Roots of American Music

DSC00932 Close colorI have been playing music in reputable and not-so-reputable venues for, well, quite some time.  A few years ago, record catalogs started calling the acoustic guitar driven, blues-infused music I play “roots music.” These days, most of my performances are of two shows, Roots of American Music and Greenwich Village-1966.  A third, New Orleans-Melting Pot of American Music is in development.

Roots of American Music

Blues is the roots. All the rest is the fruits. Willie Dixon, the Chicago bluesman said that, and Willie was right. There is one kind of music that was truly born in America, and that’s the blues. Blues gave us jazz, rock ‘n roll, a lot of country music, hip hop, rap and so much more. This presentation takes a journey back to the roots of the blues. We travel in words and music to the streets of New Orleans, up to the pine forests of the North Carolina Piedmont, and to the black soil of the Mississippi delta, where the country blues sprang up and grew into American popular music. See more about this hour-long show here.  There’s a video of the adult presentation that appeared on Twin Cities Community TV HERE.  Many thanks to videographer Scott Jameson for going well above the call of duty in recording it, curating great pictures of the people I sing about, and producing a fine finished product.  I have given a version for young people to over 2,500 kids in Florida as well as adult community groups here in Minnesota and Florida.

Greenwich Village – 1966

In 1965, I moved to Greenwich Village, that magical place of beatniks, suspicious characters, coffee bars before Starbucks, and music.  The Village folk scene was less Michael Row Your Boat Ashore and more discovered music, the kinds people played on their porches and in their parlors before records, radio and TV took over. Love songs, story songs, and with the coming of the Vietnam War, protest songs.  See more about this hour-long show here.

New Orleans-Melting Pot of American Music

The threads of many music traditions were woven together in New Orleans.  Steamy, seamy, and funky.  Home to Acadian, Irish, Spanish, African-American, Carib and American Indian traditions.  New Orleans was and is a melting pot of many traditions in music, food and language.  This presentation combines the music of the Big Easy with short readings from my novel Fatal Score and the short story New Orleans Purgatorio, which was shortlisted for the William Faulkner-William Wisdom fiction prize in 2015.

I am a musician and storyteller living in Golden Valley, Minnesota. I have been playing guitar for over 40 years and been playing blues since it grabbed me by the lapels, spun me around, slammed me down on the ground and said,”This is the kind of music you gonna play.”  I have been a semi-finalist at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, TN and was the 2010 winner of the “I Remember Gamble” contest held in honor of John’s cousin, Gamble Rogers, at the Gamble Rogers Festival in St. Augustine, FL. I have performed for community groups, the Asia Society, senior programs, and holiday get togethers. I have produced two CD’s, Good Old Blues and  Old and New, Borrowed and Blue, which was a semifinalist in the 2011 Blues Challenge ‘best CD’ contest.