Alan Lomax, whose field recordings captured the sounds that inhabited the nooks and crannies of the world, made one of his most important discoveries in 1959. While on his â€œSouthern Journeyâ€ through Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Georgia, and North Carolina, he returned to the Mississippi Hill Country where he had spent time two decades prior and discovered a 55-year-old farmer and blues musician named Fred McDowell. He recorded McDowell at his home on a farm north of Como, Mississippi, then introduced the musician to the rest of the world.
Fred McDowell: The Alan Lomax Recordings documents this meeting with the first recordings of McDowell, remastered and exquisitely presented. Before the musician tacked on â€œMississippiâ€ to his name, his humble beginnings are rendered in a manner that incites chills. Classics like â€œShake â€˜Em On Down,â€ â€œGood Morning Little Schoolgirl,â€ and â€œWhen the Train Comes Alongâ€ emanate an in-the-moment clarity that is a testament to this bluesmanâ€™s talent and to Lomaxâ€™s recordings. The background noiseÂ that emerges â€“ laughter erupts during â€œWhen You Get Home Please Send Me a Few of Your Linesâ€ â€“ furthers the immediacy of Lomaxâ€™s work; he was in the field, finding the pulse of music in communities.
After being discovered by Lomax, McDowell enjoyed a successful career in music, playing shows, making records, and receiving nods from rock and roll greats like the Rolling Stones. While his legacy may be no secret, Fred McDowell: The Alan Lomax Recordings is a breathtaking snapshot of where it all began. It is the closest thing to being there.
Fred McDowell: The Alan Lomax Recordings is out now on Global Jukebox.