Jake Calypso and Archie Lee Hooker – Vance, Mississippi | Album Review

jakecalypsoarchieleehookercdJake Calypso and Archie Lee Hooker – Vance, Mississippi…

Chickens Records

18 songs – 53 minutes

www.jakecalypso.com

www.archieleehooker.com

If you’ve ever had doubt about the blues coming full circle as its traveled the globe, you can put them to rest with the release of this interesting acoustic album that pairs artists who grew up in lifestyles and cultures a world apart.

Born in northern France in the mid-‘60s, guitarist, vocalist and radio show host Jake Calypso has an extensive background as an artist in Europe, while vocalist Archie Lee Hooker was born in the Delta and has lived in Memphis and California. Together, their Vance, Mississippi…release on Calypso’s label captures the spirit of the plantation 100 years ago as it effortlessly delivers a full set of country blues.

Calypso’s career began as a teenager with The Corals, a rockabilly unit with one release on the Belgian Mac label. He recorded one single under the name Teddy Best before founding Mystery Train, a popular blues ensemble with several pressings in the Netherlands. More than 1,000 gigs and three CDs followed with the trio Hot Chickens before Jake reinvented himself into his current persona, honoring his grandson by adopting his given name as his professional surname.

Archie, meanwhile, began his career as a member of The Marvellous Five, a gospel quintet that worked from Memphis to New Orleans. He’s a nephew of the legendary John Lee Hooker, who schooled him in the blues and often shared the stage with him on the West Coast. He’s released five previous albums under his own name and toured internationally with Carl Wyatt And The Rhythm Kings. Since 2011, he’s fronted his own group, Archie Lee Hooker And The Coast To Coast Blues Band – with bandmates from Luxembourg, Brazil and France.

Recorded both in Europe and the Bluff City, this all-original release is fresh but imbued with the spirit, melancholy and subject matter of the past. The instrumentation features only the two guitarists accompanied by The Boogie Combo — Ruine B on harmonica and Terry Reilles on drums – along with guest shots by harp player Sonny Mat D and guitarists/backing vocalists Manu Slide and Little Legs, all of whom make brief appearances.

The title cut “Vance, Mississippi” kicks off the action atop a circular harp riff and steady guitar pattern with Calypso describing a visit to the town and Hooker noting that he and dozens of other blues artists had grown up in the vicinity. Archie sings about his father in “Juke House Man” before describing his love for a white woman in “Louise Blues,” a tragedy because his own brother tried to kill her and also murdered their parents, too.

In the sprightly shuffle “Blues Inside Me,” Hooker’s father runs off with another woman, leaving the family without a crumb to eat. Calypso’s “Rose Hill Blues” describes a freed man who’s finally able to buy the woman he loves out of slavery. The price: A world of pain and $2. A percussive tempo powers “Blues & Trouble” before Calypso uses octave jumps to deliver “Hey Barber, Barber!” accompanied by harp, handclaps and rhythmic strumming.

The pace slows dramatically for “Blues In My Bones” before a military drumbeat drives “Rain, Rain, Rain.” Next up, “Ruine B Boogie,” a brief instrumental composed by the harp player, is the only tune in the set not written by the headliners. “No Good Woman,” “John Wood Choppin’” and “My Shoes” follow before the final five cuts — “Did You Stop Loving Me Baby,” “I’ve Played Boogie In Your Garden Man,” “Get A Job Man,” “Without One Million” and “Take Your Time Lord,” recorded at home by Jake accompanied by his family — bonus tracks previously released on a vinyl EP.

Richly annotated, it’s available through Bear Family and other online retailers.

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