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Elam McKnight & Keith Carter | The Last Country Store

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Blues: Delta Style Folk: Folk Blues Moods: Type: Acoustic
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The Last Country Store

by Elam McKnight & Keith Carter

Number 22 on the National Living Blues Chart for July. SIngle Produced by Grammy Winner Jimbo Mathus The Last Country Store is an exploration into Deep Roots Blues. This is the primal place of the human spirit where the REAL DEAL is
Genre: Blues: Delta Style
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Ain't Gonna Plow No More
2:43 $0.99
2. The Last Country Store
3:08 $0.99
3. Going Away (featuring Jimbo Mathus)
3:23 $0.99
4. Cadillac Women
3:43 $0.99
5. Leaving Five Points
4:15 $0.99
6. Mamma Killed a Chicken
2:14 $0.99
7. Whose Gonna Be Your
3:13 $0.99
8. Another Man Done Gone
5:43 $0.99
9. Little Boy
3:08 $0.99
10. Pig Meat (Fuller)
3:06 $0.99
11. Me and the Devil (R. Johnson)
4:30 $0.99
12. Going Away Acoustic
3:57 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes

"Their newest CD captures much of that excitement and sense of discovery. Fittingly, "The Last Country Store" owes as much of its sound to the bright, rolling hills of Tennessee as it does the dark,flat fields of the Mississippi Delta. Much of the CD centers around bad love and moving on, mixing traditional blues themes with touches of gospel and country roots. And there are many highpoints. For fans of Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee, there are numerous guitar/harmonica duo numbers. For fans of updated blues and even Americana music, there are a handful of more orchestrated, band cuts somewhat in the vein of Chris Whitley or maybe even John Mellencamp. The Last Country Store" is more heartfelt and unvarnished than many of today's slicker, big studio releases. That's not to say that the production standards aren't high. They are. But the energy level and spontaneous feel of the album is certainly boosted by the "future primitive" approach that Jimbo Mathus' studio employs. In the end, the CD accurately portrays an up-and-coming blues duo worth watching. Check it out."
---Roger Stolle---Cat Head Delta Blues & Folk Art www.cathead.biz

"Every Day I do my King Biscuit Time Show I hear, see and meet new faces in the blues field. I don't like to single any one person out, but in this case there's no way for me to skip one of the most up and coming guitar and harmonica players that will make you sit up and take notice. His name is Elam McKnight and featuring Great Britain's Mr. Keith Carter."

"Catch Elam now before a big label signs him and smoothes him out too much!"
--Dave Drury, BLUES MATTERS, The most read blues magazine in Great Britain

