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Stag-O-Lee (STAG0046)

Miss Maebelle, Do The Romp, Coal Black Mattie, That’s No Way To Get Along, Work Me Baby, Catfish Blues/I Feel Good Little Girl, Come On In, Chicken And Gravy

In 2002, street-singing one-man band Richard Johnston teamed up with Mississippi Hill Country bluesman friends, Cedric Burnside, Robert 'Nighthawk' Tooms, David 'Junior' Kimbrough, Jesse Mae Hemphill and others, to produce this corking album.

Across eight extended tracks, Johnston breathed new live into a number of country blues and Mississippi Hill Country favourites with his raw rhythms and hypnotic delivery, principally led by his own guitar, drum and washboard combination.

Each track is a little gem, from the rollicking boogie of the opening Miss Maebelle all the way through to the closing nursery rhyme-like Chicken And Gravy, featuring the enjoyably aged vocals of Jesse Mae Hemphill. In between these, Johnston goes for everything - from a full band support on Do The Bump, allowing him plenty of  space to weave his trance-like guitar riffs, to a more conventional (but no less impressive) solo guitar take on That's No Way To Get Along, the Robert Wilkin's favourite. Elsewhere, the stunning Coal Black Mattie sounds like a full band work-out but he is (apparently) demonstrating his one-man band talents to full effect by holding it all together himself. He must have more hands than an octopus to be able to do all this alone.

Quite why this funky, boogie-licious album has been unavailable for so long is a mystery.  Thankfully it is now back in print and open for us to embrace all over again.

Review Date: April 2014

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