Yank Rachell, The Blues Mandolin Man
Born on March 16th, 1910 near Brownsville, Tennessee
Passed on April 9th at his Indianapolis, Indiana home

Yank was one of the seminal figures in country blues with a unique style of singing and mandolin playing. He was not only a wonderful, powerful singer and player, but also a natural songwriter. He influenced many well-known performers over the course of his lengthy career.

Yank was born on March 16, 1910, in a sharecropper's shack near Brownsville, Tennessee. He was a barbecue cook, a chauffeur, a laborer on the railroad, but he never left his musical heritage far behind.

Along with Sleepy John Estes and Hammy Nixon, his original musical partners, Yank developed a style that defined blues with the mandolin. The instrument and his singing were a perfect marriage.

"Mr. Yank" helped many young blues artists, both black and white. He saw no color barrier -- all musicians were the same inside. He said this all his life.

Last summer, The Webstone Group and CAS Productions produced, "Too Hot For The Devil," an album of Yank's original music played in the old, authentic style--"true, live acoustic music" -- no studio tricks.

Pat Webb had known Yank for 30 years, had played with him off and on while pursuing his own career. Allen Stratyner, had worked with Yank for over 20 years. Both of these musicians, highly respected by their peers, were thrilled with the opportunity to perform with Yank on what, sadly, was to be his final recording session.

Yank wrote and performed two songs on this album in tribute to his collaborators: "The Pat Webb Blues" and "Blues for Allen Stratyner." Upon hearing the final mix Yank remarked, "That's it. That's as good as it gets!"

What happened at those sessions during the hot summer of '96 was a magical coming together of three unique and accomplished artists who created an event--a musical legacy for all times.

With "Too Hot For The Devil," Yank comes full circle, expressing his early roots--capturing the sound he cut his teeth on--delivered as a legacy for his children, grandchildren, and the many friends and fans who will miss him.

The title of the album comes from one of the songs, "Too Hot For The Devil." In the song, Yank sings "Hello world! Has anybody seen my Ida B? The gal is too hot for the devil, but God knows she's just right for me."

Yank's mind never slipped, even to the end. Pat Webb, Allen Stratyner, and Rick Estrin (of Little Charlie and the Nightcats) spent some of the last weekend of Yank's life at his home, playing and singing the best blues and gospel songs they knew, including "Summertime," Yank's favorite Pat Webb/Allen Stratyner rendition. Also, Yank and Rick jammed on "Juke," Little Walter's harmonica national anthem and another of Yank's favorites.

Yank told them that he was not afraid to die--"dying is just a part of living." Yank said he was tired and was ready to meet his wife and sons in heaven. He had great courage.

Al Stone

CAS Productions