From the coastal towns of Beaufort and New Bern, N.C., cranky 75-year-old Richard “Big Boy” Henry sings the blues the way a retired neighbor warns kids to keep the baseballs and Frisbees from landing in his garden. Possessing a loud and forceful vocal style, Henry creates new songs by weaving together existing blues verses and familiar melodies. Though geographically closest to the Piedmont, his musical influences span regional styles: Blind Boy Fuller (Piedmont), Lightnin’ Hopkins (Texas), and Big Bill Broonzy (Chicago). Arthritis prevents Henry from playing guitar in his live performances, but he plays electric guitar on four cuts on the album. His playing on “Miss Lucy Gray” and “Lookin’ for Me at Midnight” is reminiscent of that of Roebuck “Pops” Staples, while his guitar work and vocal delivery on “Rocky Mountain” and “Main Street Woman” show a distinct Lightnin’ Hopkins influence. Like Staples and Hopkins, Henry changes chords “when it feels right” instead of adhering to a 12-bar format. He is supported throughout the album by Lightnin’ Wells, an accomplished and respectful accompanist, on acoustic and National guitars. Several tracks feature mandolin, bass, washboard, and harmonica, recreating the dance rhythms and instrumentation of a Piedmont house party. On “Let Me Go Home Gin,” Henry attempts to convince the police of the medicinal properties of moonshine before being carted off to spend a night in the clink. Big Boy Henry is a regional treasure, recognized with a North Carolina Folk Heritage award, and this outstanding release will certainly bring him national attention.—Matt Watson