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The Blue And Gold | When The Levee Breaks: Exclusive Premiere

The Vancouver blues duo pay an authentic tribute to the legendary Memphis Minnie.

The Blue And Gold transport you back to the headwaters of the blues with their old-school rendition of When The Levee Breaks — premiering exclusively on Tinnitist.

The second single from the Vancouver duo’s self-titled debut album (set for release on April 29), When The Levee Breaks — rustically but beautifully hewn from little more than a nimbly finger-picked acoustic guitar, a scrappy bare-bones rhythm section and some tangy honey-rasp vocals — is a magnificently reverent reinterpretation of the country blues classic cut by Memphis Minnie nearly a century ago in 1929.

“Born in 1897 in Algiers, Louisiana, Memphis Minnie was one of the earliest blues guitarists on recording and one of the most prolific musicians of her era,” says guitarist Trish Klein, who makes up The Blue And Gold with singer Ndidi O. “She wrote and recorded over 200 songs, and was an intricate guitarist and innovator — her up-the-neck guitar solos are considered visionary and ahead of their time. Her songs have been covered by the likes of Led Zeppelin, Jefferson Airplane, Fleetwood Mac, Taj Mahal, Muddy Waters, Alabama Shakes and many others. Her impact on the evolution of blues music cannot be overstated. We are honoured to be releasing a version of her classic song When The Levee Breaks.”

Like Levee, the bulk of The Blue And Gold’s eponymous album pays homage to the profound influence of black female artists on 20th century country-blues — and on the evolution of all modern music. The album contains 11 songs recorded with authenticity, soulfulness and grit, reinterpreting the works of pioneering female artists like Memphis Minnie, Lottie Kimbrough, Mamie Forehand, Jessie Mae Hemphill, Sister Rosetta Tharpe and others, along with a song by the legendary Indigenous songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie.

The Blue And Gold is a musical collaboration between Juno-nominated WCMA Blues Artist Of The Year Ndidi O (aka Ndidi Onukwulu) and folk-roots guitarist/banjo player Klein (Be Good Tanyas, Frazey Ford, Po’ Girl). They were both established artists when they met in Paris while going through turbulent times. In Parisian street cafes, alleyway bars and traditional hammams, their friendship was fused, and the idea of a collaboration began. Back in Vancouver during the pandemic winter of 2020, they began exploring the lives and music of under-recognized female blues artists. This inspiring journey led to the creation of their debut album.

The Blue And Gold was recorded at Vancouver’s premiere analogue facility Monarch Studios with engineer Olivia Quan, bassist Darren Parris and drummer Flavio Cirrulo. It was mixed in Nashville at Resistor Studios by engineer/producer Joshua Grange (kd lang, Lucinda Williams, Sheryl Crow). When The Levee Breaks will be available on April 1 on Spotify, Apple Music/iTunes, and other digital retailers and streaming services worldwide.

Listen to the track above, check out The Blue And Gold’s previous single Honey In The Rock below, and follow them on Instagram and Twitter.