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August 24 8:00 pm
Rory Block has committed her life to the Delta blues. A traditionalist and an innovator at the same time, she wields a fiery and haunting guitar and vocal style that redefines the boundaries of acoustic blues and folk. “Her playing is perfect,” according to the New York Times, “her singing otherworldly as she wrestles with ghosts, shadows, and legends.” Growing up in Greenwich Village, she started playing guitar at ten, took the subway to the Bronx for lessons in blues and gospel from the Reverend Gary Davis, swapped stories and guitar licks with seminal bluesman Son House—“he kept asking, ‘Where did she learn to play like this?’”—visited Skip James in the hospital after his cancer surgery, and traveled to Washington, D.C., to visit Mississippi John Hurt and absorb first-hand his technique and creativity. Rolling Stone described her 1981 breakthrough album, High Heeled Blues, as “some of the most singular and affecting country blues anyone—man or woman, black or white, old or young—has cut in recent years.”
Since then, she’s recorded close to thirty albums, playing with such artists as Bonnie Raitt, Stevie Wonder, Taj Mahal, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Keb Mo, and Mark Knopfler. Her new album, I Belong to the Band, is a tribute to the Reverend Gary Davis. “As far as I'm concerned,” says a reviewer in Fame, “this is the pinnacle of the woman's career . . . It may be that Rory Block has redefined what it means to pay proper tribute to the elder masters . . . hauntingly accurate, soul deep.” If you’ve already seen her on stage, there’s nothing more to say.
If you haven’t seen her yet and have a hankering for the blues, chances are you’ll love Rory Block.
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Photo by Shonna Valeski
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