Thursday, April 7, 2011

Cecil Barfield a/k/a 'William Robertson'

Cecil Barfield was a truly unique country bluesman with a primitive but extremely rewarding style. Born in 1922, he started playing music when he was five years old and until he was recorded by George Mitchell in 1976 he played exclusively for for his friends and relatives. Cecil was extremely superstitious and when an LP was released of some of his recordings they were issued under the assumed name of William Robertson and he wouldn't allow a photo of him to be used since someone could turn it face down and he would die. He is an intense and unique vocalist with an odd strangulated style which may take some getting used to but is remarkably effective. He was also a fine propulsive guitarist that sounds more Mississippi than Georgia. His material is a mix of original songs and covers of blues records that he makes very much his own. Some of the material has a loose free form style that brings to mind Robert Pete Williams particularly in the wonderful semi spoken Root Blues. Presumably his fears wouldn't have allowed him to travel so only a handful of people outside his community had a chance to see him perform which is a real shame as he was a major discovery.

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