Howard Armstrong Louie Bluie [Bonus Tracks]
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- Released: August 18, 1998
- Label: Arhoolie Records
Dirty Linen - 4-5/96, p.79"...violinist and mandolin player Howard Armstrong is a walking history of American music...LOUIE BLUIE...encapsulates some of the best material from Armstrong's long career..."
Dirty Linen - 4-5/99, p.71"...a vibrant set of songs and tunes that range from ragtime to blues to country to popular..."
Living Blues - 7-8/99, pp.83-4"...LOUIE BLUIE provides a joyful and informative sampling of an artist who has always refused to be constrained by musical boundaries."
- 1.New State Street Rad
- 2.Nothing in This Wide World for Me
- 3.That'll Never Happen to Me
- 4.Ted's Stomp
- 5.My Four Reasons
- 7.38 Pistol Blues
- 8.Darktown Strutters' Ball
- 9.When He Calls Me I Will Answer
- 10.Vine Street Drag
- 11.My Gal Sal Medley
- 12.State Street Rag
- 13.Du, Du Liechst Mir Im Herzen
- 14.Railroad Blues
- 15.Cacklin' Hen
- 16.Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams
- 17.Vine Street Drag
- 18.The Girl I Love
- 19.Milk Cow Blues
- 20.When You Feel Down and Out
Personnel: Howard "Louie Bluie" Armstrong (vocals, guitar, mandolin, violin); Ray Kamalay (guitar, background vocals); John Rockwood (harmonica); Ralphe Armstrong (bass).
Recorded at Scharren Studios, Toledo, Ohio. Includes liner notes by Molly Schiever Behrmann.
Personnel: Howard Armstrong (vocals, guitar, mandolin, violin); Ted Bogan (vocals, guitar); Banjo Ikey Robinson (vocals, banjo); Willie Sievers (piano).
As easy as it is to characterize Howard Armstrong as the last link in the once great African-American string band tradition, he really had the kind of personality and talent that transcended simple genre labels. A visual artist as well as a consummate musician (he is rumored to have been able to play 22 different types of instruments), his grasp of musical styles was panoramic, ranging from blues, jazz, country, and pop to all manner of jigs, reels, waltzes, and spirituals, and he could sing and entertain in four languages, including German, Polish, and Italian as well as English. Although he tended to concentrate on fiddle and mandolin in his later years, no musical style or instrument was ever safely out of reach of Armstrong's sweeping vision. This marvelous disc was originally released in 1995 (it won a W.C. Handy Award that year) and it stands as Armstrong's only solo project (although he is helped here on bass by his son, Ralphe Armstrong, a veteran of stints with John McLaughlin and Jean-Luc Ponty, and the swing-style guitar of Ray Kamalay). Armstrong was 86 years old when these sessions were recorded, but there is no sign of declining skills as he tackles spirituals ("Wading Through Deep Water," "When He Calls Me I Will Answer"), traditional folk pieces (a wonderfully swinging "John Henry"), classic jazz ("St. Louis Blues," which takes on a gypsy swagger with Armstrong's ragged mandolin fills), and even a pair of Gershwin compositions ("Oh, Lady Be Good," "Summertime"). Armstrong's version of "Summertime" is particularly stunning, his moaning and swooping fiddle lines highlighting perfectly his casual (but careful) vocal. In the end, Armstrong is really more street jazz than he is blues, and this disc hints at the full range of his musical possibilities. Taken with the Arhoolie collection that goes by the same title, Louie Bluie, a complete portrait of this charming and versatile musician begins to emerge. ~ Steve Leggett
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