Dan Pickett: 1949

Dan Pickett: 1949

After Wrath of the Grapevine, On Muddy Sava River Bank is probably the most in depth Americana based blog I've run across. You know those Document albums that come in four parts and cover the entirety of a player's career, MSRB has 'em all. Seriously. And what's more, they post 'em consecutively, so that it's relatively easy to find the volume that you're looking for. Just another wonder of the internet.

I spent a bit too much time looking over that site yesterday and stumbled upon the 1949 session that Dan Pickett set down, simply titled Country Blues (which you can buy over at Oldies.com for the ridiculous price of $2.99). But there are a number of aspects to this release that make it head and shoulders above some other obscure reissues. The fidelity on this disc is just short of amazing. There aren't any cracks, pops or sonic distractions. It's clear. And for something from '49 to sound like this, especially considering the performer, is amazing. And we haven't even gotten around to talking about the playing as of yet. We'll get there.

Apparently, Dan Pickett wasn't really Dan Pickett, though. James Founty was his birth name. He was born, raised and died in Alabama between the earliest portion of the 20th century and the late '60s, which begs the question, why wasn't he rousted when the blues revival kicked in? It's everyone's loss, regardless of the answer to that.

Pickett supposedly only recorded on a single occasion, yielding a number of all too rare 78s. There are some additional compilation appearances, though. But the confounding aspect to his career is the speculation that Dan Pickett also recorded under the name of Charlie Pickett. There's nothing but scarce conjecture, although it doesn't seem to be out of the realm of possibility.

The session that gave the world those singles, though, is compiled on Pickett's Country Blues. And as one would expect, in reading anything about the blues singer, there are heedless comparisons to other, better known guitarists. Tampa Red is usually in there somewhere, but honestly, he could probably be left out of the discussion. Perhaps certain, very specific caveat's in both guitarists' style bare some similarities, but Tampa Red seemed to be more of an entertainer in a broad sense as opposed to Pickett's wondering bluesman persona - he apparently would disappear for months at a time, only to return home without a word of explanation. But that's part of his charm.

With all of the guessing as to who Pickett was and how much he actually got down on record, there's more to be discovered about this man. Apparently, a few of his relatives were tracked down at some point in the '90s, but yielded no new information. Pickett's legacy, no matter who he is or was or could have been, is secure regardless.

The ability of this blues singer to mumble an extra line's worth of a lyric into a bar while maintaining his timing is pretty impressive. And over all, he's just a pleasure to listen to - vibrant, thoughtful and impassioned as any good blues player should be.