Recorded in December, 1928, for the OKeh record company, as part of their seminal 8000 ‘Race’ series. This was Mississippi John Hurt’s last commercially released side prior to his ‘rediscovery’ by Tom Hoskins in 1963. Like so many other early country and blues musicians, Hurt’s recording career didn’t survive the Depression. His entire recorded output consisted of 12 sides cut in two sessions in New York city.
Despite the relatively small output, Hurt’s work was extraordinary. His three-finger guitar playing and gentle vocal style sounded utterly unlike anything his Mississippi contemporaries were doing. His recording of Spike Driver Blues was included in Harry Smith’s landmark Anthology of American Folk Music, which helped engender interest in his work among a new generation of fans.
Hurt had long since abandoned the music business, however, having returned to Mississippi to labor as a sharecropper. The story of his rediscovery is the stuff of legend — Hoskins was guided to look for Hurt by the lyrics of this song: “Avalon’s my hometown, always on my mind.” Hurt’s appearance at the 1963 Newport Folk Festival helped launch a second career on the folk circuit, which lasted until his death three years later.
Avalon Blues (MP3)
Courtesy of Archive.org