Digging in the Dark:: Corey Harris & Henry Butler Vu-du Menz

Lately it has been hard to find gold at the end of the promo pile rainbow. If I was a cynic, I'd say something about the lack of quality of 90% of the stuff we get and ponder, "if you can polish a turd, is it still a turd?" Instead, in a glass half full type approach, I'm taking this time to revisit old records that I haven't listened to in years.

It's almost like a game, as our second bedroom is littered with discs and is like a cave when I go to work at 6:45AM. The lack of light and sleep has launched yet another new segment on herohill, that I will call Digging in the Dark.

Sadly, there will be no tight denim, no outsider's white tees and no young Courtney Cox cameos (or will thereā€¦ stay tuned!). Instead I'll randomly grab a record from the shelves and chuck it in my bag. When I get to work, I'll give a little summation about a record I probably loved at one time at have forgotten about.

Today, like Biz Markie in Picking Boogers, I most certainly picked a winner. In 2001, I made my first trek to New Orleans Jazz Fest and despite the huge names that graced the stages, the set I remember most was Henry Butler & Corey Harris. I actually walked over to the little autograph tent they set up to buy the record and get Corey to sign away.

In an old meets new, guitarist Corey Harris and piano legend Henry Butler teamed up to record Vu-Du Menz. It was a blues tribute that took on the feel of a great back porch jam session (if your back porch could fit a piano) and grew into something fantastic. The sounds are steeped with stylistic nods to the greats from New Orleans, but end up taking the blues in a new direction.

Blues guitar and piano are something most artists think they can pull of but most fall far short and that's why this record is such a hidden treasure. The duo sings with a passion you really don't hear a lot in music these days. Whether it's 30's/40's era blues, traditional gospel sounds (the vocal interplay they use on the simple two-minute Why Don't You Live So God Can Use You? is killer) or a dark look at race from the eyes of a black man in the 2000s (Harris tackles the relationship between Jefferson and his mistress - also his slave - on Mulberry Row), this album has songs well worth your time. Worst case scenario, I don't know how you could hear the rag time ditty If You Let a Man Kick You Once and not shake your money maker to the rub board.

Check out more of Corey's music on his myspace.
MP3:: Why Don't You Live So God Can Use You?
MP3:: Mulberry Row


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