This is a collection of music that was composed around rhythm rather than the melody, allowing the tonal and emotional center of the music to be established by the percussion and rhythm. Once the rhythms were complete, I brought in the other musicians who helped to reveal the natural form of each piece. The musicians who took part in this project all have a deep respect for rhythm and the interplay of the melodic instruments with the percussion. Many times I abandoned my initial ideas as new elements - beats and instruments - were added. I didn't want the music to be forced into any pre-conceived images I might have had and confining it to one reference point. That is why I decided to bypass conventional titles for any of the pieces. I want the listener to start in a neutral space of his or her own experience."Greg Ellis
Freedom Highway, Grammy Award–winner and 2017 Grammy nominee Rhiannon Giddens’ follow-up to her highly praised debut album Tomorrow Is My Turn, will be released by Nonesuch Records on February 24, 2017. The record includes nine original songs Giddens wrote or co-wrote while she and her band toured after Tomorrow Is My Turn’s 2015 release, along with a traditional song and two civil rights-era songs, “Birmingham Sunday” and Staple Singers’ well-known “Freedom Highway,” from which the album takes its name (track listing below). Giddens and the band will tour the U.S. in the spring; details will be announced shortly. Freedom Highway may be preordered now from iTunes or rhiannongiddens.com and nonesuch.com, where purchases include an instant download of the title track as well as a limited-edition, exclusive print signed by Giddens.
Like everything on Memphis Slim's album Goin' Back to Tennessee or Alvin Youngblood Hart's "Tallacatcha" (a Western swing performance worthy of Bob Wills), Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown's 1975 Barclay album Down South in the Bayou Country completely transcends any and all attempts to confine this diverse artist within the artificial parameters of blues or any other preordained category. Consisting mostly of songs written by Hoyt Garrick, Jr., Charles Gressett, and David Craig with additional tunes by J. Loyd and Joe Stampley, this pretty parfait of country & western, Southern rock, cowboy hoedown, and electric Cajun soul music was recorded during February and March 1974 in Bogalusa, LA. Gatemouth, fresh from his tenure as Deputy Sheriff of San Juan County, NM, sounds particularly pleased to be active at the center of a project so completely infused with authentic Southern sensibilities. Perhaps the most satisfying track off of the original album is "Loup Garou." This hoodoo funk ritual with background vocals by Geraldine "Sister Gerry" Richard sounds as if it might have been influenced by Dr. John's "Loop Garoo," which had appeared on that artist's Atco album Remedies in 1970.