I love this place! I can't think of more appropriate venue for some 'Front Porch Blues' than the Cedar Cultural Center. Tonight is even more exciting for me as they have booked Rory Block. I have really been anticipating the return of this blues purest. After introducing myself to the Cedars operation manager, David Alderson and Rory's sound man / travel manager / bus driver and I guess all-around right hand man, Rob Davis and finding out about the show, taking pictures and meeting the lady, we sat our self's
right up front. We were expecting a great show and blues fans, we were not disappointed!
7:30 PM and it's show time. Out trots Rory Block, dressed in a black blouse, leather pants and suede high heals. This lean woman makes a striking figure opening the show with two a copula songs, "A Wayfaring Stranger" and a song made with her son Jordon, "Aint No Grave Going To Hold My Body Down". The songs had a 'Field Holler ' texture to them and were very moving. Rory next takes her chair, announcing she will play some blues - and play some blues she does! This lady is very animated! She reminds me
of Son House the way she almost attracts her vocals and guitar, twitching and bouncing her knees and stomping her feet. We are treated to a few slide guitar numbers - "Preaching Blues"(Son House), "If I Had Possession Over Judgment Day" and "Terraplane Blues"(Robert Johnson). Rory removed the slide for "Statesboro Blues"(Blind Willie McTell) and played without it until into the second set.
What a treasure we have in this lady. We hear traditional Piedmont and Delta blues, a couple of spirituals, field hollers, folk songs passed on from her parents, sadder songs linked to personal memories, tales about her (our) life and stories about old New York City friends (Al Wilson-Canned Heat) and her coming of age in this music affair - all told / sung as she keeps tuning her guitar. Rory played for two plus hours with one break and
one encore to a respectable sized house and was well received with an abundance of cheers, clapping hands and people rising to their feet.
I did a internet search on Rory and she has a nice web site with more info then I can print here, but quickly check out a sample of her resume: four time Handy Award Winner, three time NAIRD Award winner, Crossroads Music Award winner and Camma Hall Of Fame inductee just as starters. Also grand reviews by The New York Times, Guitar Extra, Berkeley Press, Blues Review, People Magazine, Rolling stone and Bonnie Raitt...well you get the picture, right? She has fourteen albums to her credit and has recorded with and/or performed with Bonnie Raitt, John Sebastian, Stevie Wonder, Keb Mo and Koko
Taylor. This all started in Greenwich Village where Rory's father owned a sandal shop frequented by Bob Dylan and Joan Baez, although Rory was more impressed by the visits of John Hurt, Son House and Fred McDowell (this we can plainly see).
If the folk songs and stories are you bag you are in the right place. I admit though, I'm a bit biased towards her blues interpretations of Tommy Johnson's "Big Road Blues," Mississippi John Hurts version of "Frankie and Albert" and Robert Johnson's "Come Into My Kitchen." Either way, this was an awesome show...Thanks Rory Block.
Trust me...Don't miss this acoustic blues legend next time!
This review is copyright © 2001 by Al Rohweder, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved. Copy, duplication or download prohibited without written permission. For permission to use this review please send an E-mail to Ray Stiles.