Alvin Youngblood Hart at Stillwater
A musician's musician, Alvin Youngblood Hart's praises have been sung by everyone from Bob Dylan to Eric Clapton. Hart spent time in Mississippi "being around these people who were there when this music was going on," he says in a press release, and became a devout follower of traditional blues and other American music, including the guitar rock of the '60s and '70s.
"He strikes me as a highly authentic bluesman who's not too worried about being an authentic bluesman," says Ashland musician Craig Wright, who will be opening Hart's show at Stillwater. "He's a good songwriter. I like the way he moves around music while staying close to tradition."
Hart's 1996 album debut, "Big Mama's Door," is a mixture of dug-up and new-grown blues on slide and standard guitars and banjo. His most recent release, "Motivational Speaker" in 2005, is a mix of rock, folk, country, blues and Americana. George Smith of the Village Voice wrote that Hart was "lit up 'n' lambent, burning straight to the center of the groove" on "Motivational Speaker."
In 2003, Hart's album "Down in the Alley" was nominated for a Grammy for best traditional blues album. In 2005, Hart took home the Grammy for his contribution to "Beautiful Dreamer: The Songs of Stephen Foster." The album is a collection of Foster's popular 19th century compositions ("Oh! Susanna," "Camptown Races," "Old Folks at Home") — along with some of his lesser-known parlor songs — performed by various artists.
Hart's 1999 project with producer Jim Dickinson, "Start With the Soul," was lauded as a new breed of Southern rock, and Hart shared Living Blues magazine's honor of best guitarist with Big Jack Johnson in 2001.
Hart toured as a member of Job Cain in 2003, a hard-rocking project he put together with guitarist Audley Freed (Cry of Love, Black Crowes), and he got a big break the same year opening five shows for Taj Mahal in Tokyo as a member of Kip Hanrahan's Conjure, a jazz poetry ensemble.
Wright, whose credits include jam band Cast of Clowns featuring Greg Anton (Zero), Melvin Seals (The Jerry Garcia Band) and guitarist Jeff Pevar (Crosby, Stills and Nash and Crosby, Pevar and Raymond), says the gig opening Hart's show at Stillwater came along at a good time for him.
"I've got a bunch of new songs, and actually I'd been thinking about doing some blues songs," Wright says. "The new songs aren't as much blues as they are bluesy. But Hart does a lot of bluesy tunes, so maybe it will be a bluesy show.
"I'm just going to play the best set I can," Wright says with a laugh.
Cover for the show at Stillwater is $15.