Vinyl of the year: Fat Possum's "George Mitchell Collection" seven-inch series

Each$5 7-inch in this series has two vintage recordings by one artist, culled from the George Mitchell collection.

Vol. 1 – Cecil Barfield
Vol. 2 – Buddy Moss
Vol. 3 – Leon Pinson
Vol. 4 – Houston Stackhouse
Vol. 5 – Big Joe Williams
Vol. 6 – John Lee Ziegler
Vol. 7 – Othar Turner
Vol. 8 – Lonzie Thomas
Vol. 9 – Sleepy John Estes
Vol. 10 – Teddy Williams
Vol. 11 – Green Paschal
Vol. 12 – William “Do-Boy” Diamond
Vol. 13 – Dewey Corley & Walter Miller
Vol. 15 – Bud White
Vol. 16 – George Henry Bussey
Vol. 17 – Jim Bunkley

‘George Mitchell doesn’t just get the blues, he has to go out and find them. Thanks to his efforts, fans of authentic country blues have been able to hear the real deal without making the kind of road trips required of a dedicated producer, editor, musicologist, and folklorist. The listener who knows the real cosmic purpose of a bottleneck, knife blade, or small metal tube should drool over an account of Mitchell’s exploits in the Deep South: “That night Mitchell returned to Burnside’s place with a case of beer and some whiskey. Ten months later, Burnside had his first release.” “George Mitchell was out roaming the South, scouting for stylistically eccentric blues musicians during the late ’60s and ’70s,” summarizes another report. The previously mentioned performer was R.L. Burnside, a bluesman of particular delight in an era when death’s scythe seemed to be severely limiting the ranks of such unique senior statesmen. Mississippi Joe Callicott and Jimmy Lee Williams are other artists who Mitchell brought to light in a big way as a result of his research trips; he is considered a specialist on the subject of Callicott. Credits for Mitchell can also be found on recordings of more famous performers in this genre, including Furry Lewis and Skip James, his involvement ranging from recording new material to, in the latter case, fine-tuning a reissue. Mitchell, who worked quite regularly with the Fat Possum label, presented an annual folk festival in Columbus, MS. He also published a book, Blow My Blues Away, which has been difficult to track down since its early-’70s release. – Eugene Chadbourne, All Music Guide

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About Jay Babcock

I am an independent writer and editor based in Tucson, Arizona. In 2023: I publish an email newsletter called LANDLINE = Previously: I co-founded and edited Arthur Magazine (2002-2008, 2012-13) and curated the three Arthur music festival events (Arthurfest, ArthurBall, and Arthur Nights) (2005-6). Prior to that I was a district office staffer for Congressman Henry A. Waxman, a DJ at Silver Lake pirate radio station KBLT, a copy editor at Larry Flynt Publications, an editor at Mean magazine, and a freelance journalist contributing work to LAWeekly, Mojo, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Vibe, Rap Pages, Grand Royal and many other print and online outlets. An extended piece I wrote on Fela Kuti was selected for the Da Capo Best Music Writing 2000 anthology. In 2006, I was somehow listed in the Music section of Los Angeles Magazine's annual "Power" issue. In 2007-8, I produced a blog called "Nature Trumps," about the L.A. River. From 2010 to 2021, I lived in rural wilderness in Joshua Tree, Ca.