Ragged & Dirty
Bennett Harris will knock your socks off with his traditional American fingerpicking guitar blues. He has mastered the old-time method, but this recording is surely no dusty museum relic...The performances are imaginative, passionate, lively, deeply felt, and vividly rendered. Alongside tunes by classic blues artists such as Leadbelly, Bessie Smith, Blind Boy Fuller, etc., Bennett also performs his own original tunes within the idiom. Where did a NYC kid learn old-timey blues? Although it's the historical foundation of the 60s rock music Bennett was immersed in growing up, getting to the original sources took a little elbow grease. Inspired by Jorma Kaukonen's fancy fingerpicking with early Hot Tuna, Bennett eventually found a guitar tutor in local bluesman Ian Buchanan. Ian had learned the ragtime Piedmont picking style directly from Rev.Gary Davis.(They all lived in Queens County!) Coincidentally, Ian had also been the oracle who taught Jorma this same picking technique years earlier, while they were college roommates in Ohio. It was seeing John Hammond perform up-close on MacDougal Street, wailing on National steel slide guitar and harmonica, that pushed Bennett to add those gritty blues tools to his own arsenal. He subsequently spent a great deal of time wood-shedding slide on National steel and self-accompanying harmonica. 'Ragged & Dirty' combines various blues elements, expanding on traditional sounds with the addition of Gary Brooks on bass, drummer Eric Halvorson, Richard Barbera on a jazzy fiddle, George Christ on harmonica, Tim Ouimette on brass, George Bitzer on piano...masterful musicians all. Cecilia Kirtland and Cliff Hackford make cameo appearances. This masterful recording--engineered by Mike Nugent and mixmaster Michael Speranza--presents a rich musical environment, full of good spirit and imaginative instrumental interplay. And it's great fun!