Cotton Exchange: Mississippi Hill Country Blues radio show


Last weekend, I sat in on The Cotton Exchange radio show on San Francisco's "KUSF In Exile Archive." I didn't actually say anything, I just listened intently to host David Katznelson play his favorite recordings of Mississippi hill country blues. Compared to Delta blues - which most people hear in their heads when you say "blues" - hill country blues is characterized by a distinctive driving rhythm and minimal chord changes that give it more of a droney, trancey feel. Odd as it may seem, David and I both agreed that some hill country blues hits us right in our Velvet Underground and Spacemen 3 sweet spot. If you're not hip to the hill country sound, this archived episode of the Cotton Exchange will be a fine education. And if you already are up on it, consider this a killer compilation of essential cuts. My favorite track of the night can be heard in the YouTube video above, Junior Kimbrough and rockabilly pioneer Charlie Feathers playing "I Feel Good Again." David Katznelson's The Cotton Exchange (7-31-11)

The Cotton Exchange is also the name of David's brand new blues reissue label. It's all vinyl, of course, and subscription only. Keep your eyes (and ears) open for a Boing Boing special interview with David soon. The Cotton Exchange: A Celebration of the Recorded Blues


  1. There was a time in the mid ’90s when Fat Possum was putting out some killer blues stuff.  Thankfully they had the foresight to document Kimbrough before he croaked.  And you’re right on the money with the Spacemen 3 comparison– if Jason and Sonic Boom grew up in a family of snake-handling preachers, it would probably sound like this.

    And yes, I’m one of those people who was seriously bummed out when Porsche started using one of his songs in their commercials.

    But for me, the real deal has always been Mississippi Fred McDowell.  He was doing the droney blooz when the Spacemen boys were mere testicular specks in the groin of the cosmos:

  2. The Black Keys are heavily influenced by the Hill Country Blues and Junior Kimbrough, even releasing an album of Kimbrough covers called “CHULAHOMA”. Junior has influenced many other bands as well including Iggy and the Stooges, North Mississippi All Stars, Widespread Panic, and JJ Grey/Mofro

  3. I second the Black Keys cover, “CHULAHOMA”  (on Fat Possum records). Awesome album and includes a “thank you” track from Junior’s widow.

  4. Also check out the albums by Jonathan Kane (a drummer for Rhys Chatham) called FEBRUARY and JET EAR PARTY, which combine hill country blues and “no wave” sensibilities for some sonic/brainwave treats.

  5. Hell yes!

    A good “starter” compilation is “The Best of Fat Possum – The Early Years”. Or take a trip to the Deep Blues Festival :-).

    Bluesman T Model Ford melds this and other styles and still tours and records at age 90+.

    And if you’re in the Pac Northwest, do not miss any opportunity to see Hillstomp. Besides their own awesome songs, you’re guaranteed to hear some songs by the likes of RL Burnside, Mississippi. Fred McDowell, …

  6. Fat Possum’s “You See Me Laughin'” is an excellent documentary featuring Kimbrough and all the outstanding old bluesmen Fat Possum recorded (T-Model Ford, Asie Peyton, Burnside).

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