The Last Country Store is a further exploration by Roots Blues artist Elam McKnight into that primal part of the soul where "deep blues" lives. Joined by his new musical partner, Keith Carter (UK), they lock up together like great acoustic Blues duos from the past (i.e. Sonny Terry/Brownie McGhee, Sleepy John Estes/Hammie Nixon). The album was recorded (in part) in an old mercantile store deep in the rural delta community of Eaton TN, a place locals call "West Levy." The album is filled with different brands of acoustic blues ranging from rollicking Delta (Ain't Gonna Plow No More, Mamma Killed a Chicken), traditional Delta (The Last Country Store, Cadillac Women) to Hill Country (Leaving Five Points) to Field Hollering (Another Man Done Gone) to a new stab at the Blues (Going Away) which was produced by Grammy winning arranger/musician/producer Jimbo Mathus (Buddy Guy, Knockdown South).
McKnight and Carter wanted to do a spot location recording in the old store, a place where McKnight had grown up. " Keith and I wanted to basically record an album that sounded like we sound live. I had done a spot location with the Burnsides in Mississippi so I liked doing it. I always wanted to record an album in Kid Laster's Grocery and when I mentioned people around there said 'you better hurry up because they are tearing it down.'" The duo quickly gathered the necessary equipment and recorded a session while the store was open for business. "It was a great deal of fun, a challenge, but fun" adds Carter. After wrapping up that session, and discovering that the store was to be closed and tore down what was initially an experiment turned into a full length album and documentary about the store's owner. The album release is May 7th, 2005 Documentary Fall 2005.
Elam McKnight and Keith Carter play a mobile form of blues, which harkens back to the days of itinerant musicians, a pack of clothes and acoustic instruments in tow, who traveled the routes of the Southeastern, US to ply their talents. "Our music travels well and is suited to festivals, concert halls, large to small venues, gas stations, parking lots, front porches, back porches, street corners, brothels, country stores, flat bed trailers, living rooms, fish fries, and goat roasts."
The two began as many things do, out of sheer desperation. Desperation in that Elam McKnight had released an album, couldn't afford a band to tour with, and needed someone to go on the road with, and fast. Enter Keith Carter, virtuoso harmonica player from Great Britain. One might ask how the two crossed paths.
McKnight ran an add in a Nashville magazine for a harmonica player. "A musician friend of mine suggested the addition of a harmonica player, as I was in no position to feed, much less support a band. I said 'Man that's a great idea!' I put the ad out and it ran for two weeks. I got calls from drummers, bass players, and one trombone player. Near the end of the ad's run I was still with no harmonica player. So this guy calls me up and asks 'are you looking for a guitar player?' and out of frustration I said 'Heck no! I put an add out for a H-A-R-M-O-N-I-C-A player!' and he said 'Oh, well I know one and I will email you his phone number' and he did which lead me too Keith." The two met, played two songs, and that was all that was needed. "There was an obvious chemistry from the first notes" Carter states but there was one small snag.
Carter was living in the US on a temporary visa and needed to make more formal arrangements in order for Carter to stay. The two quickly busied themselves, and anyone else they could muster, towards securing a formal work visa. This led to six months of work securing Carter's O-1 (individuals with extraordinary skills or talents) visa, three months of which had Carter out of the country awaiting clearance of the procedure. When word came that Carter was approved he secured his papers in Great Britain, boarded a plane, and returned to Nashville, TN. "The day I landed with the visa in hand was exactly six months to the date we met and to this day we still do not know who originally called Elam about me playing harmonica."
The two hit the road playing "basically wherever we could" and worked their way into several different festivals, venues, and appearances; including 4 on the King Biscuit Radio Show, Ground Zero Blues Club (owned by actor Morgan Freeman), and during the King Biscuit Festival (Helena, Arkansas) and the Sunflower Blues Festival (Clarksdale, MS.). They have shared the stage or recorded with many living blues legends. The two have been very busy over the last year and recorded their first album and filmed a documentary about the location site of the recording, which was an old mercantile store in the rural delta of west Tennessee a few weeks from demolition. "We had talked about recording in the store as it was one of a kind and there are not many left. I love location recording and had done some on the last album in Mississippi with the Burnsides. I mentioned the idea to someone and they said "you better hurry up because they are tearing it down in two weeks.' So we got it just in time as it was torn down five days after we wrapped up recording and filming.'" The CD and documentary is set for release in the Spring/Summer of 2005.
This duo has a great deal to look forward to over the coming year and both want to continue making music in the way they love it. "Keith and I want to make the kind of stuff that is real, not contrived or some kind of gimmick, music that has some history behind it. We like it that we can play in front of thousands at a festival, a small crowd at a venue, or on a porch in front of five folks like we did at the Otha Turner picnic and this 'thing' we make, this sound never lose anything in the translation."
- Elam McKnight's debut album was played nationally and internationally on radio and charted on the Roots Music Report chart in the month of March 2003.
- Four appearances on the nationally syndicated King Biscuit Radio Show with the legendary host "Sunshine" Sonny Payne. This is the longest running radio show in America and Mr. Payne refers to the two as "one of the most up and coming guitar and harmonic players that will make you sit up and take notice."
- Ground Zero Blues Club, Clarksdale, MS (during the Sunflower Blues Festival)
- Delta Cultural Center, Helena, AR as part of their monthly concert series
- Otha Turner's Annual Picnic, Gravel Springs, MS. (Otha Turner was featured in the recently released Martin Scorsesse documentary "The Blues" on PBS.)
- Prairie Dog Blues Festival, Prairie Du Chien, WI
- 2005 2nd Annual JUKE JOINT FESTIVAL, Clarksdale, MS
- West Tennessee Appreciation of the Arts Festival
- Hopkinsville Jazz and Blues Festival, Hopkinsville, KY
- Appearance on Beale street, Memphis, TN including a live television appearance on the morning talk show "Live at 9" on CBS-WREG.
- Elam and Keith have shared the stage or appeared with the following Blues and R&B artists/LEGENDS: Robert Lockwood Junior * Pinetop Perkins * Bobby Rush * Little Milton* Sam Carr* Jimbo Mathus * Richard Johnston *The Spinners * Bernard Allison * Fat Possum recording artists Paul "Wine" Jones, Robert Belfour, T-Model Ford,Kenny Brown and Cedric Burnside (RL Burnside) * Garry Burnside* Sharde Thomas and the Rising Star Fife and Drum Band * J.D. Simo * Jonnel Mosser* Nora Jean Brusso * David "Honey Boy" Edwards * Big George Brock and the Family Band *Cedell Davis * Bobby Rutledge * Mr. Tater "the Music Maker" * Terry "Harmonica" Bean *Willie King and the Liberators * John "Lowebow" Lowe* Terry "Big T." Williams * Wesley Jefferson Band* Miranda Lousie* O.D. Harris * R.L Boyce * Rick White (Screamin Cheetah Wheelies) *

