Straight-Up Down-Home



Like a fair number of smaller record labels dedicated to the preservation of the blues, Earwig was founded by a blues lover who heeded and followed a "calling" to support the music as a lifetime occupation and obsession. Michael Robert Frank, President and CEO of Earwig, has released this fine two-CD collection as a celebration of his two decades of recording some of the best down-home blues artists around.

For the Detroit crowd, it's great to hear our very own Johnny "Yard Dog" Jones performing one of his own compositions, "You Can't Call the Blues." Jones, who is backed up by a strong Chicago rhythm section, was recorded here singing, blowing the harp and performing the guitar solo. Other names to look out for include Big Jack Johnson, David "Honeyboy" Edwards, Louisiana Red, Sunnyland Slim and Homesick James.

In short, this is good stuff. Still, if you're looking for a new twist on the blues, or a new interpretation of an old sound, then you're not looking for this CD. This one is for those blues lovers who like their blues uncut and straight from the source. Blues purists of the world, rejoice!

Keith A. Owens is a Detroit-based freelance writer and musician. E-mail him at