Blue Monday

Podcast junkies who are also blues buffs should have The Blues File wired into their iTunes, or whatever. These short and to-the-point podcasts pack an impressive amount of information into a brief span of time, and the choice of subjects is a nice blend of the familiar and the esoteric. The most recent podcast is about as esoteric as it gets: Eddie “One String” Jones and Edward Hazelton, Los Angeles street musicians who caught the attention of a wealthy benefactor named Frederick Usher in the early Sixties. Usher sponsored the release of One-String Blues, a collection blending Hazelton’s solo harmonica with Jones’s performances on a handmade one-strong instrument similar to an African diddley bow. The album also includes a great deal of chatter that contrasts Jones’ determinedly sunny outlook with Hazelton’s notably darker temperament. I can’t say it’s something I’d want to play very often, but if you’re interested in the roots of the music this is probably as raw and as close to the original country blues as you’re likely to find. I couldn’t find any clips of Jones or Hazelton, but this video of Bill Abel performing a Muddy Waters song on his own homemade diddley bow will give you the idea.

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