Midnight Circus

After Gonna Love You, which was broadcasted last week, Live from the Midnight Circus spins Leave Her Alone, another song from Muddy Gurdy, Hypnotic Wheel’s latest CD. Tune in this Tuesday, February 6, 2018, at 9 am EST (3 pm Paris time, 2 pm London time) to Rock Radio UK BLUES at RRUK

4 stars for Roots Music Report

French folk musicians meet North Mississippi blues crusaders, stir two traditions together and make for a mix that’s equal parts front-porch good vibes and Hill Country hoodoo. Hurdy-gurdy player Gilles Chabanat sounds right at home alongside guitarist Cedric Burnside and others on simmering run-throughs of R.L. Burnside’s “Goin’ Down South” and “See My Jumper Hanging On The Line” and Muddy Waters’ “Rollin’ and Tumblin’”.  Fife-and-drum features “Station Blues” and “Glory Glory Hallelujah” are particularly captivating.

By Duane Verh, on Roots Music Report. Read the full review. 

 

Elmore Magazine: “Unbouded vision” and “sheer talent”

The blues had yet another baby, and they called it Muddy Gurdy. Quite the beauty she is, too, crying her tunes straight from the hearts of people, and the souls of places. Though just marginally credited by name, Muddy Gurdy originated with the French trio, Hypnotic Wheels. Comprised of singer/guitarist Tia Gouttebel, percussionist Marc Glomeau, and Gilles Chabenat on the coil-on-strings hurdy-gurdy (thus, the band’s name), all three possess unbounded vision besides sheer talent.

Always inspired by the blues, they decided that for their second album, a first-hand experience in Mississippi was in order. Focused on the absolutely hypnotic music played vibrantly by the kinfolk of legends R.L. Burnside, Junior Kimbrough, Othar Turner, and James “Son” Thomas, they cut these blues “field-style” with Cedric Burnside, Cameron Kimbrough, Pat Thomas, and Sharde Thomas. The results arouse all kinds of emotion.

The hurdy-gurdy emits a tone right at home in these rural environs, akin to an off-kilter fiddle mimicking a scraped guitar one second, and perhaps an ancient organ wash the next. The first spin of the album may elicit a glance around the room until the realization hits that it’s “Tia In The Rocking Chair,” at night among the crickets, delicate refrains of “Goin’ Down South” escaping her lips.

Then the tough strains of R.L.’s requiem for the virtues of his home hit full-force, North Mississippi-style, but with a touch of—dare I say—class. Gouttebel brings it, along with Cedric Burnside, the two crocheted together like a warm electric blanket. Cedric’s own “That Girl is Bad” follows the tradition, a jumpy blues that bemoans a lover, albeit with humor.

On the traditional “Glory Glory Hallelujah,” the Wheels, with Sharde Thomas on the porch of the Moon Hollow Farm, replicate the sound of her granddaddy Othar Turner’s fife and drum blues with outright glory. Kimbrough evokes the marching beats of his granddad at the same session, on Junior’s “Leave Her Alone.”

Hypnotic Wheels alone close the album, covering Jesse Mae Hemphill (“She Wolf”), Fred McDowell (“Shake ‘em on Down”), and the traditional “Highway 61,” all with incredible spirit at the famed Dockery Farms.

These punchy, wonderful recordings not only propagate the blues. They enrich its character, and most importantly, its significance.

By Tom Clarke, in Elmore Magazine. Read the full review.

