Fred Hostetler
Fred’s Blue Chair Blues
Mukthiland Records

21st Century Deja-Blues.

I had something completely different and far more up-tempo in mind to review today; but woke up to a cold and grey November morning which just put me in the mind for some gloriously maudlin Back-Porch acoustic Blues …… now; where would I find such an album that could possibly fit such a mood?
Fred Hostetler’s Fred’s Blue Chair Blues is the right answer.
This has been sitting around for a couple of weeks now; but my easy going and jolly mood (eh????) has never got me past three tracks at a time ….. but today?
Before I discuss the songs here; I urge you to check out Fred’s bio ….. what a guy! He’s been around the music industry for eons; even adding backing vocals to one of my favourite Johnny Winter songs; plus he spent 15 years working on an ashram in Tamil Nadu, India!
Not the most prolific of recording artists under his own name; this is honest to goodness, red raw Country Blues recorded a Facebook ‘stream’ of his back catalogue during Lockdown #1 in his living room; and is only being released after a hearing a voice in a dream telling him to do so.
Wisely he opens with a startling interpretation of Bright Lights, Big City; sung as it was written, with all of the trapping we now associate it with stripped away; and all that is left is a man with a dream … and a guitar.
Everything else comes from his own imagination and pen.
Track #2 Hey You, Corporate Vandals sounds as authentic as anything you would hear on a Post War compilation featuring all those names we drop when we play Top Trumps with our favourite Olde Blues singers; but listen to Fred’s insightful and angry words and this song is as contemporary as anything Joe Bonamassa will release this year!
While not a contender for Favourite Track status; I just love the whole 8 minutes of Taming The Wolf; mostly because of Hostetler’s wheezy and wise spoken introduction, alongside a song that sounds like it has come from the Field Recordings; and man oh man ….. what about that primal guitar picking?
Just like his forefathers in Country Blues, the primitive recording process Hostetler uses is better than perfect for the earthiness in I’m a New Man and the ever so sad; Deep, Deep Well which features some of the coolest, yet scariest National Steel playing I’ve heard since I first discovered Stefan Grossman back in 1071.
For a Favourite Song it’s a toss up between the Ragtime shuffle of Salty Tears and the powerful What’s Ahead and What’s Behind which again; sounds like something from Alan Lomax’s Field Recordings that must have been found in a suitcase under a bed in a motel in Clarksdale. That is until you hear the story in the song; which although absolutely timeless; is none the less 2020 in a bloody and tarnished nutshell.
I’ve got a decent sized Blues collection covering nearly all of the bases; but for the life of me I can’t think of anyone in there who Fred Hostetler actually sounds like.
There are plenty he sits alongside; but I’m astounded that he has managed to hide his light under a bushel for so long …….. this has been such an exciting find and will be for you too.

Released November 13th 2020

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