Steve James

Art and Grit (Antone's/Discovery)

This Seventies revival sure is precious, ain't it? No, not platform shoes, coke spoons, and mirror balls: That shit was more precious than a Mentos ad the first time. I'm talking about the 1870s. Just tighten up them steel strings, trade yer amps for a banjo or two, start pickin' and strummin' away, and you'll be Asylum Street Spankin' your way to the bank in no time. People are eating this shit up. Forget Kool & the Gang and the Bee Gees, they can't get enough Scott Joplin, Buddy Bolden, and Big Bill Broonzy. Oh, well, if that's how it's gonna be, we can be thankful for Steve James, who reminds us on Art and Grit that just because a song could have come straight off a Library of Congress/Smithsonian field recording, it can still be whoop-it-up, pass-the-shine, marry-your-cousin, maw-where's-my-dentures fun. Infectious as the flu, Art and Grit is a real corker of a record. Add some alkeehol, and it's safe to say it's a real shitburner live. James may even let you talk while he sings.
HHH 1/2 -- Christopher Gray

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