“Mississippi” Gabe Carter
International Sound Services, Inc
By Georgetown Fats
“Mississippi” Gabe Carter has a meandering old soul. Though the one-man band physically resides in Chicago and tours relentlessly, his polyrhythmic finger-picked guitar, howling tenor vocals and heel taps on a porch board manage to update the haunting country blues sound most often linked with Bentonia, MS.
On Carter’s 2008 release Midnight Dream, his music is down, dirty, raw, sometimes gut-wrenching and always authentic. From the opening track titled “Tell the World,” he locks into a primal, trance-like groove. His soaring tenor vocals alternate between his lyrics and howls while producing both bass and guitar lines from a battered electric guitar.
On “Big Fat Woman,” Carter takes the old country standard back to the back porch and gives it a very haunting treatment. His lead guitar line mimics his vocal melody on “God Help the Poor & Needy.” It is an effective technique used to reinforce his lyrics and message. At two minutes and thirteen seconds, Carter may not have a lot to sing, but it’s clear he wants to get his point across.
Carter may have learned at the feet of Jack Owens and Jimmy “Duck” Holmes, masters of the Bentonia sound, but he is his own musician. On “Midnight Dream,” he re-examines themes central to the foundation of country Bentonia Blues sound, combining some of his own lyrics with some standards, but it is done with a nod to both authenticity and innovation. Carter first learned of the Bentonia blues sound after viewing a documentary on Jack Owens. Hopefully, through continued internet support, future generations will be inspired by video clips and documentaries on the new generation of musicians inspired by musicians like “Mississippi” Gabe Carter.
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