Piedmont folk-blues: Ernest Troost, Cephas & Wiggins, & Etta Baker


Piedmont blues legend Etta Baker.

I recently heard folk-blues singer-songwriter Ernest Troost’s new album “O Love” and loved it. I found myself drawn into the world of old screen doors and broken hearts being mended through the only thing that can heal, love. The only song from the album on YouTube is “Close” but please check out this album. The title track “O Love” is my favorite.

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Back to basics: The blues with Ali Farka Touré

“The blues tells a story. Every line of the blues has a meaning.” ~John Lee Hooker

Ali Farka Touré was born near Timbuktu in Mali, West Africa in 1939. He’s known for his electric guitar style which was his own unique blend of Malian folk styles and American blues. He had a hypnotic droning style often compared to John Lee Hooker, though I find him more similar to the style of North Mississippi bluesman Junior Kimbrough. Below I’ve included videos from both. The world lost Ali in 2006, but his spirit lives on through his music, musicians he influenced, and his son Vieux Farka Touré, who while carrying the seeds of his father’s music, is forging his own musical identity.
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Mysteries & Legends: Django Reinhardt, Tommy Johnson, Robert Johnson, & the unidentified photo

Recently someone I know who works for a great program for up and coming musician kids, Grammy Camp, sent me an old photograph of a guitar player. It originated from the now defunct Museum of Rock Art in Hollywood. He wanted to know if I could identify the musician either just by knowing him or at least identify the guitar he was playing. I hadn’t a clue so I sent it out to some knowledgeable music folks on my twitter page and got a bevy on answers from some great people (by the way check them out on my twitter list called “music peeps“). Here’s the photograph:

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Can’t get enough of Texas…part 2 (blues)

I’m back to finish my love letter to Texas by recognizing the Lone Star State’s contribution to the blues. I love the blues and you know that if you read my post on slide guitar. Some of the blues legends to emerge from deep in the heart of Texas: Blind Lemon Jefferson, Blind Willie Johnson, Leadbelly, Lightin’ Hopkins, T-Bone Walker, Big Mama Thorton, Albert Collins, Freddie King, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Johnny and Edgar Winter, ZZ Top, Janis Joplin, Doyle Bramhall II, and Los Lonely Boys, among others. Let’s take a look at some of these folks.

Lighting Hopkins

As I read about the lives and deaths of some of the early blues musicians, it really pained me to hear about the intense suffering many endured. Blues music was born as a way to express and communicate the everyday life of poor African-Americans living in the South at the end of the 19th century. A folk tradition born from the creative soul of a people who suffered the unimaginable, the blues gave voice to the voiceless. While most good blues really touches that part of our soul that knows deeply what it means to hurt, there is a sound in those early songs that is truly haunting in its ability to convey the human condition at its most vulnerable.
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