Danny Kroha has recently been spending time learning and recording more traditional folk, blues, and gospel tunes from the public domain. His upcoming Detroit Blues could be considered part two of his debut solo LP, Angels Watching Over Me.
In his own words, “It was me in a room playing acoustic instruments and doing my own arrangements of some old songs.”
Not so fast, buddy! When you hear this record and dig a little deeper into the facts, you’ll have a heightened awareness of the sonic beauty found in the simplicity. On many of these traditional songs, Danny dropped, added or rearranged verses from various sources, mixing up music from one song and words from another creating his own amalgamation of early blues and country.
Keep your ears peeled for familiar and wild homemade sounds. There’s a DIY one string washtub bass made from a fire snake rail-heater that can found on some railroad tracks. There’s a lot of jug bass, blowing the bass notes over the jug opening, frequently heard in early rural American music but also with the 13th Floor Elevators, who ran their jug through an amplifier. The one string guitar, aka The Diddley Bow, on “Come Out Of The Wilderness” is rare, aside from Danny, one of the last times we heard one was on One String Sam’s “I Need A Hundred Dollars.” You have your traditional assortment of washboards, tambourine and other percussion instruments, but during one session, Danny and the album supervisor tried out several pairs of Danny’s work boots to find the best tone for the foot stomps. We’ll report back soon on what brand was chosen.
Instead of following all the rules rooted in early blues and old time country, Danny Kroha mixed up all the traditions and kicked out a new old sound that could really only happen in Detroit – “I listen to both genres, for sure. I just wasn’t TRYING to make a record that sounds like that. It just came out more like a field recording than a studio recording.”