Don't fence him in



I’ve been hearing raves about this guy for the longest, and I’m ashamed to say right out here in the open that I never heard much of Alvin Youngblood Hart’s stuff until now. Or if I did, I wasn’t paying anywhere near the sort of attention that I should have been. Having just finished listening to this album in full, I now understand what all the fuss is about. It’s no mystery why Living Blues magazine has called him “a brilliantly versatile and eclectic musician and songwriter.”

It’s also no mystery why Hart isn’t receiving the much wider acclaim that he deserves. Like other musicians who are too talented, too restless and too creative to remain content standing in one place for too long, Hart ranges from the easily identifiable sounds of basic blues, to country and western, to jazz, to whatever other ideas he manages to cook up in his head and then record. In short, although he’s most often lumped in the blues-roots category, Hart is another one of those artists — like Danny Gatton or Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown — whose abilities and interests simply cannot be constricted for the convenience of the marketers and penny-counters.

The best way to support musical diversity is to blow up the pigeonholes. The best way to blow up the pigeonholes is to lift up cats like this.

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

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