The heavyweight prewar solo guitarists Charlie Patton, Son House, and especially Robert Johnson, receive the lion’s share of attention from contemporary fans. However, string bands with fiddles from the twenties and thirties were enormously popular “back in the day,” with the legendary Mississippi Sheiks the reigning potentates of the form. Their expansive styles are still a joy to hear while also providing a misty window back to the pastoral roots of American music. Multi-instrumentalist and singer Kelly Carmichael embraces both genres with equal facility and boundless enthusiasm, while creating recordings that are likewise relevant and vital in the modern era.

 

No less amazing is the fact that Carmichael also plays in Internal Void and briefly the Maryland based Pentagram as a ferocious, fret-melting electric hard rock guitarist with roots in Jethro Tull, Black Sabbath and Jimi Hendrix. Born in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, on May 29, 1968 and raised up in Stone Mountain, Georgia, he was exposed to the fifties rock ‘n’ roll in his dad’s record collection but did not discover the real blues until he moved to Frederick, Maryland in 1980 and heard the recordings of Robert Johnson. Carmichael had found another “calling” and began performing solo in 2002. He released his blues debut Old Stock, in 2005 to rave reviews.

Carmichael’s second offering on Dogstreet Records, reveals his continuing mastery of authentic “olde tyme” styles ranging from ragtime to country, “hokum blues” to Delta blues and even a touch of Dixieland jazz. In sync withthe supple rhythm section of Jean-Paul Gaster (drums), Johnny “Lawless” Ray Carroll (doghouse bass), Scott Rich (trumpet),John McVey (trombone),Alexander Mitchell (fiddle) and Brian Simms (accordion), Carmichael sings with wit and expression, picks guitar and banjo, tickles the xylophone and even rattles the bones. Music this uplifting and energizing should be dispensed like a tonic to a grateful public.

 

by Dave Rubin
Guitar Edge Magazine

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