Making a Scene: « No doubt, they got it »

This is one of the most interesting collaborations of blues we have heard in some time.  A trio of French musicians – Tia Goutteble (guitar, voice), Gilles Chabenat (Hurdy-Gurdy – a traditional French instrument), and Marc Glomeau (percussion) call themselves the Hypnotic Wheels Trio.  Their music draws its inspiration from traditional French music and North Mississippi Hill Country Blues.  In some respects, it’s like the efforts of groups like Tinariwen from Mali – marrying their native music with American blues.  In this case the Hurdy-Gurdy is used as a second guitar.  This is the first time that music from these two cultures have combined.  So, to make this, their second album, even more authentic, the trio travelled to Mississippi and collaborated with some of the major local artists. |…]

Without recording studios or top shelf technology, field engineer Pierre Bianchi captured these sessions with an 8 microphone preamp and a computer. The recordings took place on front porches, back porches, and historic landmarks in Mississippi. With no gimmicks the sound is not only authentic but especially engaging as you can hear train whistles and highway traffic on occasion. […]

Burnside, Shade Thomas, Kimbrough, and Pat Thomas are all descendants of their prestigious elders (RL Burnside, Otha Turner, Junior Kimbrough, James Son Thomas).  None of the four approach the project with a “take charge” mentality.  Instead, they give humble, passionate performances, immersing themselves in the music. And, these musicians certainly passed on that North Mississippi Hill County feel to the trio.  Listen to Cedric Burnside leading “See My Jumper Hanging on the Line” or Sharde Thomas leading “Glory” and then catch the trio doing Mississippi Fred’s “Shake ‘Em On Down.”  No doubt, they got it.

Read Jim Hynes full review of Muddy Gurdy in Making a Scene


No Depression: « The talent […] is immense »

This was something that came in to the house completely unknown in any way shape or form; there was no advanced word about it, no tear sheet in the package, absolutely nothing other than here you are, some Cds in the mail!  When the Cds got here and were opened and laid out the name MUDDY GURDY stood out as well as the photography and beautiful art work on the disc.  It stood out because it was subtle and totally unknown, a complete lack of hype. […]

This is a three person French group that came to the States with the idea of recording an Album with the blues players that populate the North Mississippi Hill Country:  what they wound up doing was getting a new name, Muddy Gurdy (they were The Hypnotic Wheels; Tia Gouttebel {guitar, vocals}, Gilles Chabenat {hurdy-gurdy}, and Marco Glomeau {percussion}), introducing an old French instrument to the people of the Hill Country, and making a damn fine disc that blends traditional French and Blues musics, probably the only one with a hurdy-gurdy on it.  […]

Then you start with some very muffled sounds for about half a minute that don’t really make any sense, and then there is the real start of the disc with the second song.  We won’t ruin all the surprises the disc has to offer, and they are many.  If you are familiar with the North Mississippi Hill Country Blues, this is it as played Cedric Burnside, Sharde Thomas, Cameron Kimbrough,  and Pat Thomas and the talent from both sides of the Atlantic is immense.

This was not recorded in fancy studios in Memphis or Nashville but on back-porches, at people’s farms, and old clubs like the Ebony Club, places that retain the vibrations of the sounds made all those years ago.  If you love Blues you will probably have trouble getting it out of your changer.  This is a disc that you will play for friends and other music people who you wish to turn on to something new/old and exciting.

By Bob Gottlieb, in a story called « foreign + home grown = explosion ».

Read the full (awesome) critique of Muddy Gurdy in No Depression.  

Les Inrocks: « At the high level of the best heirs of the blues »

Muddy Gurdy sort un album à la hauteur des meilleurs héritiers du blues du Mississippi […]

Cette musique est un fantasme. Celui, bien compréhensible, de tous les amateurs de musique qui un jour ont entendu le morceau Goin’ down South du bluesman R. L. Burnside, et ne s’en sont jamais remis. Cette chanson est un sésame, la porte d’entrée vers les mystères et les moites délices du blues du Nord Mississippi. Le Nord Mississippi n’est pas le delta. C’est le pays des collines, des forêts recouvertes d’un manteau de kudzu et d’une manière bien locale et sorcière de jouer du blues – hypnotique, électrique, érotique, dansant, fondant et fondé sur la pulsation rythmique plutôt que la mélodie. […]

Menaçant, chaotique et sexy, cet album est incroyablement bon, à la hauteur des meilleurs héritiers du blues de là-bas. C’était vraiment une bonne idée, ces ébats entre le vieux (blues) et la vielle (à roue).

Hypnotic Wheels’ Muddy Gurdy’s Project is featured in Les Inrockuptibles, one of France’s major music magazine —a critique full of praise written by Stéphane Deschamps.

Read the full critique (in French). 


The review, as translated by Richard Rosenblatt, founder-president of Vizztone, the label which releases the album this week:

This music is a fantasy. That, understandably, of all the music lovers who one day heard the song Goin Down South by bluesman RL Burnside and never recovered. This song is an ‘open sesame”, the gateway to the mysteries and sweet delights of North Mississippi blues. North Mississippi is not the delta. It is the land of hills, forests covered with a Kudzu mantle and a very local and arcane way to play the blues – hypnotic, electric, erotic, dancing, melting and based on the rhythmic beat rather than the melody .

