The Otis Brothers,
Let's Go to Huntin'
(Susquehanna Hat, 2003)

This compilation album of traditional tunes is of mixed quality, but that cannot always be blamed on the artists. Let's Go to Huntin' is a spontaneous mono and one-microphone recording of what seems to have been an impromptu performance by the Otis Brothers, a.k.a. Bob Guida and Pat Conte. Admittedly, it gives the CD a certain charm when the duo succeeds in capturing an "authentic" sound for this melange of blues and party-play -- but it turns irritating when the recordings become plain unintelligible.

What we have here is a collection of -- as some of the promotional materials have it -- "home-made native Queens-New York interpretations of blues and sanctified songs" from America's rural south. In spite of being a universe that is light years removed from the cosmopolitan Big Apple, Guida and Conte successfully capture the mood and topical variety of the region's Afro-American music culture. The song's themes include the morbid ("Cemetery Bound," "Death is Riding High"), the intoxicated ("Fiddler's Dram," "Down on Me"), the devotional ("God Don't Change), the sacred ("Ezekiel's Wheel") and the profane ("Hoppin' Frog").

The Otis Brothers deserve to be credited for this testimonial to a place and time when gun control was not yet an issue ("Forty-Four," "Come On, Boys, & Let's Go to Huntin'"). It is all done with self-deprecating humor ("Bald-Headed") and keen understanding of the essence of bare bone blues ("Fire Down Yonder," "Yellow Dog").

- Rambles
written by Carool Kersten
published 4 September 2004