Thursday, December 14th, 2017

Rollin Mill Stomp Review

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Acoustic duo Rag Mama Rag  comprises husband and wife, Ashley and Debbie Dow, who are English, but live in France.  Ashley sings and plays any number of stringed instruments, including guitars, mandolin, ukulele and bass.  Debbie adds harmonica, washboard, percussion and backing vocals.  I didn’t  know what to expect when I put this CD on , in fact if   I’m honest, I didn’t expect a lot, but life if full of pleasant surprises and Rollin  Mill Stomp proved to be one.  What we have here are 17 tracks of superb country blues, jug band music and the like, including such delights as Viola Lee Blues from Cannon’s Jug Stompers, You may leave from the Memphis Jug Band, Blind Blake’s You’re gonna quite me, plus a couple by Fuller, one by Bukka etc.

Ashley and Debbie have come up with excellent arrangements for all the tracks and Ashley has added two titles of his own to the collection, Minor Evacuation and the quasi-Hawaiian Paradise Swing featuring some super slide playing.  It has to be said that all of the guitar playing, slide or picked, is first rate throughout.  I  found out that Ashley once played with the Boze Brothers, a fine acoustic outfit of a few years back.  Debbie blows great country blues harp and uses washboard (or planche a laver as it says in the accompanying French bumf) to great effect in the arrangements, and in her hands it is a real percussion instrument rather than a novelty item.

The band apparently do all of their gigging on the continent, but I think it’s time we saw them over here.  They’d  be just as good for festivals as for smaller venues.  In the meantime, if you like acoustic down-home blues, buy this CD.

Rating 9 Michael Prince.

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