Record Review: Little Joe Ayers

Little Joe Ayers


Holly Springs, MS

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“Junior Kimbrough’s former bassist makes his own boogie”

The deaths of Junior Kimbrough and R.L. Burnside, the two figureheads of the North Mississippi Hill Country blues style, were two severe losses for those who, like me, were excited by their progressive/regressive style. They made blues music relevant and young again. They never sang about working in the field, they just sang about bad love. They ignored the typical 12-bar-blues pattern. Instead they played a droning, forceful, one-chord stomp. To paraphrase their label, Fat Possum, it wasn’t the same old blues crap. Most outlets for this stuff are now gone. Fat Possum has become a label for new, Pitchfork-approved bands like Yuck and Band of Horses.  So now, six years after Burnside’s death, Devil Down Records is trying to get the sound back out into the world.

Having already put out a shit-hot double album by Burnside’s guitarist Kenny Brown, Devil Down is now releasing an album by one of Kimbrough’s side-men, Little Joe Ayers.  The new disc, Backatchya, is an all-acoustic affair recorded on Brown’s front porch (at one point, a cell phone goes off). Ayers does a remarkable job transferring the hypnotic and danceable elements of this predominantly electric blues style to his acoustic guitar and stomping foot. Ayers’ performances of Kimbrough’s “Keep Your Hands Off Her” and “Do The Rump” keep the pulsating groove of the originals.  Backatchya reminds us that this is dance music and not a museum piece. (Devil Down Records)

Produced, recorded, mixed and mastered by Reed Turchi

Mixed at Ardent Studios, Memphis, TN

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