Though Chicago-style electric blues and Mississippi Delta blues have received the most amount of attention, they often overshadow a more subtle variety of the blues: Piedmont Blues. Etta Baker, who passed away in September at the age of 93, came from this line. The Piedmont region encompasses The Carolinas, Virginia, and Georgia.
The Piedmont Blues style is characterized by alternating-bass style guitar playing. In other words, the guitar player simultaneously plays the bass AND the treble. If you hear someone playing this style well, it will “sound easy.” However, you need to listen carefully to appreciate that the bass and the treble lines are played by a single individual. Sometimes it sounds like there are actually two guitars. Interestingly, this genre of the blues has an influence by both Whites and Blacks- contrary to the Delta version which seems to have been solely Black. To learn more about this style, this webpage, by students at UNC-Asheville proves to be a nice resource.
Anyway, Etta Baker was one of the finest in the Piedmont tradition. Her music is a little different because she does not usually sing- she let her guitar sing instead. Here is Baker performing a live version of One Dime Blues from the Florida Folk Life Collection. Additionally, here is an interview with Etta Baker and a memorial from NPR.
Tags: Etta Baker, Piedmont Blues
After the last post’s call out for regional greats, I received an email about The Wandering Sons. They are a soulful alt-country/folk group from Wisconsin. Their sound reminds me a little bit of Fastball, Jakob Dylan, and surprisingly even Zachary Richard. The Wandering Sons has the soul and feel of a singer-songwriter guitarist with a backing band. I wasn’t able to find a bio on the group, so if you have any more information about them, please post or email me. The songs that I particularly like are Thousands of Honest People and Gettin’ By.
Related Tags: Wandering Sons, Fastball, Jakob Dylan, Zachary Richard, The Wandering Sons, regional music
Zachary Richard sounds a bit like Jackson Browne meets Springsteen, except the music is in French. Believe it or not, Richard is American born and raised. However, he does have a long history of Cajun roots. Richard has not hit the main stream stateside, though he seems to be popular in French-Canada and France. So, I thought it would be great to feature some of his songs. They are heartfelt and emotional. Here are some live performance videos (they are 20 or so megs each, but the image size is quite small): Cap Enrage and La Ballade de Jean Batailleur
I have no idea what he is singing about. If you speak French, let me know. Anyway, I think that he really deserves to have his sound heard. Know of other regional greats (from anywhere in the world)? let me know.
Related Tags: Zachary Richard, Cajun, Cajun Music, music
I don’t think good music has be obscure. That is why I encourage the younger readers/musicians of this blog to enter a contest by the BBC World Service. The BBC is looking for the World’s Best Young Band. Entrants have to be aged 18 or under, unsigned with original music. Any style, any language. From anywhere in the world. Once the entrants have been shortlisted by global music industry experts we they be bringing together a panel of star judges. And they will choose The World’s Best Young Band from 6 finalists recorded live at the world famous BBC Maida Vale studios.The project is called ‘The Next Big Thing’ and the websites are here and here. And, if you enter, let me know. I may be able to feature your music on this website. Get your music heard.
Related Tags: Music, BBC, BBC World Service, contest