The ‘60s revived the careers of many early bluesmen, but none so dramatically as that of Mississippi John Hurt. Hurt recorded a few brilliant sides in the ’20s, then ostensibly disappeared off the face of the Earth until folk musician Tom Hoskins went looking for him in 1963. At the age of 70, Hurt began one of the greatest comebacks in music history. From his first ’60s shows until his death in 1966, Hurt was a popular mainstay of the folk-music circuit. TODAY! demonstrates why the audiences loved him so. More a melodic songster than a traditional bluesman, Hurt has a great deal in common with ’60s folk musicians-many of whom he inspired. Hurt’s dexterous and beautiful finger-picking style provided aspiring folk performers with a template, as did his warm and gentle stage presence.
All these elements are amply evident on TODAY!, on which Hurt turns in definitive performances of “Pay Day,” “Louis Collins,” “Spike Driver’s Blues,” and “Make Me a Pallet on Your Floor.” He even takes a rare (and successful) turn at slide guitar on “Talking Casey.” Like all of Hurt’s Vanguard albums, TODAY! is an absolutely essential document of a great American artist.