 

Fotobluesrock: “Ongelofelijk authentieke”

Het resultaat is een ongelofelijk authentieke opname, zonder trucjes of glans, waarbij de titels op locatie worden opgenomen, waar de oude muziek smelt tot een nieuwe […]

Read the full review (in Dutch) on Fotobluesrock.nl

 

Making a Scene:
“No doubt, they got it”

This is one of the most interesting collaborations of blues we have heard in some time.  A trio of French musicians – Tia Goutteble (guitar, voice), Gilles Chabenat (Hurdy-Gurdy – a traditional French instrument), and Marc Glomeau (percussion) call themselves the Hypnotic Wheels Trio.  Their music draws its inspiration from traditional French music and North Mississippi Hill Country Blues.  In some respects, it’s like the efforts of groups like Tinariwen from Mali – marrying their native music with American blues.  In this case the Hurdy-Gurdy is used as a second guitar.  This is the first time that music from these two cultures have combined.  So, to make this, their second album, even more authentic, the trio travelled to Mississippi and collaborated with some of the major local artists. |…]

Without recording studios or top shelf technology, field engineer Pierre Bianchi captured these sessions with an 8 microphone preamp and a computer. The recordings took place on front porches, back porches, and historic landmarks in Mississippi. With no gimmicks the sound is not only authentic but especially engaging as you can hear train whistles and highway traffic on occasion. […]

Burnside, Shade Thomas, Kimbrough, and Pat Thomas are all descendants of their prestigious elders (RL Burnside, Otha Turner, Junior Kimbrough, James Son Thomas).  None of the four approach the project with a “take charge” mentality.  Instead, they give humble, passionate performances, immersing themselves in the music. And, these musicians certainly passed on that North Mississippi Hill County feel to the trio.  Listen to Cedric Burnside leading “See My Jumper Hanging on the Line” or Sharde Thomas leading “Glory” and then catch the trio doing Mississippi Fred’s “Shake ‘Em On Down.”  No doubt, they got it.

Read Jim Hynes full review of Muddy Gurdy in Making a Scene

 

No Depression: “The talent […] is immense”

This was something that came in to the house completely unknown in any way shape or form; there was no advanced word about it, no tear sheet in the package, absolutely nothing other than here you are, some Cds in the mail!  When the Cds got here and were opened and laid out the name MUDDY GURDY stood out as well as the photography and beautiful art work on the disc.  It stood out because it was subtle and totally unknown, a complete lack of hype. […]

This is a three person French group that came to the States with the idea of recording an Album with the blues players that populate the North Mississippi Hill Country:  what they wound up doing was getting a new name, Muddy Gurdy (they were The Hypnotic Wheels; Tia Gouttebel {guitar, vocals}, Gilles Chabenat {hurdy-gurdy}, and Marco Glomeau {percussion}), introducing an old French instrument to the people of the Hill Country, and making a damn fine disc that blends traditional French and Blues musics, probably the only one with a hurdy-gurdy on it.  […]

Then you start with some very muffled sounds for about half a minute that don’t really make any sense, and then there is the real start of the disc with the second song.  We won’t ruin all the surprises the disc has to offer, and they are many.  If you are familiar with the North Mississippi Hill Country Blues, this is it as played Cedric Burnside, Sharde Thomas, Cameron Kimbrough,  and Pat Thomas and the talent from both sides of the Atlantic is immense.

This was not recorded in fancy studios in Memphis or Nashville but on back-porches, at people’s farms, and old clubs like the Ebony Club, places that retain the vibrations of the sounds made all those years ago.  If you love Blues you will probably have trouble getting it out of your changer.  This is a disc that you will play for friends and other music people who you wish to turn on to something new/old and exciting.

By Bob Gottlieb, in a story called “foreign + home grown = explosion”.

Read the full (awesome) critique of Muddy Gurdy in No Depression.  