Elam and Keith have appeared at the following venues:
Ground Zero, Clarksdale, MS w/ Richard Johnston * Cathead Records, Clarksdale, MS
Hopson Plantation, Clarksdale, MS *Sarah's Kitchen, Clarksdale, MS with the Burnside Exploration
Frank Frost's Juke Joint, Helena, AR *Blue Monday Concert Series, Jonesboro, AR Arkansas State
Memphis Records, Memphis, TN * Beale Street Tap Room, Memphis, TN
Jake's Roadhouse, Atlanta, GA WRFG Radio Show *Borders Books and Music (Various Locations)
Brackin's Blues Bar, Maryville, TN *Bourbon Street Boogie Bar, Nashville, TN
It's All Good Café, Nashville, TN * Radio Café, Nashville, TN
Red's Lounge, Clarksdale,MS * Pig and Pie, Nashville, TN * Flying Saucer, Memphis, TN



to write a review

Little Johnny Kantreed

Downhome chicken-grease blues
Elam McKnight & Keith Carter have scored big time with their new CD, "The Last Country Store". With Elam's backwoods Mississippi style guitar (and I mean that in a good way!) and Keith's magnificent harp work, this CD is a must for any acoustic blues purist. Highly recommended!!!

Chris Cotton

Elam McKnight is the Real Deal
If you are making an informed buying decision based on reviews, then read this one.
Elam McKnight & Keith Carter are the real deal. No they are not going to lend creedence to the current wankin' rock blues genre of today.
They are also not going to give credit to the cheap imitators that play note for note renditions of Charlie Patton, Blind Willie Johnson, and the more famous Robert of the same last name.
Elam and Keith are also not going to roll over and play cover songs that would be ear candy for the masses.
Thats the first three stars that I give them.

The most important thing to remember(for me) when listening to traditionalists that they must have enough good sense to make the music their own and whether playing traditional blues standards in a more creative and modernized way, or writing original tunes with one foot deep in the genre(I'm talking really deep, not 40 years ago deep) is to do it with the spirit of the founders, and that in itself an anomolie, to say the least. That takes guts. Thats my 4th star to thier effort.
The reason I give them the full five star rating is because they are genuinely good folks, from TN, and are doing thier best to make great music, in light of all of the pitfalls of the music bizness, and they are doing it selflessly, and would more than likely take you into there home, give you a cold one, and play you some good live music on thier porch, if they thought you would like it.
These qualities are rare at best, and although I know Elam personally, this is not a cheap attempt at trying to endorse him because I am acquainted with him. I honestly feel that you should add this record to your collection. It is great.
Chris Cotton


THIS THING IS AS GOOD AS IT GETS! I have heard many great acoustic blues albums (Sonny Terry/Brownie McGhee, Cephas/Wiggins etc.) These guys are unlike anyting I have ever heard before. They are so diverse in their approach where the others stick to one style. You have to get this one b/c honestly it is the best acoustic blues album I have ever heard. And I have heard I think most all of them!