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Bull Durham Blues

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Album Review

Piedmont bluesman John Dee Holeman mixes a little Texas into his North Carolina guitar approach, even covering Lightnin' Hopkins' "Give Me Back My Wig" as the first track of Bull Durham Blues, his debut album. Holeman isn't as irascible as Hopkins, with a gentle vocal approach that's closer to Mississippi John Hurt in demeanor, and his guitar playing isn't as distinctive as either Hopkins or Hurt, but he gets the job done with a good deal of charm. On songs like the easy, relaxed "Crow Jane" (a wonderful example of how to use the floating verses that are in every good bluesman's tool kit), the gentle "Little Country Gal," and the slightly paranoid "Stranger Blues," Holeman conjures up a timeless, back porch feel without getting too generic about it. The half-spoken, half-rapped "Hambone" is a clear highlight, with Holeman doing the hambone with a buckdancer's grace. Recorded in 1998 in Pinnacle, N.C., Bull Durham features Taj Mahal on several tracks helping out on bass, guitar, piano and the hambone, too.

Biography

Born: 1929 in Orange County, NC

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '90s

Fans of Piedmont blues as performed by the likes of the late John Jackson and John "Bowling Green" Cephas will like the guitar and vocal stylings of John Dee Holeman, who has several recordings that are readily available. Holeman has been based in Durham, North Carolina since 1954. Over the years, tobacco city Durham has been home to a prominent list of bluesmen, including people like Rev. Gary Davis, Arthur Lyons, and Blind Boy Fuller. Holeman has updated the older Durham acoustic Piedmont blues...
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Bull Durham Blues, John Dee Holeman
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