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Somebody Told the Truth

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Album Review

The acoustic duo's first album in three years doesn't substantially alter the twosome's established game plan. But its well-recorded mix of studio and live tracks — including one with a full yet laid-back band — shows them to be at the top of their form. Combining traditional Delta and Piedmont blues and gospel classics like Robert Johnson's "Last Fair Deal Going Down" (a concert staple that finally makes it to disc), Blind Boy Fuller's salty, suggestive "Something Smells," and Skip James' "Sick Bed Blues" with their similarly styled originals proves they are not stuck in the past, even as they revel in visiting and interpreting it. John Cephas' "The Pimp in the Pink Suit," with its cowboy chorus, could just as well have been written in the '30s. Phil Wiggins shines on "Burn Your Bridges," an instrumental showcase for his lip-shredding harmonica gymnastics that is as compelling as anything from the great Sonny Terry, an obvious influence. While the torchy, supper club jazz of "Darkness on the Delta" (featuring Tal Farlow on guitar) is an interesting tangent, it doesn't really fit with the rest of the more roots-oriented material. But with their devotion to authentic ragtime, folk, deep blues, and religious music, Somebody Told the Truth is another uncompromising entry into Cephas & Wiggins' exceptional catalog.

Biography

Formed: 1984 in Bowling Green, VA

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s

The duo of acoustic guitarist John Cephas and harpist Phil Wiggins enjoyed a partnership spanning several decades, during which time they emerged among contemporary music's most visible exponents of the Piedmont blues tradition. Both were born in Washington, D.C., although Wiggins was a quarter century younger than his partner; they met at a jam session in 1977, and both performed as regular members of Wilbert "Big Chief" Ellis' Barrelhouse Rockers for a time prior to Ellis' death. Their music, rooted...
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Somebody Told the Truth, Cephas & Wiggins
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