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<i>Bluesville</i> Brings Vintage American Blues to Life on CD - 2003-03-05

In the mood for some blues? Then look no further than a new CD of vintage American blues called Bluesville. Ironically, Bluesville was released by a leading jazz label.

Most of the songs on Bluesville were recorded during the heyday of acoustic blues in the early 1960s, including Whistlin' Pines by Mississippi singer and guitarist "Big" Joe Williams. The song features a little-known blues harmonica player Paul Butterfield.

Widely recognized for its vast collection of jazz and R&B titles, Fantasy Records also owns the rights to hundreds of classic blues tunes. When Fantasy acquired Prestige Records in 1972, it also obtained the catalog of Prestige subsidiary, Bluesville. No small enterprise, Bluesville released 79 albums between 1959 and 1963 by a roster that included blues veterans Memphis Slim, Jimmy Witherspoon and Lightnin' Hopkins.

From the new blues compilation Bluesville, singer and guitarist Lightnin' Hopkins with Got To Move Your Baby.

Bluesville claims three great ladies of blues, Ma Rainey, Odetta and Alberta Hunter, heard on this 1961 rendition of W.C. Handy's Saint Louis Blues.

Memphis singer Alberta Hunter was working as a nurse when Bluesville reunited her with pianist Lovie Austin on Saint Louis Blues. Hunter was active on the blues circuit in the U.S. and Europe until her death in 1984.

In 1964, Chicago-based vocalist and pianist Otis Spann proclaimed that "The Blues Never Die."

Like many Delta blues musicians, Otis Spann left the American south for a better opportunity in Chicago. Spann was a longtime member of the Muddy Waters Band, which he fronted on a recording of The Blues Never Die that features Waters on guitar and James Cotton on harmonica.

Blues legends Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Willie Dixon and Albert King are probably the most famous names on Bluesville, but one of the earliest masters of blues and jazz guitar was New Orleans-native Lonnie Johnson. Johnson also proved himself a capable blues singer and composer when he recorded this 1960 hit Don't Ever Love.