One simply cannot talk about people of importance to this genre without tipping the hat to the most masterful musician, teacher, musicologist, producer, folklorist and preservationist of the traditional blues. By now, Stefan Grossman is a venerated, iconoclastic and respected acoustic blues figure of mega-proportions. He came out of the vibrant Greenwich Village, New York, 1960s scene around Washington Square, where so many American folk and blues musicians launched their careers. His friend and occasional collaborator, Steve Katz, formerly of the Even Dozen Jug Band, the Blues Project and Blood, Sweat & Tears, once half jokingly told this writer: “There we were, all these New York Jews playing the black blues.” Indeed, the blues had a strong influence on young New Yorkers during the folk revival. These musicians, Stefan Grossman, Happy & Artie Traum, Danny Kalb, and many others, in turn had a powerful influence on the acceptance of the blues by the American baby boomer generation at large; and, they significantly helped to launch the folk, roots & blues revival, thereby reinvigorating the careers of many original blues musicians whose careers had waned.
Many people know Stefan Grossman as the paramount teacher and entrepreneur in what has become the world’s largest “blues school”, Stefan Grossman’s Guitar Workshop. He is one of the most skilled guitarists in the genre, having been a student of Rev. Gary Davis in New York City. He also picked up lessons directly from Mississippi John Hurt, Son House, Skip James, Mississippi Fred McDowell, and others.
Recorded in 1980, this album presents guitar solos as well as arrangements with Sam Mitchell and Tony Roberts.
“What Stefan achieved with the blues is a musical ideal that other folk musicians, working in different fields, might have followed if they'd had the skill or the imagination. From his base in Rome, he spends part of his time writing books on the early blues and guitar technique, part of his time touring, and part of his time writing. His songs are ‘totally blues influenced’, he insists, ‘though some may not sound like it. Some may sound like jazz or Bach, but it's blues-influenced, because that's my base, that's where I learned about music’. At a Stefan concert, one might hear John Hurt's ‘Satisfied And Tickled Too’, Rev. Davis' ‘Candyman’, medleys of ragtime styles, all mixed with Stefan's highly individual compositions. He's written everything from childrens' songs to bleak, surreal ballads, and a whole variety of instrumentals. He moves from the traditional to the experimental, and back again, in a way that British traditionalists, with only one or two exceptions, find quite unthinkable.” – Robin Deselow (from The Electric Muse, 1980)
All tunes except From Berne to Perth have been transcribed and included in a pdf tab/music booklet on the CD.
Track Listing: (click on tracks for mp3 sound samples)
1. Thunder On The Run
2. The Assassination of John Fahey
3. From Berne To Perth
4. Medley: Sergeant Early's Dream & Red Haired Boy
5. Blind Mary
6. Callahan's Hornpipe
7. Pretty Girl Milking A Cow
8. Peak's Puzzle
9. Kicking Up The Dust
10. Medley: St. Andrews & The Fiddler's Contest
11. Silver Swan
12. Medley: Billy In the Lowgrounds & Greenfields Of America
Review: Thunder On The Run, originally issued in 1980, ranks among [Grossman's] most ambitious, envelope-pushing albums. Though Stefan states that his songs are "totally blues influenced," the slant here is decidedly Celtic, mixing originals with hornpipes and the haunting "Blind Mary" - the latter from the pen of famed Irish harpist/composer Turlough O'Carolan.
The opening title track finds Grossman’s bouncy fingerpicking shadowed by Tony Roberts' saxes and flute, before it left-turns into an electric slide solo by the late Sam Mitchell. [Duck] Baker shows up on three tracks, including "Kicking Up The Dust," which finds the pair swapping solos in 1/4 time. And the original tablature booklet is replaced by a pdf, in case you want to attempt this at home. – Dan Forte/Vintage Guitar