Goin ‘Down South opens the first album of Muddy Gurdy. Muddy Gurdy is the parallel and traveling project of a French trio called Hypnotic Wheels, Of note: they play blues with a ”vielle à roue” —a hurdy-gurdy (Literal translation: Old Wheel). Last spring, they went down south, a Homeric voyage to record with some demi-gods, or their descendants, of the local blues – Pat and Shardé Thomas, children of Burnside and Kimbrough. The recordings were made in field-recording style, in houses or courtyards, with bits of dialogue, barking dogs and train sirens, far from any confinement.

Muddy Gurdy plays covers, these totemic songs shaped by RL Burnside, Fred McDowell, Jessie Mae Hemphill: Shake em on down, She Wolf, See My Jumper on the Line, Rollin’ and Tumblin’, and of course, Goin ‘down South. Playing covers is easy. Honoring them with a vision is better and that’s what Muddy Gurdy does. Used as a second guitar, the hurdy gurdy sounds like an African violin, with dense, rotating notes marrying this lascivious-aggressive North Mississippi blues. We find this huge, rumbling primitive rhythm, coming from fife & drum, the night of the blues. And these guitars like volcanic rock that becomes lava again.

Threatening, chaotic and sexy, this album is incredibly good, at the high level of the best heirs of the blues from there. It was really a good idea, these frolics between the old (blues) and the old (wheel.)


Gonna Love You played on Live from the Midnight Circus

« It is strong, it is growing and it is going to be huge, » says, about the blues indie scene, Richard Lhommedieu, who just came back from the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, where he was a judge.

For his January 30, 2018, Live at the Midnight Circus show, in which he is « honoring the past, praising the present, empowering the future, » he picked Cameron Kimbrough’s Gonna Love You, which the Mississippi musician recorded with Hypnotic Wheels for their Muddy Gurdy CD at the Moon Hollow Farm in Como, Mississippi.

The song starts just before the 7:00 mark.

For Sunday breakfast in Oregon

KRVM’s Breakfast With the Blues airs every Sunday morning from the Eugene, Oregon, area. A show hosted by BoogieKing Steve.

On January 28, 2018, at 9:11 am, he broadcasted Muddy Gurdy‘s Rollin’ and Tumblin’, right before R.L. Burnside’s Old Black Mattie. For those interested, here is the full playlist.

For the story, Hypnotic Wheels recorded Rollin’ and Tumblin’, a song made famous by Muddy Waters and later by R.L. Burnside, with R.L.’s grandson, Cedric Burnside, in the Como, Mississippi, countryside in late April, 2017. 


The BluzNdaBlood: « A great song »

« Hot blues for a cold winter, » announces The BluzNdaBlood‘s Dave Harrison for its 283rd show, broadcasted on January 26, 2018.

« Here is a great song, that’s a cover of an R.L. Burnside number. Muddy Gurdy is a French band. They met a bunch of the North Mississippi Hill Country blues bloodline, that features Cedric Burnside, Cameron Kimbrough, Pat Thomas, and Sharde Thomas. Enjoy! »

Muddy Gurdy will be released on February 2, 2018, by Vizztone.

The story starts at 43:26.

Muddy Gurdy getting some air time in London

John Cushley aired Muddy Gurdy’s version of That Girl is Bad, featuring Cedric Burnside, during his Balling the Jack show on Resonance FM in London.

A wonderful project called Muddy Gurdy. The voice you heard that was Cedric Burnside, of the Burnside dynasty of North Mississippi. The project is basically a French band called The Hypnotic Wheels traveling to North Mississippi with a hurdy gurdy, and collaborating with lots of local musicians, including Sharde Thomas, Cameron Kimbrough, Cedric Burnside, Pat Thomas.

The whole project has come together incredibly well. It has got this hypnotic drive, atmosphere, with this edge European of experimentalism underpending it under the hurdy gurdy. A marvelous cross-cultural coalition. Beautiful stuff.

Listen at 27:30 (and the rest of the show as well, as Muddy Gurdy is in really great company, including Etta James and Dorothy Love Coates), and John Cushley’s beautiful critique of the project and the album.

And the link to Balling the Jack for more shows…

Muddy Gurdy spinning in Italy

Italian journalist Nicola NiQ Conforti enjoyed Shake Em on Down, one of the songs included in Muddy Gurdy, Hypnotic Wheel’s second album to be released on February 2, 2018, which he played on the 184th of his Blues Top 10 show.

« Muddy Gurdy’s name is inspired by the hurdy gurdy, an instrument with a crank, typical in Europe, » explained Nicola NiQ Conforti.

Go to 9:50:


The CDs made it to France

The Muddy Gurdy CDs made it to France, arriving from the US. A unique project, when French hurdy gurdy meets Mississippi Hill Country.

Official release, with Vizztone, on February 2, 2018.

In Mississippi with Pat Thomas

With Pat Thomas in Leland, Mississippi

Hypnotic Wheels traveled to Leland, Mississippi, for their Muddy Gurdy project. There they met a unique and so very endearing bluesman, Pat Thomas.

« It’s pretty! » said Pat when he saw and heard the hurdy gurdy. He invited the trio, Tia Gouttebel, Gilles Chabenat, and Marc Glomeau, to visit his father (James Son Thomas)’s grave at the cemetary, where he talked about the family history.

Back at the Highway 61 Museum in Leland, where James Moss greated them, the trio recorded a song with Pat for their new album —a very intense moment for the band.

Pat also creates sculptures, like his father did.

You can acquire one of Pat Thomas’ unique art works by participating to the Muddy Gurdy crowdfunding, along with other happies…