Living Blues No. 116, August 1994
Roy Book Binder has been recording East Coast blues since the '60s, and this new live set may be the best recorded work of his career, proving once again that the blues is an art that rewards the passing years. A student of both Pink Anderson and Gary Davis, Book Binder is one of the few revivalists whose mastery of the elegant East Coast blues style transcends the technical to embrace the form's vision. As always, the program leans heavily on interpretations of classic material from the genre, including tunes by Bayless Rose, Gary Davis, and Willie McTell; also included are bows to country and western pioneer Jimmie Rodgers (He's In The Jailhouse Now) and the Delta's master of double-entendre, Bo Carder (Let's Get Drunk Again).
Just as entertaining as his music, is Book Binder's rapport with his audience and his minstrel's ability to tell just the right story at the right time. Candy Man serves as a vehicle for the tale of his tutelage at the side of Gary Davis. Perfectly woven into the fabric of the song, the story is so captivating and evocative of Davis' spirit that the track's 11 minutes seem but a moment. Equally engaging is the story of the first time Book Binder met Jefferson Airplane/Hot Tuna veteran Jorma Kaukonen, who performs on two songs here.
If you're a fan of Piedmont blues, get this CD - even the most pure of the purists will like it. Roy Book Binder has absorbed not just the notes and words, but the spirit of a blues style that was, after all, meant for good times.
- Peter R. Aschoff (Living Blues)