Personnel: Aynsley Lister (vocals, guitar, bass instrument); Will Dawson (rap vocals); James Mathus & His Knockdown Society (trombone); Tim Hinkley (keyboards); Daren Dortin, Steve Potts (drums); Erja Lyytinen (vocals, guitar, slide guitar); Ian Parker (vocals, guitar).
Audio Mixers: Will Dawson; Jason Latshaw.
Liner Note Author: Tom "Curly" Ruff.
Recording information: Ardent Studios, Memphis, TN (09/06/2005-09/13/2005); Delta Recording Studio, Clarksdale, MS (09/06/2005-09/13/2005).
Photographer: Tom "Curly" Ruff.
The concept was breathtaking in its simplicity: take three European artists in thrall to the blues, and send them off to record in Clarkesdale, Mississippi, Memphis, and New Orleans. Unfortunately, that latter destination was never reached; Katrina put an end to that dream, and instead, the bulk of this set was cut in a recovering Mississippi, with a few numbers also recorded in Memphis. In both studios the threesome were joined by a clutch of artists, which may explain the extreme diversity of this album, which swings from Delta blues to much more modern-styled R&B. But this is a Pilgrimage of course, and Brits Aynsley Lister and Ian Parker and Finn Erja Lyytinen seem determined to explore every facet of blues and its descendants. And the styles impact elsewhere, too, as Lister and Parker's own country's twist on R&B and the blues infuse their songs. There are finger-pickin' on the porch numbers like the dreamy "Dreamland Blues," and the foot-tapping "Mississippi Lawnmower Blues" -- great title, that -- the jammy blues of "Heal Me Love," and the 12-bar blues of "Too Much to Hide" and "Blues Caravan." These all strive toward a purist sound, but with "1010 Degrees" the group join the British Invasion. "Twinkle Toes Willie" splashes into Chuck Berry territory, while "You Don't Know" adds a jazz twist, while "Heal Me Love" takes blues into the indie scene. One can only imagine what the trio would've gotten up to in New Orleans, but even though their pilgrimage was cut short, this must have been one hell of a journey, the results picture postcards from a musical scene long gone, but whose echoes still linger on strongly today. ~ Jo-Ann Greene