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The English Years In Concert 1977/1978



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.

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  • The English Years In Concert 1977/1978
    Hard Copy    $15.00  Item Number:  sggw155

    Artist: Stefan Grossman Publisher: SGGW CD Collection


    Product Details

    Description

    featuring Sam Mitchell, Duck Baker and Jo Ann Kelly

    I spent 20 years living in Europe traveling between homes in London and Rome. I made many friends and did countless concerts. These recordings were done between 1977 and 1978. They present my playing with Sam Mitchell, Duck Baker and Jo Ann Kelly. The Country Blues were popular in Britain as well as throughout Europe, Australia and the USA. It was a very special time. 

    Track Listing: (click on tracks for mp3 sound samples)

    1. Oh, Babe Ain't No Lie
    Stefan: guitar, vocal
    2. Bermuda Triangle Exit
    Stefan: guitar
    3. I'm So Glad
    Stefan: guitar, vocal
    4. Requiem For Patrick Kilroy
    Stefan: guitar
    5. Danish Drone
    Stefan: guitar, Duck Baker: guitar
    6. Mississippi Swamp March
    Stefan: guitar
    7. I'm Satisfied 
    Stefan: guitar, vocal
    8. Goin' To Brownsville
    Stefan: guitar, Jo Ann Kelly: vocal
    9. Special Rider 
    Stefan: guitar, Jo Ann Kelly: vocal
    10. Someday Baby
    Stefan: guitar, Jo Ann Kelly: vocal
    11. Twelve Sticks
    Stefan: guitar
    12. Moon Goin' Down
    Stefan: guitar, Sam Mitchell: guitar, Jo Ann Kelly: vocal
    13. Pallet On Your Floor 
    Stefan: guitar, Sam Mitchell: guitar, Jo Ann Kelly: vocal

    Review: Since the beginning of the blues revival in the USA and Europe in the 1960s, young white American musicians infatuated with the black blues had a distinct advantage over their counterparts across the Atlantic: they could seek out and learn firsthand from the original elder African American musicians as apprentices, disciples, and even band mates. There are many examples of masters passing on to their apprentices the tunings, slide and fingerpicking, and singing styles, indirect lineage to the earliest blues. One of the very best disciples was and is Stefan Grossman, master of all acoustic guitar folk blues, who was a student of Rev. Gary Davis. Grossman may well be one of the most influential guitarists when you consider the sheer number of people who learned guitar from his tutorials, directly or indirectly. There has always been sort of a friendly rivalry between white British and American post blues revival musicians, Sonny Boy Williamson famously said of the Europeans, "They want to play the blues so bad ... and they plays 'em so bad," but it's not really true. Nobody could surpass the British Isles in adoration for the blues, and when it comes to old-style prewar country blues, they had some superlative players-Irish virtuoso Rory Gallagher and Englishman Sam Mitchell, to name but two.

    This CD features Stefan Grossman, who spent two decades in Europe reigning as folk blues guitar king, in concert between 1977 and '78. When he first went over to England, he arrived as an instant star and making quite the buzz as one of the world's best practitioners of the acoustic prewar blues-with exquisite virtuosity, as this CD demonstrates. He could play it all and knew it all. even if he was white, which was counterintuitive to European thinking. Name the African American country blues master of the 1930s and Stefan Grossman had him down pat. In the CD liner notes Ian Anderson, the editor of Folk Roots (not Jethro Tull's flutist), reminisced: "Grossman) basically said that these British guitar chappies .. . couldn't play 'real' blues. Thus he had to come here to show us a trick or two." Well, indeed, so he did! 

    This concert CD proves that Stefan Grossman was and is one of the foremost practitioners of the country blues. He was joined by Duck Baker on Danish Drone and by the late great Sam Mitchell on Moon Gain' Down and Pallet on Your Floor. On both of those tracks and Goin' to Brownsville. Special Rider, and Someday Baby. the incomparable late English singer Jo Ann Kelly joined in: she was one of the most magnificent post blues-revival country blues singers, right up there with Bonnie Raitt, Maria Muldaur and Rory Block. This album is a treasure of the country blues revival and a wonderful documentation of Grossman in his prime with amazing English friends. People should check out Sam Mitchell, who was just one of the finest of the new generation acoustic folk blues singer/guitarists.

