Taj Mahal and Ry Cooder announce new album, “Get On Board: The Songs of Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee”
Taj Mahal and Ry Cooder have announced their new collaborative album, Come Aboard: The Songs of Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee.
The new album, due out April 22, is the duo’s first collaboration in more than half a century.
To celebrate the announcement, the two musicians released a new live video for the song, “Hooray Hooray,” which fans can watch below. “They were so solid. They meant what they said, they did what they did…here are two guys, a guitarist and a harmonica player, and they could sound like an entire orchestra,” Mahal said in a statement about his relationship with Sonny Terry & Brownie. McGhee.
Cooder added: “It was perfect. What else can you say?
The upcoming 11-song album features Mahal on vocals, harmonica, guitar, and piano, along with Cooder on vocals, guitar, mandolin, and banjo. And Joachim Cooder is on drums and bass.
The songs on the LP are taken from recordings and live performances by Terry and McGhee, whom Mahal and Cooder first heard as teenagers.
“Down the street away from Santa Monica. Where it was all right ‘I gotta get out of here’ is all I could think of,” Cooder added. “What are you doing, fourteen, eighteen? I was trapped. But this first disc, Climb on boardthe 10″ on Folkways, was so wonderful, I could understand the guitar playing.”
“I started hearing them when I was about nineteen, and I wanted to go to those cafes, because I heard those old guys were playing,” Mahal said. “I knew there was a river somewhere that I could step into, and once in, it would be fine. They brought me the whole package.
Mahal and Cooder originally joined forces in 1965, forming The Rising Sons when Cooder was only seventeen. The group was signed to Columbia Records but no album was released and the group disbanded a year later. The widely pirated 1960s recording sessions were finally officially released in 1992.
This new LP is the duo’s first recording since then.
Terry, who played harmonica, and McGhee, a guitarist, were both from the southeastern United States. They both had solo careers but were best known for their 45-year partnership, which began in 1939.
Their Piedmontese style of blues became popular during the folk music revival of the 1940s and 1950s, centered on New York’s thriving club scene for jazz, boogie-woogie, blues, and folk music.
Says Mahal, “You have the south on steroids when you have southern music, southern culture, southern beauty, through Brownie and Sonny.” He said McGhee was a “solid rhythm player. Really playing behind the harp like that. He would set things up. He didn’t take a lot of notes. Sonny had all the notes going around. But Brownie, he slept.
“This thing of squeezing the thumb and the index and a bit of the second finger, which I always do. I forgot where it came from,” Cooder explained. “That’s what Brownie did. I saw him do that and I said, “I think I can do it.”
Mahal said Terry was “a wizarding harmonica player”.
“Sonny had incredible pace for one thing,” Cooder added. “Making sounds with his voice and the harmonica so you couldn’t tell exactly which was which. He was good at it.
“We’ve been doing this for a while,” Cooder continued. “Perhaps we have earned the right to bring him back.”
Taj Mahal concludes. “We are now the guys we aspired to when we were starting out. Here we are now… old timers. What a great opportunity, to really come full circle.
Come Aboard: The Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee Song List:
- My baby changed the door lock
- The Midnight Special
- Hooray Hooray
- deep sea diver
- Choose a cotton ball
- Drink wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee
- What a beautiful city
- Pawnshop Blues
- Cornbread, Peas, Blackstrap Molasses
- Packing Getting ready to leave
- I won’t be moved
Photo by Abby Ross/Nonesuch