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No Depression Magazine
Adam's Mini-Reviews, Vol. 3- Buckeye Edition

Posted by Adam Sheets on September 3, 2010 at 9:00pm

Next up we'll go to the opposite end of the state and take a look at folk guitarist and vocalist Joe Rollin Porter from Cleveland.

Porter's forte is keeping folk music alive and he does so brilliantly by delivering a 10-track-collection mostly culled from the American folk tradition with songs ranging from the well-known to the obscure, including several Child ballads, songs from Harry Smith's legendary Anthology of American Folk Music, and even one old blues number.

The arrangements here are as sparse as possible: just Porter's guitar and voice with an occasional hand clap or foot stomp. By keeping things this simple, he allows his considerable strength as a musician to shine through and also makes the entire proceeding much more authentic than a full-band production would allow.

Porter begins with the well-known "Black Jack Davy" before proceeding to his rewritten version of Little Hat Jones' 1930 blues tune "Bye Bye Baby Blues." Other highlights of the record include "The Cuckoo Bird," an excellent version of "Greensleeves," the bleak title track, and possibly one of the best versions I've heard of "Did You Ever See the Devil, Uncle Joe."

Porter finishes the album with a nice arrangement of "Oh Death" that is clearly based on Dock Boggs' rendition.

Porter displays a very pleasant and deep singing voice that is quite emotional throughout the record, but the main strength of the album lies in his skill and obvious experience at finger-styled guitar. The dexterity and speed displayed here are attained only through years of hard work and it is obvious that Porter has more than paid his dues.

Guys like Joe are the type of performer that we all need to pay close attention to. They are the ones keeping the musical past alive, shining a new light on the old songs, and while it's true nobody will ever equal Dock Boggs, Woody Guthrie, or Son House, that is no justification for abandoning the styles they perfected.

Click here to view the original online review

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Buzzbin Magazine
Sept.15th 2011

You certainly don't get many artists like Joe Rollin Porter anymore. He's a magnificent guitarist and his skills give his songs this added layer of awesome that can have even the most uppity of music know-it-alls bowing down.
 
Joe Rollin Porter is an Americana folk performer out of Cleveland that was kind enough to grace downtown Canton with his presence for the Brewed Roots Festival. Porter takes classic songs like "The Cuckoo Bird" and "Greensleeves" and makes them so astoundingly amazing, you can't help but tapping your toe to the tune. And his entire album, "Troubles Like Mine" really does that to you, has you humming along and tapping your toes

He commands this album and has the listener wrapped around his terribly swift and talented fingers from the first pluck on his guitar. And you have to know he's amazing when he keeps you interested with only the sound of his guitar and his cool voice, no need to have any drums or bass or anything else, he keeps you captivated with two elements. That's what music should boil down to.
 
We have no trouble when it comes to appreciating just how freaking amazing this album is, hopefully there will be a lot more like this sometime soon. -Aaron Fowler 9/15/2011

Click here to view the original online review


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