     

    This CD illustrates that Grossman, the dedicated disciple of the original masters, influenced generations of the acoustic blues guitarists in Europe and the whole world, for that matter. - Frank Mathesis/Living Blues

     

    Review: And the crowd goes wild! In case you hadn't known, Stefan Grossman was once a rock star throughout Europe, driving enraptured spectators bonkers through the 1960s and '70s with absolutely nothing more than an acoustic guitar. With it, the country bluesman from the backwoods of Brooklyn had an unplugged way of inciting audiences to roar after making Skip James' "I'm So Glad" ring out like a Delta symphony on the run or prettily dancing his own "Mississippi Swamp March" around onstage. If you can't get in touch with his longtime chums Eric Clapton or Pentangle's beardy bard John Renbourn to vouch, then "The English Years in Concert" is perfect proof. Flashing back to '77/'78 London, this especially strong live set of songs and instrumentals works like a charm in justifying how hot of a commodity the young American import was. Listen to that thunderous eruption once the four-hands-played-by-only-two-hands "Bermuda Triangle Exit" touches down. That's rock-star approval. With impeccable chops and creativity which were personally vetted by many of the music's iconic inventors - Son House, Rev. Gary Davis, Fred McDowell, etc - Stefan was the Mack Daddy, whether drearily draping "Special Rider" in black crepe, bottlenecking "Someday Baby" using Fred's blueprints, or convulsing Charlie Patton's "Moon Goin' Down" with the able assist of guitarist Sam Mitchell and Britain's vibrato answer to Memphis Minnie, Jo Ann Kelly. And Grossman's still conquering the UK, on-tour, to this day. - Dennis Rozanski/Blues Rag

    Review: There are few people in the colorful world of Country Blues guitar who have spent so much of their life in absolute dedication to the subject. Ian Anderson, editor of Folk Roots magazine, wrote of Stefan Grossman's arrival in the UK in the 1960s: "Trumpeting his arrival here with a Melody Maker interview which, basically, said that whilst these British guitar chappies of the Jansch/Renbourn ilk were jolly talented, they couldn't play 'real' blues. Thus he had come here to show us a trick or two." After spending 20 years in Europe before going home, he showed a lot of tricks to a lot of players. Judging by these two collections, Grossman knows not one or two, but a whole bag of tricks. He's even credited with showing Clapton a couple of moves, and when you realize that Grossman's own teacher was the Rev. Gary Davis, and he hung out with Mississippi John Hurt, Son House, Bukka White and Skip James (among others), then you'd expect a feel for the frets like no other musician, and you'll therefore not be disappointed. 

    The English Years concert CD covers 1977-78, and is terrific for many reasons, especially as he is not only joined on stage by Duck Baker and Sam Mitchell, but on six of these 13 tracks the vocals are taken by arguably the greatest female blues vocalist Britain ever produced - the late Jo Ann Kelly. Stand out tracks are I'm So Glad, Mississippi Swamp March, Special Rider and Pallet on Your Floor. - Roy Bainton/Blues Matters!

    Review: Stefan Grossman is no stranger to any guitar fan. You'd be hard-pressed to name someone as committed to the guitar - mastering it, teaching it, promoting it - as Grossman, and his Stefan Grossman's Guitar Workshop label and Vestapol Videos feature an abundance of the instrument's greats. The live performances on "The English Years" date from 1977-78 and feature Grossman alone on seven tunes, in the company of Duck Baker, Sam Mitchell, and Jo Ann Kelly on the remaining six.

    By all accounts, when Grossman first ventured to England a decade prior, people definitely stood up and took notice. As he says in the notes (of legends like Mance Lipscomb, Skip James, Fred McDowell, Rev. Gary Davis, and Son House), "I could play their styles to a T, because I'd study it like a college professor." That might sound like bragging - until you press Play and hear him move from Travispicking to Davy Graham to a version of James' "I'm So Glad" that could scare Cream. Grossman has an uncanny ability to come up to another's level (and, indeed, push his partner to greater heights) when collaborating with stylistically diverse six-stringers - as illustrated on his "Friends Forever" CD. It also featured Mitchell and Baker, as well as John Renbourn, Larry Coryell, and others. The late slide specialist Mitchell teams with Grossman on two selections of five "English " tracks featuring Kelly's amazing voice. England's premier female blues singer succumbed to cancer at 46, approximately 12 years after these recordings were made - making this package all the more special. - Dan Forte/Vintage Guitar

     

     

     

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