When guitarist Alvin Youngblood Hart was a California kid, he would visit family in deep Mississippi, hearing the old folks’ stories of the mythic bluesmen like Charlie Patton. Together with his love for the screeching guitar music of the 1960s and 70s, his early exposure to this vein of ancient blues led Hart to grow into one his generation’s most creative and exciting guitar players.
Eric Clapton and Bob Dylan are fans, and Taj Mahal said “the boy has thunder in his hands.” He’s made albums with all sorts of Dickinsons, from Jim to Luther, and serves as an unofficial ambassador of gutsy, electrified Delta blues to the world at large.
While many modern blues guys trade in a glitzy, Vegas version of played-out 12-bar schmaltz, Hart represents something different, crafting sounds based in the traditions of this ancient music but realized through a indie/punk aesthetic and garage-brewed work ethic.
Alvin Youngblood Hart plays a free show tonight at the Levitt Shell.
This clip is a showcase of his talent behind an acoustic guitar and hits on such crucial Southern themes as riverboats, Charlie Patton and putting saddles on ponies.
Here we can see the same technique applied to the electric guitar. More of a gut punch than the sweetness of acoustic blues, the heritage is nonetheless recognizable.
And, finally, this one is for the guitar players. Not a song so much as a home-studio demonstration, this clip gives attention to the functioning hands of a gifted blues player. Tuned to an open chord, the guitar sings under his thumb and finger picking style.