Les Inrocks: “At the high level of the best heirs of the blues”

Muddy Gurdy sort un album à la hauteur des meilleurs héritiers du blues du Mississippi […]

Cette musique est un fantasme. Celui, bien compréhensible, de tous les amateurs de musique qui un jour ont entendu le morceau Goin’ down South du bluesman R. L. Burnside, et ne s’en sont jamais remis. Cette chanson est un sésame, la porte d’entrée vers les mystères et les moites délices du blues du Nord Mississippi. Le Nord Mississippi n’est pas le delta. C’est le pays des collines, des forêts recouvertes d’un manteau de kudzu et d’une manière bien locale et sorcière de jouer du blues – hypnotique, électrique, érotique, dansant, fondant et fondé sur la pulsation rythmique plutôt que la mélodie. […]

Menaçant, chaotique et sexy, cet album est incroyablement bon, à la hauteur des meilleurs héritiers du blues de là-bas. C’était vraiment une bonne idée, ces ébats entre le vieux (blues) et la vielle (à roue).

Hypnotic Wheels’ Muddy Gurdy’s Project is featured in Les Inrockuptibles, one of France’s major music magazine —a critique full of praise written by Stéphane Deschamps.

Read the full critique (in French). 

 

The review, as translated by Richard Rosenblatt, founder-president of Vizztone, the label which releases the album this week:

This music is a fantasy. That, understandably, of all the music lovers who one day heard the song Goin Down South by bluesman RL Burnside and never recovered. This song is an ‘open sesame”, the gateway to the mysteries and sweet delights of North Mississippi blues. North Mississippi is not the delta. It is the land of hills, forests covered with a Kudzu mantle and a very local and arcane way to play the blues – hypnotic, electric, erotic, dancing, melting and based on the rhythmic beat rather than the melody .

Goin ‘Down South opens the first album of Muddy Gurdy. Muddy Gurdy is the parallel and traveling project of a French trio called Hypnotic Wheels, Of note: they play blues with a ”vielle à roue” —a hurdy-gurdy (Literal translation: Old Wheel). Last spring, they went down south, a Homeric voyage to record with some demi-gods, or their descendants, of the local blues – Pat and Shardé Thomas, children of Burnside and Kimbrough. The recordings were made in field-recording style, in houses or courtyards, with bits of dialogue, barking dogs and train sirens, far from any confinement.

Muddy Gurdy plays covers, these totemic songs shaped by RL Burnside, Fred McDowell, Jessie Mae Hemphill: Shake em on down, She Wolf, See My Jumper on the Line, Rollin’ and Tumblin’, and of course, Goin ‘down South. Playing covers is easy. Honoring them with a vision is better and that’s what Muddy Gurdy does. Used as a second guitar, the hurdy gurdy sounds like an African violin, with dense, rotating notes marrying this lascivious-aggressive North Mississippi blues. We find this huge, rumbling primitive rhythm, coming from fife & drum, the night of the blues. And these guitars like volcanic rock that becomes lava again.

Threatening, chaotic and sexy, this album is incredibly good, at the high level of the best heirs of the blues from there. It was really a good idea, these frolics between the old (blues) and the old (wheel.)

 

Gonna Love You played on Live from the Midnight Circus

“It is strong, it is growing and it is going to be huge,” says, about the blues indie scene, Richard Lhommedieu, who just came back from the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, where he was a judge.

For his January 30, 2018, Live at the Midnight Circus show, in which he is “honoring the past, praising the present, empowering the future,” he picked Cameron Kimbrough’s Gonna Love You, which the Mississippi musician recorded with Hypnotic Wheels for their Muddy Gurdy CD at the Moon Hollow Farm in Como, Mississippi.

The song starts just before the 7:00 mark.

For Sunday breakfast in Oregon

KRVM’s Breakfast With the Blues airs every Sunday morning from the Eugene, Oregon, area. A show hosted by BoogieKing Steve.

On January 28, 2018, at 9:11 am, he broadcasted Muddy Gurdy‘s Rollin’ and Tumblin’, right before R.L. Burnside’s Old Black Mattie. For those interested, here is the full playlist.

For the story, Hypnotic Wheels recorded Rollin’ and Tumblin’, a song made famous by Muddy Waters and later by R.L. Burnside, with R.L.’s grandson, Cedric Burnside, in the Como, Mississippi, countryside in late April, 2017.