Monday, July 8, 2019

Mississippi John Hurt - Country Blues Artist With an Enduring Legacy

Antique Guitar
With a home base in San Diego, Brian Borg is a hiking and nature enthusiast who has explored many of America’s national parks. Another of Brian Borg’s passions in San Diego is music. He particularly enjoys pre-war blues artists such as Son House, Robert Johnson, and Mississippi John Hurt.

The latter artist was known for his subtle fingerpicking style forged in rural Mississippi of the early 20th century. Self-taught, Hurt started playing guitar at age nine on an instrument called Black Annie, and he paired up with fiddle player Willie Narmour on a series of seminal Okeh Records sessions in the late 1920s. 

Following three decades of relative obscurity, Hurt’s unique blend of blues and gospel was reintroduced to the public in 1952 with inclusion of “Spike Driver Blues” and “Frankie” on the Anthology of American Folk Music by Harry Smith. With a new generation of finger style guitar enthusiasts taking notes, Hurt was finally brought to the live stage through early 1960s appearances at the Philadelphia and Newport Folk Festivals. 

This led to an extended residency on MacDougal Street at Greenwich Village’s fabled Gaslight Cafe. At the epicenter of a growing folk music movement, Hurt hung out with and influenced artists as diverse as Buffy Saint Marie, John Sebastian, Dave Van Ronk, and Pete Seeger. This in turn influenced the course of rock, folk, and blues music throughout the 1960s and beyond.

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