Bentonia Blues

A black cat stares out from the front porch of blues singer Jack Owens as he plays his dark and haunting blues with harmonica accompanist Bud Spires. Owens, whose canon of songs comes from the minor-keyed Bentonia tradition made famous by the delta legend Skip James, sings in his signature song, «It must have been the devil, changed that woman’s mind/ I’d rather be the devil than to be that woman’s friend.» Songs in the Bentonia tradition are suffused with brooding images of the supernatural. Robert Johnson drew from this tradtion in composing his most haunting blues, «Hellhound on my trail.»