Paul Geremia
Live From Uncle Sam's Backyard
Red House Records 101
Any Paul Geremia release is a welcome event. And a live, solo setting is an excellent way to document and communicate the man's immense talent. True, Geremia's studio offerings (the last was Self Portrait in Blues, more than two years ago) are almost exclusively recorded live with no overdubs, but often feature a variety of instrumental support.

This, on the contrary, is pure Geremia, all by himself, they way he's done it live since the '60s. Live From Uncle Sam's Backyard is a pristine recording of a June 1991 show at the Cedar Cultural Centre in Minneapolis. It absolutely reflects what you'll get from Geremia live on any given evening and adds two new elements to Geremia's body of recorded work. First, it offers (in between-song banter) a glimpse of Geremia's sense of humor and reveals his obvious affection for the bluesmen who inspired him to launch a professional career as a folk/country blues performer more than 30 years ago. Second, six of the CD's 14 tunes, all stock items in Geremia's live repertoire, have not appeared on his previous releases. Best among them: Bo Carter's hilarious "Arrangement for Me Blues"; Pink Anderson's arrangement of "Ain't Nobody Home But Me," a slice of medicine-show hokum featuring a Blind Blake-styled introduction; and Blind Willie McTell's classic story, "Dying Crapshooter's Blues." The album, which also includes McTell's "Kill It Kid Rag" and "Broke Down Engine," reinforces Geremia's position as the pre-eminent interpreter of McTell's 12-string musical legacy.

The album also includes five Geremia originals, which sound right at home among the extraordinary material he covers. Favorites: "My Kinda Place" and "Something's Gotta Be Arranged," the latter featuring captivating 12-string slide.

The bottom line: Geremia, through the better part of a lifetime on the road, has assimilated the old-time country blues that he loves into a unique personal style, driven by his instrumental virtuosity and attention to detail. Those qualities are presented convincingly on Live From Uncle Sam's Backyard.

-- Bryan Powell

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Boulder, CO, USA.