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Album Review

Playing amplified blues-rock has not been a problem for Fiona Boyes, but the flexible singer/guitarist is equally proficient when it comes to providing acoustic blues — and that is exactly what she does on Live from Bluesville. In fact, Boyes plays acoustic blues exclusively on this 48-minute CD, which finds her forming an intimate trio with Tom "Mookie" Brill (lead vocals, acoustic bass, harmonica) and Rich DelGrosso (lead vocals, mandolin). Contrary to what the title suggests, this isn't a live album in the conventional sense; Live from Bluesville wasn't recorded in a club or theater in front of an audience, but rather in a Washington, D.C., studio in 2007. However, all the performances were recorded in real time — no overdubbing whatsoever — and the rugged spirit of acoustic country blues often prevails thanks to Boyes, Brill, and DelGrosso (who share the lead vocals, although Boyes' singing dominates the session). However, they don't embrace any one type of acoustic country blues exclusively. Mississippi Delta blues is part of the equation, but so are Texas blues and Louisiana blues. And occasionally, Live from Bluesville demonstrates that acoustic blues doesn't necessarily mean country blues. Howlin' Wolf's "Smokestack Lightning" is a Chess Records gem that blues connoisseurs closely identify with electric post-WWII Chicago blues, but the unplugged version offered by Boyes, Brill, and DelGrosso re-imagines the tune as acoustic blues from Chicago's pre-WWII, pre-Chess, pre-Willie Dixon era. And they also acknowledge the Windy City's pre-Chess artists with inspired performances of Sonny Boy Williamson's "Early in the Morning" and Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup's "My Baby Left Me." Clearly, this trio is well aware of the fact that the blues were alive and well in Chicago long before the seminal Chess became so influential and helped pave the way for the creation of rock & roll. But whether the influences are rural or urban, Live from Bluesville maintains a happily unplugged focus — and Boyes excels as both a singer and an acoustic guitarist.

Biography

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Fiona Boyes has made a name for herself on the blues circuit, but when it comes to the specific types of blues that she performs, the Australian singer/guitarist/songwriter has not been the least bit easy to categorize or pigeonhole apart from saying that she is blues-oriented. Listening to Boyes for an hour or even half-an-hour, one is likely to hear a very wide variety of blues or blues-related styles. Texas blues, Chicago blues, Louisiana swamp blues, Memphis blues, and Mississippi Delta blues...
Full bio
Live from Bluesville, Fiona Boyes
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