These are the first recordings made of Fred McDowell—before the folk festivals and blues clubs, before “Mississippi” was inserted in front of his name, before the Rolling Stones covered his “You Got To Move.” They’re the sound of the music McDowell played on his porch, at picnics, and juke joints; with his friends and family; occasionally for money but always for pleasure. Remastered from 24-bit digital transfers of Alan Lomax’s original tapes, and annotated by Arhoolie Records’ Adam Machado and the Alan Lomax Archive’s Nathan Salsburg, they are an illustration of the mind-blowing revelation that was Fred McDowell.
On the first day of fall, 1959, in Como, Mississippi, a farmer named Fred McDowell emerged from the woods and ambled over to his neighbor
Lonnie Young’s front porch with a guitar in hand. Alan Lomax and Shirley Collins were there recording the Young brothers’ fife and drum ensemble, as well as the raggy old country dance music of their neighbors, the Pratcher brothers, and they had no idea what to expect from this slight man in overalls. They certainly didn’t expect that Fred would soon become internationally known as one of the most original, talented, and affecting country bluesmen ever recorded.