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album: One of These Days

Captain Luke: One of These Days $12.00

A veteran of the local "drink house" circuit in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Luther "Captain Luke" Mayer sings in a gravelly bass/baritone. Surprisingly, his vocal phrasing-as well as his tendency to segue into spoken passages and then back again into a melody line-sometimes invokes Lightnin' Hopkins, an association accentuated by the inclusion of Short Haired Woman, a longtime Hopkins mainstay, on this set. Mayer also strips B.B.'s Angel of Mercy theme down to its bare-boned essence with a riveting solo acoustic performance, again invoking Lightnin' with his phrasing. But he's far from "just" a bluesman; in fact, he sounds at least as influenced by country music as by blues. This versatility no doubt held him in good stead during his heyday, when he was required to provide entertainment for listeners with diverse tastes. (You Keep Me) Hangin' On is not the old Supremes/Vanilla Fudge pop standard but a countrified version of a ballad that's previously been recorded by Ann Peebles and Joe Simon, among others. Come Back To Me likewise sounds as if it was hatched in a honky-tonk rather than a juke. On these offerings, Mayer's sidemen provide him with low-key but richly textured country-folk backing. Old Black Buck, credited to Mayer himself, harks back to early folk styles, both African American and white-it wouldn't sound out-of-place in a Carolina Chocolate Drops set. His take on Taj Mahal's Farther on Down the Road (unrelated to the Bobby "Blue" Bland standard), in contrast, is buttressed by a gently burbling funk patter, and it's rich with emotional immediacy and understated but elegant sophistication. -David Whiteis, Living Blues
album: Live at The Hamilton

Captain Luke and Cool John Ferguson: Live at The Hamilton $12.00

Captain Luke's voice like honey dripping on hot chocolate and the beautifully stunning guitar of Cool John Ferguson breathe new life and nuance into this set of old songs. In 2012, Tom Meyer and Bart Farrell invited their friend Captain Luke (84) to perform a special show at The Hamilton, a new venue they opened just three blocks from the White House. Captain Luke, from Winston-Salem, NC, used to sing locally with the legendary 5 Royale’s in the 50s. And for the last 60 years, he has been king of Winston-Salem's drink-house milieu. Cool John Ferguson from Beaufort, SC is a youngster by Music Maker’s standards, a living bridge between his Gullah heritage and the psychedelic rock and roll and R&B of his childhood. When these two Carolina men join together onstage, jaws drop. -Tim Duffy, MMRF Founder