JOSH WHITE, JR ~ REVIEWS

PERFORMANCE Magazine

"The theater was dark, and in the silence, the dramatic sound of fingers snapping in the PA gave way to a powerful bluesy voice center stage, singing : `I've Been Down So Long (that the tears roll up my face)'. The follow spot slowly began lighting up the center stage runway which jutted out into the audience, to reveal a lone, powerful, black man, bald with a full beard, bringing us rapidly into his pained misery, tears rolling down his cheeks. The conclusion of this opening song brought silence... then a thunderous standing ovation! Here is a performer who knows dynamics and takes the audience right into his world. There aren't many solo, acoustic artists with the confidence, talent and professionalism of Josh White, Jr."

PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER

"The musical highlight of the evening was Josh White, Jr.' s set of sophisticated blues-based guitar playing and vocals. White has the harmonic finesse of a jazz performer, and his style is still one of the most recognizable and polished sounds in all folk music."

MONTREAL GAZETTE (4 Star review of "House of the Rising Son," November 18, 1999)

"Josh White was a tremendously influential blues and gospel artist from the time of his first recordings in the 1930s to his final performances in the `60s. Likewise, his 1944 hit, One Meatball, was the first record by a black male artist to sell one million copies. Now 30 years after his death, Josh White, Jr. has recorded a powerful tribute with 11 of his father's songs. He has mastered his father's guitar and vocal techniques and adds his own personality to gospel song "Jesus Gonna Make Up My Dying Bed" and topical blues tune "Hard Time Blues." Particularly moving is "Strange Fruit," about southern lynching that was recorded in the `40s by both White and Billie Holiday. The bonus finale is a version of "One Meatball," recorded on Duke Ellington's radio program in 1945 that has the Ellington Orchestra backing White and his precocious 4 year old son." -Mike Regenstreif Montreal Gazette (11/18/99)

BIG CITY BLUES Magazine (Feb/Mar 2000 album review of "House of the Rising Son" - Tribute to Josh White.)

 "The triumph of Josh White was not only his music, but his wide-reaching social contributions, especially those that broke down color barriers leading to further southern desegregation. His musical contributions are the root stock of early folk and acoustic blues -- equally important to the development of blues in the Delta and the early folk scene in Greenwich Village.

This release is a tribute by Josh White Jr. to his father, whom he often performed with in his youth. The closing cut is a 1945 live Armed Forces Radio Show featuring the five-year old Josh White Jr. and his father performing. The interpretations of many of his father's songs, including "House of the Rising Sun," are near dead-ringers. Ten of the twelve tunes here are by the father, Josh White. The other two poignant songs include one the senior performed at many shows; "Strange Fruit" talks of racial lynchings, speaking plainly of black bodies hanging from southern poplar trees. Reemphasizing the senior's innovative chording and phrasings, Josh White Jr. (now fifty-four years old) is the best testament to the immensely historic contributions of his father.

A master of vocal inflection and involvement, Josh White Jr. pushes his envelope and shows why he is considered one of music's premiere vocalists and performers. In the shadow of his father, Josh White Jr. invokes the presence of the senior, making music for the masses and masses for the music. These simple acoustic renditions will reveal layer after layer of intrinsically belabored design; pure, unadulterated chords and notes, along with deeply intense lyrics, characterize each tune.

This disc warrants awards, rave reviews, and all the attention possible! Solid folk/blues, nothing short of magnificent."
-Mark A. Cole Big City Blues (Feb-Mar 2000)

BIG CITY BLUES MAGAZINE (2001 album review of "Cortelia Clark").

"There is a richness and musical fulfillment here from the simple balladeer playing his guitar and singing with an integrity reserved for masters. His guitar picking and rhythm action are tremendously artistic, stretching each note and ringing the strings. From the opening title tune, the authenticity oozes. Josh White, Jr. could teach a course on premium vocals and attention to fine guitar action. White's voice will not disappoint! This disc stands tall on well-chosen material, perfectionist guitar work, And a voice as rich, real, and appealing as it comes."

TOWER RECORDS (2003 album review of "Josh White Jr. Live).

"This is the third Josh White Jr album on Silverwolf. After the highly successful tribute album to his father, Josh White, (House of the Rising Son. . .) and the extremely well received Cortelia Clark, a live album was a natural. Josh has not recorded a live album in years and no other is currently in print. Recorded at the legendary Ark in Ann Arbor [Michigan], Josh is thoroughly at home, alternately front a rhythm section and keyboard player as well as playing solo acoustic. The material here was carefully chosen as his most requested and after years of playing these songs, there are naturally some spectacular performances - a must for fans of blues, folk and/or Josh White Jr."

LANSING STATE JOURNAL (theater review of biographical play on Josh White,
"JOSH: The Man & His Music," starring Josh White, Jr.)

"JOSH" is a full-fledged musical drama that happens to need only one man. White will take us on a walk through history. He'll move us, teach us, touch us. He'll hit us with an equal mixture of rage and joy. It's a major triumph, the kind you should rush to -- and should bring your kids to."

BOSTON HERALD (Sanders Theater concert review of Josh in "Glory Bound" show,
November 4, 2001)

"On Sunday night, he was in warm, bountiful voice. Highlights included a newly relevant "The House I Live In (What Is America To Me)" and "One Meatball," done as a joyous sing-a-long. Maybe the best thing he did was break a string, for it allowed him to show the crowd how his dad handled that same mishap. White, Jr. replaced and tuned the string while singing a splendid a cappella version of `Summertime'."

BILLBOARD MAGAZINE (New York's Bottom Line Folk Festival)

"Josh White, Jr. began his sold out Bottom Line concert, with an a cappella rendition of "I've Been Down So Long," shaking the house with his rich baritone. He followed this with a folk set including his own compositions, along with songs by his father, Tom Paxton and others. He closed with the traditional "I Shall Be Released," proving why he has been a staple of the folk scene for so many years."

World Music and Cambridge Center for Adult Education in Cambirdge, MA

Josh White Jr. and Elijah Wald led a discussion November 4, 2001 -- Lisa Monrose, Director of Special Projects at World Music writes:

"...the discussion was precisely what World Music hoped for, a discussion both informative and entertaining. The two gentlemen offered a fascinating combination of historical background and sociological context, personal history of Josh White's life, stirring intimate stories about this extraordinary man, and a live musical illustration of his career which progressed from one end of Josh's life to the other.

"Josh Jr. and Elijah are perfect partners for the telling of Josh White's story. They each hold a different slice of the picture and together paint a very rich portrait and give a compelling experience of the man. Since Elijah is a musician as well as a historian and writer, he was able to perform with Josh Jr., which enhanced the musical performance aspect of the discussion. And Josh Jr.'s voice, as beautifully distinct as it is, can't help but bring the spirit of his father directly into the room."

"The result of these two gentlemen performing together was a presentation so enjoyable, educational and relevant to our society today that I encourage them (and you) to do it again. Audiences everywhere would benefit from this exquisite partnership."

 


 

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