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Louis Gearshifter Youngblood | Louis "Gearshifter" Youngblood

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United States - Mississippi

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Blues: Juke Joint Blues Blues: Electric Blues Moods: Mood: Fun
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Louis "Gearshifter" Youngblood

by Louis Gearshifter Youngblood

This Mississippi bluesman has a broad range of styles into his music, from traditional songs he learned from his elders to unique takes on contemporary soul blues. His distinctive sense of humor comes through on many of the tracks as well.
Genre: Blues: Juke Joint Blues
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Juke Joint
4:23 $0.99
2. Rabbit in a Log
3:52 $0.99
3. No Working Blues
5:09 $0.99
4. A Big Change
3:17 $0.99
5. Goin' Down Slow
4:47 $0.99
6. You've Got to Hurt Before You Heal
4:39 $0.99
7. Hole in the Wall
3:35 $0.99
8. Bad Avenue
2:41 $0.99
9. Seven Sisters
6:28 $0.99
10. Meet Me with Your Black Drawers On
4:04 $0.99
11. Get Rich and Marry You
3:54 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Album Liner Notes by Scott Barretta (Living Blues magazine, Highway 61 radio show)

I first encountered Louis Youngblood in 2001 in Crystal Springs, Mississippi at the dedication of a gravestone for blues pioneer Tommy Johnson. He was playing an acoustic version of Johnson’s signature “Big Road Blues,” a song that I presumed he had been asked to learn for the occasion. I was wrong. His grandfather, Arzo Youngblood, who was an associate of Johnson as a young man, had taught Louis the song.

It seemed too good to be true—there simply aren’t any other blues artists in Mississippi who have direct connections to the early pioneers of the music. And as it turned out, Louis was neither aware of his special status nor was he in any sense a conscious traditionalist. In his vast repertoire songs by Tommy Johnson sit comfortably alongside classic Chicago blues such as “Goin’ Down Slow,” country (his original “Get Rich and Marry You”), and southern soul classics including Bobby “Blue” Bland’s “You’ve Got to Hurt Before You Heal” and Mel Waiters’ “Hole in the Wall.” Indeed, what’s ultimately most notable about Louis’ music is his embrace of whatever catches his ear.

Born on Valentine’s Day of 1953, Youngblood grew up across southern Mississippi, returning with his mother periodically to the family’s home place outside of Tylertown, southeast of McComb near the Louisiana border. In the 1930s Tommy Johnson lived there with Youngblood’s great aunt Rosa, and influenced a slew of local musicians. Young Louis initially learned guitar from Rosa’s sister Essie Mae, from whom he learned the traditional “Rabbit in a Log,” and was soon traveling down to New Orleans to visit his grandfather, whose 9th Ward home was a local blues center.

Arzo Youngblood’s partner there was Boogie Bill Webb, whose “Seven Sisters” Louis covers here, and he recalls others at the makeshift venue included Little Freddie King. Louis gained experience playing with bands during stints in Florida and the Southwest, and in the ‘70s settled in Jackson, where he played with groups including JT Express, Roosevelt Roberts, Sr. and Son, and T.C. and the Midnighters. By the ‘80s he was regularly fronting his own trio at the Queen of Hearts in west Jackson, where he still plays occasionally.

Since the mid-‘90s Louis has gained more exposure, with trips to Italy and Switzerland and slots at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and the Chicago Blues Festival. Mostly, though, he plays locally and was until recently driving a big rig, work that earned him the moniker “Gearshifter.”

This album showcases Louis’ broad repertoire, including Lefty Dizz’s “Bad Avenue” and Jeanie and Jimmy Cheatham’s party blues “Meet Me With Your Black Drawers On,” but also highlights his original songwriting. His playful approach to storytelling and wry sense of humor are reflected in “A Big Change” and “No Working Blues,” while his ability to rework material is perhaps best represented in “Juke Joint,” a funky paean to simple pleasures that builds upon the melody to “Big Road Blues” and subtly carries forward the legacy of Tommy Johnson.



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