From Buenos Aires to Barcelona, Mississippi to Mauritania, Blues Around the World demonstrates the influence of the blues on musicians in every corner of the planet.
The far-reaching influence of the blues is undeniable.Putumayo World Music’s newest release,Blues Around the World,documents the trials and tribulations expressed through the blues from a global perspective. Through the course of the album you’ll meet a Catalonian “blues mama” and a Mandarin-speaking, motorcycle-riding blues poet, as well as a Mauritanian whose fans call him the “blues man of the desert.”
Despite language or lyrics, nationality or ethnicity, the blues speak to everyone. Opening the album is The Unseen Guest, who formed when an Irish musician traveled to southern India and began playing on the streets accompanied by a tabla-toting native.With the assistance of several other Indian and Western musicians,The Unseen Guest recorded their first album. “Listen My Son” is rich in vocal harmonies and unique arrangements for tabla, guitar, banjo and mandolin.
You might think that a blues singer named Big Mama must be from the Mississippi Delta,but she’ll demonstrate that you can live halfway around the world in Barcelona and still know how to sing the blues. On “No Way Out” she sings in her native Catalan language and is joined by Victor Uris,a blues harmonica player from the Spanish island of Mallorca. Big Mama’s rock star country mate, Jarabe de Palo, also makes a contribution to the album with “La Flaca” (“The Skinny Girl”), which was a huge hit in Spain and Latin America.
Another “blues mama” appearing on Blues Around the World is the legendary Bonnie Raitt. Bonnie’s career illustrates her musical explorations and includes several cross-cultural collaborations. She is featured here with longtime friend, Malian musician Habib Koité on the track “Back Around ” from her 2003 album Silver Lining. Habib was also featured on Putumayo’s 1999 release,Mali to Memphis and has released two critically praised CDs, Ma Ya and Baro, on the label. From nearby Mauritania, Amar Sundy demonstrates the kinship between West African music and the blues.
Eric Bibb, Rory Block and Maria Muldaur are no strangers to the blues. This trio of friends grew up together in New York City’s Greenwich Village during the turbulent 1960’s. Steeped in the influential folk scene and inspired by folk and blues greats Bob Dylan and Eric’s father Leon Bibb, this trio incorporates the spiritual side of the blues on “Don’t Ever Let Nobody Drag Your Spirit Down.”
Blues Around the World also illustrates why bluesmen and women are considered some of the world’s best storytellers. Taj Mahal partners with The Culture Musical Club of Zanzibar to weave a narrative of melody and rhythm on Taj’s “Catfish Blues.” The best known Brazilian blues group Blues Etílicos brings their unique Brazilian-flavored blues to the table.And, though you may not understand the language, you’ll recognize the poetry of Taiwanese blues singer and guitarist Long-ge, whose songs are immersed in the restless spirit of his native aboriginal people.Finally,recognizing the blues was born in the Mississippi Delta,Putumayo has included legendary bluesman, Otis Spann, who played piano in Muddy Waters’ band for more than 20 years.
A portion of Putumayo’s proceeds from the sale of Blues Around the World will be donated to Music Maker Relief Foundation,Inc. Music Maker helps true pioneers and forgotten heroes of Southern music gain recognition and meet their day-to-day needs.The Foundation presents America’s musical traditions to the world in order for them to flourish and be preserved for future generations.