Saturday, November 15, 2008

Concert Report - Rory Block @ Tupelo Music Hall

We were back at the Tupelo Music Hall last night for a nearly two-hour solo set by Rory Block, a master of the Mississippi Delta Country Blues style.

Rory Block at Tupelo Music Hall, November 14, 2008

Patti and I have seen Rory, oh I dunno, maybe five or six times going back to around 1990 or 1991. Each time I am struck by both her mastery of the acoustic blues, as well as her encyclopedic knowledge of the blues masters. She is a walking history book, telling tales of Robert Johnson, Son House, Muddy Waters, Mississippi John Hurt, Reverend Gary Davis, and others. Some of this is first-hand knowledge, as she left home at the age of 15 to seek out and learn from the blues pioneers who were still alive. Her stories give insight into the men and the music. I never tire of hearing her compare and contrast the guitar styles of Robert Johnson and Son House, or of her demonstration of how to find the tuning for old country blues songs.

Patti and I were right up front at Table 3, and my seat couldn't have been but about six feet from her. I was so close that I was hesitant to take too many photos, but you can see how close I was from the photo at left, as well as three others I posted to Flickr.

As is typical of her shows, the set started with a bunch of Robert Johnson and Son House tunes. We also got our fair share of her own songs, including "Lovin' Whisky", "Like a Shotgun", and at fan request both "Silver Wings" and "Gypsie Boy." She told a wonderful story of Stevie Wonder singing on the latter tune on her 1986 I've Got a Rock in My Sock album. (Side note: David Bromberg and Taj Mahal also appear on that album.)

As with most artists these days, you can get a good feel for their live shows from YouTube. If you aren't familiar with Rory, here are a couple of clips to get you started:

The set list:

Crossroad Blues (Robert Johnson)
County Farm (Son House)
Me and the Devil (Robert Johnson)
Death Letter (Son House)
Preaching Blues (Son House)
Rambling on My Mind (Robert Johnson)
Lovin' Whiskey
Don't You Mind People Grinning In Your Face (Son House)
Like a Shotgun
I Be Bound (Muddy Waters)
From the Dust
Silver Wings
Gypsie Boy
Encore (a cappella): Ain't No Grave Gonna Hold My Body Down (Claude Ely)

No comments: