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Sammy Walker

Brown Eyed Georgia Darlin' – 2016 (Ramseur)

Reviewed by Lee Zimmerman

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CDs by Sammy Walker

Chances are, you could scan any number of history books detailing the development of modern folk music, from its heyday in the late '50s until the present, and you'd find little, if any mention of Sammy Walker. A native of Georgia and current resident of North Carolina, Walker recorded for Folkways Records prior to signing to Warner at the behest of label head Mo Ostin, while reaping the praise of no less an icon than Phil Ochs in the process. Singing of the trouble and strife that was so prevalent in that bygone era - the mid '70s in particular - Walker's steady strum, blustery harmonica and folksy vocals brought him an uncanny resemblance to Bob Dylan. In the case of "Brown Eyed Georgia Darlin,'" even a cursory listen to the title track or "Days I Left Behind" leaves that unmistakable impression.

Granted, the stripped-down settings accentuate that similarity. A collection of the demos that garnered Walker his Warners deal, the songs still sound as potent now as they did back in the day. And while Dylan is an obvious point of reference, Walker also bears a similar sound and style to Woody Guthrie and Arlo Guthrie, a point reinforced throughout. In listening to "Talkin' Women's Lib" and "I Ain't Got Time To Kill" in particular, one could easily be forgiven for falling prey to mistaken identity.

Ultimately, that could lack of a more specific niche may have limited Walker's chances for greater success. He continued to record sporadically, but after his career ended, he spent much of his time behind the counter as a convenience store clerk. Sadder still, after arthritis took hold, his playing days were ended forever. Ultimately then, "Brown Eyed Georgia Darlin'" is an interesting relic, a document that details what might have been had fate offered the bigger break.