Sunday, November 29, 2020

Henry Thomas: Bull Doze Blues

I thought I would choose Canned Heat's Going Up the Country, which became a sort of anthem for the Woodstock Festival in 1968. 

That was until I researched it.

Because it turns out that it is more or less a cover of a much earlier record: Bull Doze Blues by Henry Thomas, which was recorded in 1928.

Wikipedia makes Henry Thomas sound a mysterious figure:

His life and career after his last recordings in 1929 have not been chronicled. Although the blues researcher Mack McCormick stated that he saw a man in Houston in 1949 who met Thomas's description, most biographers indicate that Thomas died in 1930, when he would have been 55 or 56 years old.

A mania for 'authenticity' can be misplaced and Going Up the Country is still a great record, but I went for Henry Thomas today.

Thomas, incidentally, is playing the quills, an African-American folk instrument from the era of slavery. The sound is more or less reproduced on the Canned Heat record with a flute.

No comments: