Πέμπτη, 26 Ιουλίου 2012

Yank Rachell - Up North Blues (1941)

Yank Rachell (March 16, 1910 – April 9, 1997)

James "Yank" Rachell had a career as a performer that spanned nearly seventy years. Known primarily as one of the few masters of blues mandolin, he also played guitar, violin, and harmonica. His guitar and mandolin playing on John Lee "Sonny Boy" Williamson's records, with his driving, rhythmic style on the mandolin and his cropped, guitarlike phrases, were certainly an influence on a lot of musicians.

A gifted and innovative songwriter, Rachell's hits of his own were 'reworked' by artists such as Jimmy Rogers and Blind Boy Fuller. "She Caught The Katy" which he co-wrote with Taj Mahal and became one of Taj's most famous tunes, became a blues standard performed in, among other places, the movie "The Blues Brothers."

He was born on a farm outside Brownsville, Tennessee, on March 16, 1910, and reportedly traded one of his family's pigs for a mandolin when he was eight years old. He taught himself to play the instrument, which probably accounts for his unique approach. As a teen he often worked house parties and fish frys with his mentor, Hambone Willie Newbern. It was at one of those parties where Yank met guitarist and singer Sleepy John Estes, and the two formed a musical partnership and friendship that lasted until Estes' death in 1977.

We will continue with that legend of the Blues in the next two posts. For the time being, we enjoy him in a song with the title "Up North Blues", recorded in 1941 (Sonny Boy on harmonica).

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