THE HOBO'S LAST RIDE was nominated for a 1997 Grammy Award for Best Traditional Folk Album.
Personnel: Norman Blake (vocals, guitar, slide guitar, banjo, mandolin, fiddle, viola); Nancy Blake (vocals, guitar, mandolin, cello).
Recording information: Cedar House Studios, Arrington, TN.
Photographers: Nancy Blake; Norman Blake.
Unknown Contributor Role: Nancy Blake.
One could think of this as the Blakes' answer to Ry Cooder's BOOMER'S STORY. On THE HOBO'S LAST RIDE Norman and Nancy provide a look into an earlier American era of hard times and simple faith via a collection of once-topical songs and gospel tunes. As good topical tunes will, "The Democratic Donkey" and "Starving to Death on a Government Claim" use humor to make their point, though the specific politics of the F.D.R. era which they address are a bit obscure at this point.
There's some fine picking amidst the midtempo songstering, but this is not necessarily the record to get if you're new to the work of Norman Blake--try LIGHTHOUSE ON THE SHORE or BLAKE AND RICE as an introduction instead. The Blakes do scatter a few instrumentals throughout, notably the original mandolin tune "Thebes," and "Home of the Soul" and "Old Shady Bothreen," both of which feature Nancy's evocative use of the cello.