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Honey Babe

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Album Review

Although North Carolina native Algia Mae Hinton began playing guitar in the late '30s at the age of ten, Honey Babe, her first full- length album (an EP appeared in the mid-'80s on Audio Arts) wasn't released until 1999 when Hinton was 68. A casual collection of Piedmont blues, folk pieces, and gospel tunes, Honey Babe is full of warmth and joy, and even features a little of Hinton's trademark buck dancing. She sounds like a cross between Etta Baker and Elizabeth Cotten, also both from North Carolina, although she isn't quite as precise a guitarist as the former (Hinton's title tune, "Honey Babe," is a variation on Baker's signature "Railroad Bill" progression) or as timeless a writer as the latter (whose "Freight Train" and "Shake Sugaree" compositions have become folk-blues standards). She shares Cotten's fragile, delicate singing style as well, although Hinton's wry humor is all her own, and her sheer delight in music and motion is everywhere evident on this album. Among the highlights are "Honey Babe," "Snap Your Fingers," and an impressive turn at the banjo for "Out of Jail."


Born: 1929

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '90s

Piedmont blues performer Algia Mae Hinton was born in 1929 in Johnston County, NC; the daughter of Ollie O'Neal (a local legend whose musical skills were so extraordinary that many believed she'd made a pact with the devil), she began playing guitar at age nine, and as a teen was a fixture at area dances and house parties. A gifted buckdancer as well as musician, Hinton spent the better part of her life enduring seasonal farm work; after the tragically premature death of her husband, she was left...
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Honey Babe, Algia Mae Hinton
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