‘Going Down To Georgia On A Hog’ is a superb title for an excellent album of old-school country blues played and sung by Jeffrey Scott, a master of the genre.
Jeffrey Scott’s latest album ‘Going Down To Georgia On A Hog’ is an early contender for 2023’s album title of the year and the album itself may even be a contender for Blues Album Of The Year. Scott has one of those amazing American backstories that reads like a movie script. He currently raises Texas longhorn cattle, farms hogs, works as a mortician and long-haul truck driver and in the past has worked as a state trooper, sheriff and even a grave digger. He was also run over by a truck and broke his back and at one stage, was homeless! But with all of that going on his life he kept playing his guitar and is now recognised as one of the leading purveyors of Piedmont-style blues that he first learnt from his uncle and Smithsonian Folkways Recording and Arhoolie Records artist, John Jackson. As the album’s press release says: ‘First picking up the guitar at six years old, Scott sees it as his mission to carry on and pass on the traditional music that he learned from his uncle, saying, “[The blues is] like being in a relay race. You have to take the blues and pass it on to someone else before you go.” These acoustic blues songs tell the story of Jeffrey life’s work and lay claim to his rich cultural heritage, playing with his family and friends in after-church jams on Sundays. Jackson learned Piedmont blues songs from a convict they knew by the name Happy’.
The album itself is short and sweet with the thirteen songs coming in around thirty-four minutes – in fact only the last two tracks are over three minutes in length. The album starts with a spoken intro from Scott reminiscent of Lonnie Donegan’s explanation on ‘Rock Island Line’ of what a toll gate is – in this case on the title track, Scott explains what a hog is: it’s the engine of a train where the hobos jumped onto to keep warm. Scott also tells the listener that the song was written by his uncle John.
The other twelve tracks are a mixture of various forms of the blues and rags all featuring Scott’s superb fingerpicked acoustic guitar – there are no other instruments or voices – it’s all purely Scott and a microphone. The songs are from the likes of John Jackson, Blind Boy Fuller and Willie Walker amongst others and there’s even Scott’s take on Elizabeth Cotton’s ‘Freight Train’, which like ‘Rock Island Line’ was a staple of the skiffle era back in the late fifties in the UK and the album has the rough and ready feel that came to exemplify the genre.
‘Going Down To Georgia On A Hog’ is one of those albums that if the record company had added some pops, clicks and hiss to the mix and said that this was a long-lost blues album recorded by Alan Lomax in the field in the 1940s, then they would have been believed. Scott has the lived-in, world-weary voice of an ancient bluesman and his guitar picking is a delight whether he’s playing Piedmont blues, country blues or ragtime. ‘Going Down To Georgia On A Hog’ is a joy from start to finish and if you’re a fan of country blues played and sung with joie de vivre, then this is the album for you.
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