Calling himself “the cosmic American love child of Howlin’ Wolf and Link Wray,” Alvin Youngblood Hart has processed a great deal of American roots music and is equally at home playing deep Delta blues, Western Swing, or straight-ahead arena rock ’n roll, and can do so on many different stringed instruments.
He was born in Oakland in 1963 to southern transplants and made frequent trips back to Carroll County Mississippi where he heard blues played by relatives and neighbors. But of course as a child of the ’60s he was also exposed to Jimi Hendrix, The Grateful Dead, and also the urban blues of Maxwell Street, after a family move to Chicago.
In 1996 he released his debut recording, Big Mama’s Door, and won a W.C. Handy award the following year for Best New Artist. Territory, released in 1999, was named Best Blues Album of the Year by Downbeat magazine. Then he won a Grammy in 2004 for his contributions to the compilation Beautiful Dreamer: The Music of Stephen Foster.
Hart was featured in the 2003 Wim Wenders lm The Soul of a Man, and also in the documentary Last of the Mississippi Jukes. In 2007, he appeared in the film The Great Debaters, playing the role of a 1930s juke-joint blues man.
With Jimbo Mathus and Luther Dickinson, Hart formed The South Memphis String Band and with them issued two albums, Home Sweet Home, and, Old Times There. When not breaking new ground with old music, Hart also performs with his powerhouse electric trio, Muscle Theory.