The Cotton Exchange is a terrific vinyl record subscription service that delivers 8 LPs/year of rare, historic, or unreleased blues music right to your door. Recent releases have included Bukka White, Otha Turner, and Skip James! Exquisitely-curated by my dear pal and DIY musicologist David Katznelson with partner Barbara Bersche, who also collaborated on the Grammy-nominated "Alan Lomax In Haiti" box in 2010, every album includes detailed liner notes along with the 180-gram platter. For people like me who dig vinyl, the blues, or music history generally, The Cotton Exchange is a an immersive, educational, and inspirational experience disguised as a record club. It's $100 including shipping for 8 records, a totally fair price in my opinion. The latest release comes straight from the Mississippi Hill Country: "Feelin' Good" by Jessie Mae Hemphill (1923-2006).
Here's what David had to say about "Feelin' Good":
We were fortunate enough to meet Jessie Mae on several occasions, at the yearly Turner Family picnic and at her house in the deep Hill Country. At that point, her stroke prevented her from playing anything but an accompanying tambourine, but she still had the smile that she was known for (just look at the cover of the record in front of you) and was never seen without her dog. She still commanded a presence and showed up at nearly every Hill Country event of note.
Jessie Mae came from regal blues stock (her grandfather, Sid Hemphill, had been recorded by Alan and John Lomax decades earlier) and featured a band of blues family royalty. The six-fingered drummer Abe Young, son to Drum and Fife legend Ed Young (of Ed and Lonnie Young), lays down an amazing beat with fellow percussionist and Otha Turner Rising Star Fife And Drum band member R L Boyce. The trio seem a perfect machine and create a good feel in’ groove to match the great songs on this record. And as for the tracks where she one-man-bands it: here the She Wolf marches to her own groove, exemplifying a style that she ruled until her stroke took her off of the stage.
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