Lightnin’ Hopkins Serenades Joan Baez in his heyday.
Here is an incredibly rare video performance by the iconic blues hero Lightnin’ Hopkins. In this sweet video, he serenades equally iconic folk star Joan Baez with his playful, suggestive blues romp “Let’s Pull a Party.”
The Folk Blues Movement & Carnegie Hall
You don’t have to have a beautiful, ultra-talented woman by your side to give an amazing blues performance.
But hey, it doesn’t hurt.
Baez is all smiles as the great Texas bluesman woos her through song. But it’s Lightnin’s powerhouse performance that is really capturing her – and our – attention.
Too few of the greatest acoustic blues icons from history have many videos recorded of them performing. Thus, we are exceedingly lucky to have this gem performed by Hopkins back in 1960.
As it happened, Lightnin’ Hopkins made the acquaintance of Ms. Baez when they performed together at the illustrious Carnegie Hall. It was Lightnin’s debut at the venue, and we imagine he would have been nervous enough as it was if he wasn’t performing alongside folk luminaries Joan Baez and Pete Seeger. Together they sang a memorable rendition of the spiritual tune, “Mary Don’t You Weep.”
Let’s Pull a Party!
Can anyone seriously watch this video and deny that Hopkins is the epitome of cool? We thinks not. The shades. The way he sing-talks, barely hitting notes and yet landing them perfectly, many decades before pop stars like Kesha re-popularized the “talk-singing” performative vocal style.
And the guitar playing is sublime. Whether he’s “walking the dog” with the bass line, strumming immaculate variations on open chords, or soloing on the higher registers of his acoustic axe, Hopkins has a magnetic presence that you can’t take your eyes off of as he plays.
The 1960’s was a time of transformation as well as transition in American popular music. On the one hand, folk luminaries like Seeger, Baez, and, of course, Bob Dylan, were hot commodities, playing what the people thought of as true, authentic music. But soon rock and roll would be beating down the door, transforming some folk stars like Dylan into rock mega stars and leaving others behind.
Lightnin’ Hopkins was, in a way, a similarly transitional figure. He bridged the older world of the county Delta blues with the neo-styles that would evolve out of what Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf were doing in Chicago with their Delta roots and electric guitars. All the same, Hopkins is an elite member of the blues canon and we are extremely grateful to have videos like this of him playing in his purest form.
– Keeping the Blues Alive,
Published on March 15, 2017
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