Baptist Town

Baptist Town is a small community surrounded by the larger, more affluent city of Greenwood, Miss., where the fabled bluesman Robert Johnson was murdered in 1938. The album of the same name is a compendium of Southern roots, gospel and blues storytelling (e.g., hoodoo and voodoo men, running from the devil, evading a prison farm whipping), all delivered with appropriate enthusiasm by a handful of background vocalists, a church choir and special guests—David Hidalgo on accordion on “Bess”; Robert Cray on guitar on the title track. On the rousing first track, guitarist/vocalist Mike Eldred and his trio (bassist John Bazz and drummer Jerry Angel) celebrate a night of mischief and mayhem that details just how much trouble a guy can get into being drunk and having “a messed up plan an’ a hunder-dollar bill.” Eldred said, “we wanted to make a record that reflected the soul of the South.” Except for the ominous “Kill My Woman” and the Beatles’ “Can’t Buy Me Love,” I’d say they realized it.