I'm really not a huge fan of live albums. I own maybe two dozen tops and even that is probably a generous number. However every now and then a live album stands the test of time and acts as a brilliant snapshot of an artist at the top of their game. This is one of those albums.
Sonny Terry is one of the greatest harmonica players of all time. Once he lost his sight in his teen years he was forced to earn his living through music. He started out playing harp for Blind Boy Fuller. But when Fuller passed away he would bounce around until forming a working relationship with guitarist Brownie McGhee that would last for parts of four decades. Brownie McGhee was a prolific songwriter and when formed with Terry they created a lethal one-two Piedmont-style blues combo.
Live at The New Penelope Cafe was recorded February 7, 1967 (damn should have made this album of the day two days ago!) in Montreal. You've got to love Canada. They've gone out of their way over the last 40 or so years to embrace forms of music that mainstream America chose to either donwplay or ignore completely. The Blues was no exception to that and many Blues musicians found regular gigs north of the border when they couldn't get any here or were simply underpaid. As far as live Blues Recordings go (meaning concert albums not old original "live" recordings) this is one of the best. It really does sound like these guys were just playing for a small room of friends without even knowing they were being recorded. It's loose and lively the way you imagined their shows would have been. It's the perfect snapshot of both artist's talents and a good starter piece for anyone just discovering either of them.