When Omnivore Recordings acquired the defunct Nighthawk label in late 2017, fans initially cheered for reggae reissues in 2018. But Nighthawk founder Leroy Jodie Pierson cut his teeth on St. Louis blues. Most impressive is a 75-minute reissue of Pierson’s own 1988 slide-guitar showcase Rusty Nail, newly augmented with classics like “Good Morning Little School Girl.” Pierson also recorded two live sessions of blues elders at Washington University in 1973: the 75-minute The Blues Come Falling Down by Johnny Shines, and the two-disc epic Blues Piano and Guitar by Henry Townsend and Roosevelt Sykes.
Not all of spring’s blues releases are from Omnivore/Nighthawk. Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys shepherded the only recording of Mississippi legend Leo Bud Welch before he passed. The Angels in Heaven Done Signed My Name (Easy Eye Sound) contains only 10 short songs, informed by Welch’s strong Christian faith, but the tracks actively create myth. On the more raucous side, Jimmie Vaughan offers Baby Please Come Home (Last Music), with gems like “Be My Lovey Dovey” that sound like a fine juke joint.