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Tom Hall has been playing the blues around St. Louis for two decades, in recent years concentrating mostly on solo acoustic performances of the sort documented on his new CD, Right Down There on Lee Street. Listen to the album or attend Hall's release party, and you'll hear a musician who's painstakingly worked his way through imitation and assimilation of the blues tradition to develop his own sound. Not unlike early Ry Cooder, Leo Kottke or David Lindley, at his best Hall mixes and matches bits of the roots-music vernacular to create something fresh from the familiar. His comfy-old-shoe vocals will never be mistaken for pretty, but they carry the music effectively and without pretension. And Hall's guitar playing is first-rate, featuring an encyclopedic grasp of the blues vocabulary and clean, rhythmically precise picking that touches a variety of stylistic bases while retaining plenty of soul.
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