Traditional bluesman Alvin Youngblood Hart performs in Memphis at the Levitt Shell in Overton Park during the Sid Selvidge Tribute Concert, 6/25/13
Alvin Youngblood Hart performs in the FedEx Blues Tent at the Beale Street Music Festival in Memphis, 5/6/12
The North Mississippi Hill Country Picnic is an annual two-day outdoor concert at which most if not all of the living hill country blues performers appear, as well as many younger artists from the hill country of Mississippi, many of whom play styles of music influenced heavily by the hill country tradition. But unfortunately, not everyone has the time or money to travel to Marshall County, Mississippi in June for the picnic, so it is fortunate that Devil Down Records has issued a North Mississippi Hill Country Picnic Volume 2 sampler, which amounts to an aural record of the 2010 picnic. There is gospel here by artists like Rev. John Wilkins and Duff Dorough. There is music on the thin line between alternative rock and country, such as “Little Hand, Big Gun” by Jimbo Mathus, or “Midnight in Mississippi” by Blue Mountain. There are aggressive, rock-influenced readings of hill country blues by artists such as Eric Deaton, Duwayne Burnside, Hill Country Revue and North Mississippi All Stars, and there are traditional blues performances by Alvin “Youngblood” Hart, T-Model Ford and Robert Belfour. Of course, no recording can perfectly capture the thrill of being present at such a history-making concert, but this sampler satisfies with consistently-good music throughout. A hidden final track is R. L. Burnside telling a joke from many years ago, like a reminder of his spiritual presence giving approval to the picnic, and this recording.
Alvin “Youngblood” Hart kicks off the opening season of the Levitt Shell in Overton Park on a chilly evening, Saturday May 14, 2011