“A Spoonful Blues” by Charley Patton

While John Fahey was working on the set of songs that included “Sunny Side of the Ocean,” for The Transfiguration of Blind Joe Death (1965), he was completing his master’s thesis in folklore at the University of California at Berkeley, the first biography and analysis of the work of blues guitarist/singer Charley Patton.  It was published in … Continue reading “A Spoonful Blues” by Charley Patton

“On the Sunny Side of the Ocean” by John Fahey

Beginning in 1959, John Fahey’s “Blind Joe Death” excursions for solo acoustic guitar were the first to radically reconsider traditional blues and old-time music, extending by personalizing what Harry Smith did with the Anthology of American Folk Music (1952): rather than mythologizing what at that time was a largely unknown recorded legacy, as Smith did, Fahey … Continue reading “On the Sunny Side of the Ocean” by John Fahey

“High Water (for Charley Patton)” by Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan is the rare artist who, at 75, retains the power, energy, and restlessness that distinguished his early work.  As both a recording and performing artist, his electricity is unabated, and he continues to make vibrant contributions to the post-folk culture he virtually created.  That he has achieved this is astounding; for those of us who have … Continue reading “High Water (for Charley Patton)” by Bob Dylan

“Traveling Riverside Blues” by Robert Johnson

On the heels of Benny Goodman’s concert at Carnegie Hall in January 1938, promoter/producer John Hammond (Billie Holliday, Bessie Smith, Count Basie, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Ray Vaughan…unbelievable) conceived of a concert that would further acknowledge the debt American music owed its roots, within the hallowed walls of the Hall. Race relations being what … Continue reading “Traveling Riverside Blues” by Robert Johnson