Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Rory Block -- "I Belong To The Band: A Tribute to Rev. Gary Davis"

There are many styles of blues out there, from Howlin' Wolf's physicality to Mississippi John Hurt's gentleness, from John Lee Hooker's soulfulness to BB King's urbane embrace. Well, nobody will ever mistake Rory Block for anybody else. Rory has been a singer/acoustic guitar player for over 45 years, and she is without a doubt at the top of the heap of those playing in her style. Furthermore, she has spent a good portion of her career and talent as a musicologist, preserving the delta blues tradition.

This new cd is the third in what Rory calls her "mentor" series saluting blues masters she met in person and greatly influenced her as a musician. It follows the release of similar tributes to Son House and Mississippi Fred McDowell, for which her "Shake 'Em On Down" earned Blues Music Award nominations in the Acoustic Artist and Acoustic Album categories for Rory at the event in Memphis last May 10th. These songs come from a deeply personal place in Rory's own life--she met Rev. Davis at his home in the Bronx, New York, and took lessons from him with Stefan Grossman when she was 14 years old. The liner notes are fascinating as they describe those days.    

This collection is a personal treasure to me, as well, because I have been a fan of the songs of Rev. Gary Davis for my entire ministry. Over the past 25+ years I've sought out these songs, I've listened to them sung by Rev. Davis and Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead and Dave Von Ronk and Jorma Kaukonen and Hot Tuna and a host of others. In good times and difficult times I've clung to the mixture of hope and discovery and faith contained in these songs. Well, let me say it--Rory Block has nailed it here--NAILED IT. Solo guitar and voice, and with both instruments she does beautiful versions of "Sampson and Delilah" and the title track and "Death Don't Have No Mercy" and "I Am The Light Of This World" and "Twelve Gates To The City" and a bunch more. Rev. Gary Davis is smiling from heaven--probably still smoking that cigar, but smiling. 

I love the way Rory Block has done these songs. One great artist carrying forward the words and music of another. You can buy this cd from Rory Block at her website: Better still, see her in person as she tours the US this summer. Her itinerary is at the website.

No comments: