Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music
(b James Rachell, 16 March '10, Brownsville TN; d 9 April '97) Blues singer and multi- instrumentalist, playing guitar, harmonica and violin, but his first instrument was mandolin. Encouraged to learn music by an uncle, he traded a pig for a mandolin when he was eight years old; his mother said, 'Next fall when we're all eatin' pork you can eat that mandolin.' His superb playing of it brought a uniquely sweet rural flavour to his blues, a reminder of how black and white musicians infl. one another until marketing put the blues on one side and the white string bands on the other. Infl. by Sleepy John Estes, recording with him on Victor '29; recorded for ARC labels '34, Bluebird '41; he made his home in Indiana, and was rediscovered '60s with Estes and others. Albums incl. Mandolin Blues (acoustic, with Estes, Mike Bloomfield and others) and Yank Rachell -- Chicago Style (electric, quartet) on Delmark, a guitar album on Yazoo's Blue Goose label, Blues Mandolin Man on Blind Pig, and duo Pig Trader Blues on Slippery Noodle (named after an Indianapolis club), made in Summitville IN '94--5 with guitarist David Morgan.