Sunday, March 27, 2022

VA - Hear Me Howling! - Blues, Ballads & Beyond [2010] (4 x CD's)



VA - Hear Me Howling! - Blues, Ballads & Beyond [2010] (4 x CD's)

For the last half-century, Arhoolie Records has recorded and released an astounding assortment of folk, blues, Tejano, brass, string band, Cajun, zydeco, sacred steel, and any other type of non-pop music to grateful ears. In honor of the label’s 50th anniversary, head honcho Chris Strachwitz has curated a four-CD set that features his mostly unreleased recordings from the San Francisco Bay area in the 1960's. These recordings are the sound of roots music circa the 1960's in a nutshell. There are blues from well-known artists such as Lightnin’ Hopkins and more obscure players like Jesse Fuller. There’s folk music from Dylan cohort Bob Neuwirth and Debbie Green, and talking blues from Merritt Herring. Louisiana makes an appearance with cuts from the Hackberry Ramblers, John Simien and Clifton Chenier.

The recording settings vary from sessions in Strachwitz’ living room to coffeehouses to folk festivals, which contributes to what is striking about these tracks: their intimacy. When K.C. Douglas and Clarence Van Hook sing the rough-but-right-on harmonies of “I Know You Didn’t Want Me,” it is easy to hear their surprise at how good it sounds and how much fun they are having. When Skip James, one of the more plaintive and eerie bluesmen, sits down at the funky piano in Strachwitz’ house to sing “Low Down Dirty Shame,” the deep feeling behind his music is inescapable. And in some tracks, such depth hits the musicians as strongly as the listeners. When Country Joe and the Fish’s 1965 spasm/hokum band version of “I Feel Like I’m Fixin’ to Die Rag” comes on, you can hear the band realizing how much conviction they have behind this song, and how it could become the anthem.

On some songs, the guitars or pianos are not fully tuned and some voices warble in the melodies, but this rawness elevates the music. In addition, the CD's come with a book of essays about the musicians and their circumstances, illustrated with great candid pictures of the players and the scenes in which they flourished. If you are a fan of this music, these tracks will be a confirmation of these musicians’ greatness. If you’re on the fence, this compilation could be a revelation. (


Pt.1    Pt.2  


Track lists


01 Jesse Fuller Hump In My Back 2:45

02 Jesse Fuller Brother Low Down 2:41

03 Skid Band Berkeley's Junko Partner 4:03

04 Skid Band Tight Like That 3:38

05 Bob Mielke's Bearcats Moose March 3:21

06 Big Joe Williams Highway 49 3:49

07 Big Joe Williams & Mary Oakland Blues 2:45

08 Big Joe Williams Greystone (Alameda County Jail 2:32

09 K. C. Douglas & Band I Know You Didn't Want Me 2:14

10 K. C. Douglas Night Shirt Blues 2:07

11 K. C. Douglas Stop Time 1:25

12 K. C. Douglas Hear Me Howling 2:09

13 Lonnie Johnson Stand Alone Blues 3:23

14 Lonnie Johnson Brenda 4:11

15 Sonny Tery Changed The Lock On My Door 3:13

16 Bukka White Bald Eagle Train (Take 1) 11:44

17 Lightning Hopkins Tom Moore's Farm 5:11

18 Lightning Hopkins Up On Telegraph (Avenue) 3:12

19 Mercy Dee Lady Luck 2:46


01 Country Joe And The Fish I Feel Like I'm Fixin' To Die 2:58

02 Toni Brown You Turned Your Back 2:19

03 Toni Brown How Could I Stand It 2:41

04 Toni Brown Don't Forget Me, Love 2:03

05 Crabgrass Charles Giteau 3:32

06 Joy Of Cooking Midnight Blues 4:07

07 T. A. Talbott Depression Gone From Me 2:57

08 T. A. Talbott Mr. Brakeman 3:52

9 Debbie Green Who's Going To Be My Man? 4:21

10 Bob Neuwirth Come See 4:25

11 Janet Smith Lady Gay 3:16

12 Merritt Herring Talking Protest Blues 2:36

13 Alice Stuart Black Jack David 2:04

14 Perry Lederrman Eventually 2:20

15 Perry Lederrman Impressions Of John Henry 6:26

16 Barbara Dane Deportees 5:50

17 Hackberry Ramblers Big Texas (Grand Texas) 3:49

18 Hackberry Ramblers Jolie Blonde 3:01

19 Hackberry Ramblers Turtle Tail 2:17

20 Fondettes The Beatles Are In Town 2:02


01 Mance Lipscomb Willie Poor Boy 3:24

02 Mance Lipscomb The Titanic 3:34

03 Mance Lipscomb Mean Boss Man 2:55

04 Mance Lipscomb Sugar Babe 3:19

05 Rev. Louis Overstreet Working On A Building 6:38

06 Rev. Louis Overstreet The Old Ship Of Zion 3:39

07 Rev. Gary Davis I'm A Soldier 6:08

08 Rev. Gary Davis Floor Sweepin' Rag 5:06

09 Rev. Gary Davis Courtin' Boy 5:41

10 Fred McDowell Shake 'em On Down 3:10

11 Fred McDowell Louise 6:05

12 Fred McDowell Write Me A Few Of Your Lines 3:18

13 Skip James Lown Down Dirty Things 4:04

14 Skip James 22-20 Blues (Mr. Kress) 3:36

15 Skip James Sea Walking Jesus 4:07

16 Skip James No Special Lover 4:57

17 Skip James Peace In The Valley 4:29


01 Vern & Ray Sweetheart You Done Me Wrong 2:34

02 Vern & Ray The Touch Of God's Hand 2:59

03 Big Mama Thornton 'fore Day In The Mornin 5:00

04 Big Mama Thornton Ball And Chain 5:34

05 Big Mama Thornton Hound Dog 4:55

06 John Semien & The Opelousas Pl Monsieur Leonard 3:07

07 John Semien & The Opelousas Pl Chi Ca Nai (Slow Drag) 2:55

08 John Semien & The Opelousas Pl Bye Bye Rosa 2:32

09 Clifton Chenier Mr. Charlie 3:21

10 Clifton Chenier Louisiana Rock 2:54

11 Notes From The Underground What Am I Doing Here? 2:19

12 Stanley Willis To Be A Thief 4:38

13 Now Creative Arts Ensemble Pretty Good 8:31

14 Jerry Hahn In The Breeze 5:38

15 Smiley Winters To 'trane (AKA Two Trains) 9:20

16 Sonny Simmons The Beauty Of Isis 6:51




  1. What a treasure of music BB. Thank you so much again.
    Big hug. N

    1. Hi Nigel de Vere.
      You're very welcome. It is a sensational box set.


  2. Replies
    1. Hi Patrick.
      Hope all is well and you will enjoy this set.


  3. Looks interesting BB, thanks

    1. Thanks puw.
      This is a really great set.Enjoy!