Honeyboy Edwards Mississippi Delta Bluesman

Debates about authenticity swirl around blues perhaps more than any other genre of North American music, but it's probably not one that going to affect David "Honeyboy" Edwards. At 85, Edwards is not only one of the very last surviving Delta bluesmen of his generation. He's also a living memory of Delta blues with a lifetime and career checkered with iconic moments. He got to know one of his mentors, country-blues pioneer Charley Patton shortly before Patton's death in 1934; the story goes that he was with Robert Johnson the night Johnson was poisoned in 1938; he played with Sonny Boy Williamson; and he was recorded in 1942 by Alan Lomax, himself the iconic recorder of American Folkways. The album follows suit with standards penned by Patton, Johnson and Howlin' Wolf, in addition to Edwards' own composition. This album has plenty of charm, in Edwards' straining tenor and rattletrap slide guitar - the guitar sounds like it would crumble to pieces if he plucked at the strings any harder. All of which makes for an occasionally riveting document of a genre that seems more alive the older its practitioners are. (Smithsonian Folkways)