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Case of Hurt Love

Even we have to admit that sometimes a tribute album is a good thing. Singer/songwriter Peter Case has organized the latest good thing, dedicated to the music of the great blues singer and guitarist Mississippi John Hurt. Titled Avalon Blues and slated for a June 12 release on Vanguard, the recording will feature an all-star cast of contemporary roots-rock performers, including Beck, Lucinda Williams, Steve Earle, John Hiatt, Victoria Williams, Taj Mahal, Ben Harper, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Chris Smither and many others.

Hurt was born in 1892 in Teoc, Mississippi, but moved to Avalon, Mississippi when he was just two. The self-taught Hurt became a sharecropper, but made money on the side playing with other local guitarists and fiddlers for town dances and church suppers. He was “discovered” first in the 1920s when he recorded for Okeh, but returned to Avalon shortly after. He lingered in obscurity until a “rediscovery” by blues musicians Tom Hoskins and Mike Stewart in 1963. Hurt recorded three albums for Vanguard and became a fixture on the folk/blues festival and concert circuit until his death in 1966. Despite his short time in the public eye, Hurt influenced a generation of blues and folk musicians, including Dave Van Ronk, Bonnie Raitt and Smither.

Case said that he was just 13 when he first discovered Hurt’s music in his hometown library. “I took it home and it really moved me. It was my door into blues music, like old-time American music,” Case said. He hopes Avalon Blues will have a similar effect on a new generation of listeners.

Proceeds from sales of the CD benefit the Delta Blues Museum’s Arts and Education Programs.

Originally Published