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A Tribute To Yank Rachell
Artist:  Various
Label: Yanksville Records

"If anyone don't like the blues, they got a hole in their soul"   Yank Rachell 

Somewhere halfway through this fine tribute to an under-discovered blues treasure, John Sebastian tells the story of how a friend called him to let him know he’d found

Yank Rachell.   If you haven’t heard the name before, its no surprise.  Even die-hard blues enthusiasts haven’t heard of him.   Yank Rachell was the most important blues mandolin player frequenting the popular jug bands of the time.   He collected and wrote songs that equaled the best blues of his time comparable to Robert Johnson, Son House and Sonny Boy Williamson.  His most active time was during the 30’s before his music became secondary to making a living in factories and on farms.  He was re-discovered during the folk-blues revival of the early 60’s touring for a while with Sleepy John Estes.   Prior to his last days on the planet in 1997, Yank did some fine sessions with John Sebastian among others who owe so much to his work during the early part of the 20th century.   Among songs he was involved with that were most popular were “Milk Cow Blues,” “Divin’ Duck,” and “She Caught Katy,” for which Yank received royalty checks for use in The Blues Brothers.  

This tribute cd does Yank justice.  Including John Sebastian, David Grisman and Mike Seeger, the arrangements are beautifully blended doing service to the song and paying homage to Yank’s formidable mando playing.   The material and performances are consistently strong.  Key tracks include “She Caught Katy,” “Texas Tony,” “Tappin’ That Thing,” with a great story by Sebastian, and a touching, “Freedom,” Yank’s favorite gospel song recorded with his granddaughter, Sheena Rachell.  A fitting way to end a tribute with a gospel song, which, after all, is the roots of country blues.  

Terry Roland 


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