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Monday May 22, 2017
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Rory Block

 

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in especially interesting ways is Aurora "Rory" Block, who grew up in New York's Little Italy, encountered the roots of American music in Washington Square Park, and heard the 1964 compilation album Really the Country Blues — "and from that moment on my life was dedicated to learning how to play blues."

Block delved deep into the music of Robert Johnson and that of the surviving major country bluesmen — Son House (who claimed to have taught Johnson), the Reverend Gary Davis, Skip James. And she met many of them. "This time period seemed to last forever," she writes. "I thought everyone knew these incredible men, these blues geniuses who wrote the book. I later realized how fleeting it was, and how even more precious." She became an interpreter of pure traditional styles but stood outside them in one fundamental way: she is female. Onstage, a tall, slender woman with strawberry blond hair turning white, Block conveys a bluesman's sense of disconnection from the established order of things; her performances are intense, punctuated by flashes of dark humor.

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