Fruteland Jackson
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Fruteland Jackson

Crown Point, Indiana, United States | INDIE

Crown Point, Indiana, United States | INDIE
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""Tell Me What You Say""

Fruteland Jackson – (Electro-fi 3401) Down Beat Magazine July 2007 Issue By Frank John-Hadley

- Fruteland Jackson: Tell Me What You Say (Electro-Fi 3401; 52:321 *** Forthright and intelligent. singer-guitarist Jackson has the style and improvisational instinct to carry on as one of the premier acoustic blues artists today. On his fourth recommendable album, this Chicagoan shows full awareness of the emotive prop­erties of the blues as they pertain to song topics like war Blues Over Baghdad." quietly stunning) and gossip ("It's All Good," steeped in irony). Canadian friends playing piano, cello, trumpet and other instruments deliver the fitting low-spark accompaniment. - DOWNBEAT JAZZ MAGAZINE


""Tell Me What You Say""

Fruteland Jackson – (Electro-fi 3401) Blues Revue June/July 2007 Issue By THOMAS J. CULLEN III - PDF

Chicago folk-blues ambassador Fruteland Jackson's third release for the Electro-Fi label contains two of the hardest-hitting slow blues social commentaries of recent vintage. The stark "Blues Over Baghdad (Forget Me Not)," musically evocative of Robert Johnson's "Hellhound On My Trail," is dedicated "to those who bought the bullets, and to those who bought the farm," a sentiment underscored by Kevin Fox's haunting cello, while "The I. R. S." captures the nightmarish anxiety caused by an impending audit thanks to trembling vocals and Chris Whiteley's warbling harp.

The disc's lone cover is a countrified duet with Diana Braithewaite on that immortal slice of Americana "You Are My Sunshine," which some might find out of place among the rest of the fare. Jackson is joined on various tracks by pianist Julian Fauth, percussionist Bucky Berger, and Whiteley on guitar, harmonica, and trumpet. Jackson's original tunes are a varied lot. Highlights include "I Won" (co-written with Johnnie Mae Dunson), a hardy, slow-rolling piano blues in the style of Otis Spann; "My Baby Left Me All Alone in E Minor," a throbbing beatnik blues inspired by Howlin' Wolf; "It's All Good," a jaunty affirmation of life that contains some of Jackson's best picking; and the yearning a cappella title track, co-written with Keith Brown.

Vocally, Jackson recalls Josh White, while his guitar playing is firmly rooted in prewar traditions. The overall mood of Tell Me What You Say is mellow, but that by no means diminishes the passion or purpose of an album that requires listeners' rime, patience, and attention — three things that are often in short supply today. - Blues Revue


"FRUTE strength:"

FRUTE strength: An adventurous acoustic artist, Jackson knows it’s all about the songs.

The title of Fruteland Jackson’s latest release — one of the finest blues albums of this young decade — does not refer to the fact that it’s his sec­ond effort for Electro-Fi Records. Rather, Jackson’s announcing his intention to update the language of blues. Like software, this music can indeed be made more accessible with an upgrade, but there’s always risk of creating something incompatible with tradition. The main difference between Jackson and a thousand lesser lights is that he’s changing the content, not the form, which is why the most relevant blues album of 2003 happens to be built around musical styles that went out of favor when they dismantled the WPA. When this man declares “I Can Still Rock and Roll,” he’s not talking about music.

Jackson’s secret weapon is his song-writing; his mastery of prewar idioms is frightening in its totality. (The vocalist/ guitarist also has created an award-winning curriculum for teaching blues in American schools.) He’s well versed in Piedmont, Delta, field hollers, country blues, and more, and it lends his crusade an air of authenticity. Even artists who understand and can write ragtime, for example, are seldom able to craft complex bridges such as the one in “Moon Man Rag”; fewer still would think to downshift from acoustic boogie to a sultry half-time strut and back again in the seductive “Laura Marie.”

Throughout Blues 2.0, Jackson’s commitment engenders pure beauty, resulting in transcendent mo­ments such as “How Could We Live Without Love,” an acoustic meditation laced with torchy jazz trumpet. These are not museum pieces. The lyrics are where Jackson most fully modernizes his approach. The afore­mentioned “Love” mines philosophical depths most modern roots artists can’t with its elemental, almost haiku-like verses, while “Sometimes Bad Man Blues” manages to evoke sympathy for the hard work liars and scoundrels have to do to keep up their fronts. Even when the mood gets lighter, his observations remain on the mark. In “Moon Man Rag,” he delivers a number of sly puns on the terminology of menstruation, then sums it all up: “I don’t understand, I’m still in the dark/Maybe they should call it a question mark.” He mentions Viagra in “My Pencil Don’t Write No More” and, on the title track, declares he’s “traded in my hammer for a hundred e-mails.” From another artist, it might seem like pandering, but the musi­cal and emotional authenticity of the per­formances carry the ring of absolute truth, something essential to making this music relevant to non-fans.

Learning to play blues is easy, consid­ering the thousands of people who (barely) make a living at it. But speaking the language like a native is something else entirely, and Fruteland Jackson, thank God, knows how to do both — and how to translate for the rest of us.

- By Robert Fontenot - BLUES REVUE MAGAZINE


Discography

Fruteland Jackson...Is All I Crave-IT Records
I Claim Nothing But The Blues-Electro-Fi
Blues 2.0-Electro-Fi
Tell Me What You Say-Electro-Fi

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Bio

Mississippi native Fruteland Jackson is a three-time Blues Music Award nominee as well as an accomplished storyteller and oral historian, Fruteland specializes in performing acoustic blues — from contemporary to traditional, from early field-holler songs and work songs to Delta and Piedmont tunes — and is also well-respected composer.

He is one of a select group of musicians dedicated to preserving and performing acoustic blues in all forms and has shared his message at hundreds of venues. Fruteland imparts his knowledge of the blues to students throughout the country. He created the award-winning “All About The Blues Series’ Blues in the Schools programs and has earned widespread praise for his research curriculum and presentation. He is the recipient of the Blues Foundations “Keeping the Blues Alive” award.

He authors instructional books and DVD’s for beginners. As a performer, Fruteland is a consistent crowd pleaser whose music and humor leaves audiences at ease. He has been documented by HistoryMakers.com™ in 2007, and was the recipient of the Illinois Arts Council Folk/Ethnic Heritage Award.
Fruteland new CD,” Tell Me What You say" is available on Electro-Fi Records________________________________________“Forthright and intelligent. Singer-guitarist Jackson has the style and improvisational instinct to carry on as one of the premier acoustic blues artists today.”-DOWNBEAT MAGAZINE

“The overall mood of Tell Me What You Say is mellow, but that by no means diminishes the passion or purpose of an album that requires listeners' time, patience, and attention”. – BLUES REVUE