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Howard Finster

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Rev. Howard Finster,(December 2, 1916 – October 22, 2001) was a preacher from rural Georgia with little formal education whose paintings went so far as to become REM and Talking Heads album covers, may be America’s best known folk artist, he also had a little-discussed musical side.

The album “The Night Howard Finster Got Saved” is largely dedicated to spoken-word tracks, but there’s some ace tunes on it as well. Singing in a high’n’ lonesome twang, playing guitar, harmonica, and…piano, Finster’s music should sound familiar to anyone who’s heard the “O Brother Where Art Thou” soundtrack.”

There’s much to enjoy here: Finster’s old-fashioned Southern speech, his charmingly out-of-tune piano, the passionate singing. One of the spoken-work tracks, “Last Call I Had,” is particular stirring, as Finster describes how he talked a suicidal New Yorker out of jumping, over the phone. But the climactic title track truly must be heard to be believed - over two different tape recordings playing two different fiery Finster sermons, the good rev. sings, shouts, whistles, whoops and hollers over the din. For 25 minutes. Absolutely mental.

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