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Washington, D.C., Washington, D.C., United States

Washington, D.C., Washington, D.C., United States
Band Blues Acoustic


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This band has not uploaded any videos




IN the 1960's, many folk singers were drawn to the ragtime- style, seemingly relaxed Piedmont country-blues. They would have learned quite a bit from the performances by John Cephas and Phil Wiggins over the weekend at the Alternative Museum.

Without raising their voices or punishing their instruments, the duo showed just how much feeling the Piedmont blues can hold.

On Sunday, every song was an intricate tangle of melodies. While Mr. Cephas plucked syncopations on the guitar - bass lines with his thumb below twangy, finger-picking riffs - he sang in shifting counterpoint with Mr. Wiggins's harmonica lines. It was smooth yet volatile; a pause or a sudden accent could completely change a well-worn blues lyric.

Mr. Wiggins's harmonica can evoke an oom-pahing accordion or a clarinet, as well as train whistles and hoot owls, but even his most virtuosic playing served to enfold Mr. Cephas's warm, deep voice. Mr. Cephas's gentle singing, particularly in his desolate slow blues, suggested the calm of a man at peace with mortality.

More - New York Times

"Eleanor Ellis: Comin' A Time"

Comin’ a Time is an 18-track tribute to the
Piedmont style of blues as performed by longtime blues scholar and musician Eleanor Ellis. She covers Skip James, Memphis Minnie and Kansas Jack, Mississippi John Hurt, Blind Boy Fuller, Sleepy John Estes, and others in her heartfelt and well-rendered versions of blues classics learned in her travels and in the barbershop of Archie Edwards. Edwards was a teacher, barber, and bluesman who became close friends and performing partners with John Hurt and Skip James during their last days in Washington, DC. On Saturdays his barbershop became a blues house where local and traveling blues musicians would drop in to jam and tell stories. Ellis was a regular at the Saturday jam sessions, and after Edwards died she helped establish the Archie Edwards Blues Heritage Foundation, dedicated to preserving the musical heritage of the Piedmont Blues. This style, also known as East Coast blues, started in the area between the Atlantic Coastal Plain and Appalachian Mountains from central Georgia to central Virginia. The Piedmont guitar style combines intricate finger picking with a regular, alternating thumb bass line. There are some great tunes on this CD. Being a big fan of Skip James, I’m especially partial to track 3, “Cypress Grove,” and track 15, “Special Rider.” The bones, as played by Richard “Mr. Bones” Thomas, make the Sleepy John Estes song “Diving Duck” a personal favorite, and who doesn’t like a good version of Jim Jackson’s “Kansas City”? Fact is, Ellis does a fine job on all the tracks on Comin' a Time.

- Victory Review - Acoustic Music Magazine

"Frsnklin & Baytop; Eleanor Ellis" - Acusticher Blues


Recordings –
* Phil Wiggins - Cephas and Wiggins
Richmond Blues
Shoulder to Shoulder
Together in Las Vegas
Somebody Told the Truth
Cool Down Dog
Days of August
Flip, Flop, and Fly
From Richmond to Atlanta
Guitar Man

* Eleanor Ellis
Comin' A Time

* Rick Franklin
Searching For Frank
Doin' the Dozens
Hokum Blues

* Thomas "Hamphat" Cox
Tuna Tonight
Various CD/albums by Washington DC artists
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Blending blues and country, the Shackbreakers bring an undeniable edge to their music with finger lickin' treatments of tunes by the likes of Memphis Minnie, Furry Lewis, Hank Williams, Charley Patton, Lonnie Johnson and more. Eleanor Ellis combines the rich musical heritage of her native Louisiana with a powerful attraction to the music of the old country blues masters. Rick Franklin’s influences include ragtime, country string bands, traveling medicine shows, and popular song of the early 20th century. Phil Wiggins' harmonica sound developed from listening to piano and horn players, as well as the music of Sonny Terry, Sonny Boy Williamson, Little Walter, Big Walter Horton and Junior Wells. Phil also apprenticed with Mother Scott (a contemporary of Bessie Smith). Besides being a renowned harmonica player, Wiggins is also a gifted songwriter and singer. Thomas “Hamphat” Cox is a native from Washington DC and found music at an early age while accompanying his parents to Red Foley concerts. He’s been on acoustic, electric and washtub bass since he was 15 years old.