"Little Bit a Blues" is both the name that Warner Williams and Jay Summerour perform under in concert and the title of their new album, a not-so-little collection of down-home country blues.
These Maryland natives are two of a kind -- musicians well-versed in Piedmont guitar-and-harmonica blues styles who are also exponents of a rural songster tradition that has enlivened and enriched their repertoire. As a result, their album finds the pair reprising both familiar blues tunes -- "Good Morning Little School Girl" and "Key to the Highway," among others -- as well as a mixture of playfully reprised folk ballads ("Froggy Went a Courtin' ") and engagingly harmonized novelties ("Shanty in Old Shantytown").
Williams has a nicely weathered voice. His back-porch baritone is well-suited to the songs he and his partner have gathered over the years, and his unfussy guitar solos are largely responsible for the album's rustic, melodic charm. Summerour, meanwhile, contributes soulful counterpoint to Williams's performances, whether underscoring the lyrics with a mournful refrain or engaging the guitarist in a round of call-and-response patterns. Sad or spirited, this music clearly earns the right to sit alongside albums released by such exceptional area bluesmen as John Jackson or Bowling Green John Cephas and Harmonica Phil Wiggins.
Appearing Saturday at Bullfeathers in Gaithersburg. To hear a free Sound Bite from Warner Williams and Jay Summerour, call Post-Haste at 202/334-9000 and press 8104. (Prince William residents, call 690-4110.)