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I started a quest to find terrific blues music and incredible musicianship when I was just a little kid. I also have a tremendous appreciation of fine musical instruments and equipment. One of my greatest joys all of my life was sharing my finds with my friends. I'm now publishing my journey. I hope that you come along!

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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

You Got to Move - Rev. Charlie Jackson

Rev. Charlie Jackson (1932-2006) was a distinctly powerful guitar evangelist who devoted his life to singing and preaching the gospel, particularly throughout Louisiana and Mississippi. His 45s for the Booker and Jackson labels, with songs such as "God's Got It" and "Wrapped Up Tangled Up in Jesus," are frequently cited as a pinnacle of raw, impassioned, bluesy gospel music.

Beginning sometime around the early 1970s, he often documented the church services at which he participated with a portable cassette recorder. Over the years, he accumulated an extensive archive of recordings that were mostly made by himself, Frances Jackson, or Laura Davis Jackson, with a local professional occasionally hired to record a noteworthy service. These tapes would primarily serve as mementos, as well as tools through which he could evaluate his performances. Selections might have been included on the cassettes that Rev. Jackson sometimes sold, but it seems these were most often keepsakes for casual posterity.

As one might expect from such informal recordings, idiosyncrasies abound. The recorder gets jostled, members of the congregation boisterously testify, and the microphone sometimes becomes overloaded. A few of the older cassettes needed to be repaired before they would even play.

Sonic quirks notwithstanding, these tapes contain a wealth of outstanding performances. They also provide a valuable opportunity to take a broad survey of Rev. Jackson’s music over roughly a 30-year period and obtain a much more detailed and vivid picture of the vibrant gospel community in which he traveled, something that was only hinted at by his commercial recordings. Listening to these performances, one can hear why Rev. Jackson was so in-demand: no matter the situation or the size of the congregation, he sounds fully engaged, with a sense of sacred duty.
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