Rich Amerson
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Rich Amerson
Selected Songs and Stories
Alabama Folklife Association
CD
$9

"When life is big, music is big." - Richard Amerson

Many monikers suit Richard Amerson - singer, inventor, storyteller, lay preacher, drifter, jester. Tales of Amerson's artistry and creativity are legion and to this day one can still find people in and around Livingston, Alabama, who vividly recall him. No wonder, since he was relatively nomadic, slept on the ground or in a dugout if he felt like it, let his hair grow long, preached the gospel, invented unusual transportation vehicles, blew the harmonica, and sang beautifully.

Born in 1893 near Sumterville, Alabama, Amerson spun improvised tales in both song and speech. Amerson's singing style was a significant influence on Vera Hall, and folklorist John Lomax considered him to be his greatest discovery. Indeed, Amerson's recordings reveal him to be exceptionally talented and charismatic. Though he turns up on several compilations of Lomax-recorded material, most of his discography is out-of-print and very deserving of the deluxe reissue treatment, particularly his recordings for Harold Courlander. (See also Courlander's The Big Old World of Richard Creeks, which presents a fictionalized account of some aspects of Amerson's life.)

What we have here is an informal recording session featuring just what the CD title promises. Amerson sings mostly spirituals here, usually accompanied by his wife Little Bit, who really cuts loose with singing so passionate that at times she makes Rich sounds a bit reserved in comparison. Amerson also delivers some tall tales in a rapid-fire fashion, with plot twists and puns flying by, in a deep southern accent that could also function as a test of your listening comprehension before your next trip to the backroads. It is also a treat to hear his "Black Woman," which is considered by many to be among the greatest blues love songs.

Hear some of Black Woman, Didn't You Hear My Lord Call, and I Feel the Love of Jesus.

Track listing:
I Hear a Train a-Comin'
Black Woman
I Feel the Love of Jesus
Didn't You Hear My Lord Call?
Waitin' on de Salvation of de Lord
Brother Terrapin
Bullfrog and Fox
Rich's Hollow Tooth
Jesus Goin' Make up My Dyin' Bed
Wake Up Jonah
I'm So Glad I been Born Again
Dog Caught a Hog
The Draft Board