“Little Girl In Rome,” the first single and video from Hudspeth & Taylor’s new album, Ridin’ The Blinds, shows the Kansas City duo expanding the critically acclaimed and BMA-nominated footprint their 2019 debut, Folie a Deux, created. This cover of Otto Virgail (which might be considered obscure in some circles) is a prime example of the way they rework Mississippi Delta Blues in a way that pays homage and reinvents them at the same time.
“Most of the songs on this album are pre-war Delta Blues,” notes guitarist Brandon Hudspeth. “We wanted to bring back some of those old melodies people haven’t heard for years, maybe even decades. The phrasing and harmonic sense of that period might even sound foreign today. We spent some time taking those ideas and going in other directions from the originals. We added some things in too, especially with the arrangements and layering of instruments. The concept was to take some of our favorite old and possibly obscure songs that maybe people haven’t heard, and bring in a modern approach.”
Singer/percussionist Jaisson Taylor agrees, “the phrasing on those older songs, the way lyrics are repeated, there’s a lot of cool things in there that are not simple and primitive like the way people tend to think of old blues.” Taylor’s staggering four-octave vocal range combined with innovative percussive work (in a blues context) are the perfect foil for Hudspeth guitar work. “I’m trying to place my voice so it’s homogenous with what Brandon’s doing on guitar and also be aware of other things that are going on, sonically. Guys like Manse Lipscomb, they hit their instrument and it adds things to where you think ‘he’s one guy, how did he do that?’ There’s two of us, and I try to think of how can we make it sound like there’s more.”
“Riding the blinds is an old hobo term,” Hudspeth explains. “It’s about trying to get somewhere. A guy doesn’t have a ticket so he rides between the cars, they used to call that riding the blinds; in the ’20s and ’30s musicians used to do that a lot to get from town to town. That’s the idea of the record, traveling from old time to new.”