Smokin’ Blues

In 1962, Bo Diddley recorded “You Can’t Judge a Book by Its Cover,” and his advice certainly pertains to this CD, a solo effort by guitarist Mark T. Small. Judging from its cover photo, Small looks like he’s playing at a fever pitch with his amp on 11. The photo, however, doesn’t do justice to the music on the disc, which features Small playing acoustic guitar on a batch of classics by Tampa Red (“Sell My Monkey”), Rev. Gary Davis (“Lamp Trimmed and Burning”), Charley Patton (“Stone Pony Blues”) and others. This CD, he says, “is a sampler of the guitar grooves that make up my solo show,” and adds that his “hard driving focus is a major component of my overall style.” No kiddin’. The 56-year-old guitarist really goes to town on Sam McGee’s “Railroad Blues,” a magnificent display of flat-picking virtuosity to which he’s added “some fancy turns from my bluegrass days.” John Lee Hooker’s “My Daddy Was a Jockey” gets a lively treatment as do “Step It Up & Go” (a big hit for Blind Boy Fuller in 1940), and Rufus Thomas’s “Walkin’ the Dog.” An enjoyable CD that’s worth searching for.