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Boo Hanks teams with Chocolate Drops founder on new album

South Boston News
Boo Hanks performed at The Prizery arts center two years ago. (Staff photo by David Conner II)
SoVaNow.com / August 20, 2012


From staff reports

Boo Hanks, the acclaimed 83-year-old blues musician from Virgilina, has a new album out and got some hip young help recording it.

On the album, “Buffalo Junction,” Hanks gets dual billing with Dom Flemons, co-founder of the Grammy-winning string band Carolina Chocolate Drops.

Hanks and Flemons are currently on tour.

The album is the second of Hanks’ career.

Hanks, a farmer who grew up in and still lives near Buffalo Junction – hence the album’s title – has appeared at Roots of American Music Festival at the Lincoln Center, shared a bill with Patti Smith, been covered by the New York Times, played the New Orleans Blues Festival and toured in Europe.

“He’s billed as basically the last of the Piedmont Blues [musicians],” said Ross LeCompte, a professional musician who retired to Clarksville after a career ranging from Broadway to “The Merv Griffin Show” and a friend of Hanks’. LeCompte now lives in Arizona.

Hanks is known for his delicate finger-style guitar picking popularized by Blind Boy Fuller, the most famous exponent of Piedmont Blues. The Piedmont Blues takes its name from the East Coast’s Piedmont region, roughly Richmond to Atlanta, but it had players in many Mid-Atlantic states and found its heyday in the African-American music of the 1930s and 40s.

LeCompte says Piedmont Blues was born of fieldworkers toiling all day, then coming home to pick a guitar or banjo and sing of love, patriotism and adversity.

Hanks made his first recording, “Pickin’ Low Cotton,” at age 79.

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