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NEWS

I have now released the fourth cd in my tribute series dedicated to the blues masters I met in person as a teenager. Their influence has resonated throughout my life and career, and this is my way of saying "thank you" to musical giants like Son House, Fred McDowell, Reverend Gary Davis, Mississippi John Hurt, and others, who mentored and inspired me face to face. I call this "The Mentor Series" and the cds will ultimately be part of a boxed set.

THE MENTOR SERIES


AVALON

A Tribute to Mississippi John Hurt


"This is the fourth in her Mentor Series... Were this all she had ever done, her place in Blues history would be secured forever... No one, short of the masters themselves has ever played this music with the power and passion that Rory Block plays... Avalon is a modern masterpiece."
BILL WILSON - REFLECTIONS IN BLUE

"... yet another masterclass from a lady who deserves to be called 'the first lady of the blues'.
MICK RAINSFORD - BLUES IN BRITAIN

"Another in the continuing line of masterpieces from Rory Block... The strongest contender, by far, for Best Blues Tribute Album 2013... "
JOHN VERMILYEA - Blues Underground Network

"... one of the finest guitarists of her era... Block's guitar work is, as always, phenomenal..."
Friday Blues Fix

"... Among the names Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith and Sippie Wallace, Rory Block stands among the great women of the blues."
BILL HURLEY - The Alternate Root Magazine

"Rory Block is one of America's greatest treasures..."
ADRIAN BLACKLEE - BLUES MATTERS

"... a modern masterwork... she has succeeded brilliantly... Avalon is flawless, alive, full of joy and passion..."
BARRY KERZNER - American Blues Scene

"... a modern master in her own right, it simply doesn't get much better."
JOHN TAYLOR - BLINDED BY SOUND

"... her playing is sublime... Rory Block's recordings are stuff of a particular kind of brilliance."
PARCBENCH

"To say I love this album would be an understatement... Avalon is a deep and intimate blues experience that I can not recommend highly enough."
Uncle John's Record Barn - GONZO ONLINE

“... sass and soul... Killer stuff..."
CHRIS SPECTOR - Midwest Record - Chicago, IL

"Her exquisite finger-picking skills are on full display..."
SHERYL AND DON CROW - donandsherylsbluesblog

“This is my favorite of the 4 releases and I'm sure that Block will be rewarded for her faithful efforts."
Bman's Blues Report

I BELONG TO THE BAND

A Tribute to Reverend Gary Davis


"A real triumph... If contemporary acoustic country blues guitar picking is your thing you gotta hear this disc, it comes with a big thumbs up from me."

PHIL WIGHT - Blues & Rhythm magazine (UK)

SHAKE 'EM ON DOWN

A Tribute to Mississippi Fred McDowell


"It’s simply a killer by a player at the top of her game.  Hot stuff throughout."

CHRIS SPECTOR - Midwest Record - Chicago, IL

“The name Rory Block is synonymous with the word legend in the world of blues... She’s revered for her talents, she’s critically acclaimed...”

MUZIKREVIEWS.COM


“... yet another brilliant release from Rory Block, one that pays tribute to a Legendary Artist by an Artist who is certainly heading in the direction of legendary status, herself.”
JOHN VERMILYEA - Blues Underground Network

“Block has incredible vocal range... she digs down to the depth of her soul... she conveys so much emotion that you can believe she not only understands what the originators felt, but she’s experienced the same feelings.”
JEFF JOHNSON - Chicago Sun-Times


“Shake 'Em On Down is sexy and salacious... Block spits out the lyrics with a passion... driving guitar groove... edgy vocals... another fine addition to Block's growing catalog of tribute discs."

MARK SMITH - Bluesource.com


"... This is a woman who continues to amaze. She has won many awards and I expect her to win more with this excellent offering."

JERRY W. HENRY - Tannehill Trader Monthly - Birmingham, AL

Click Here To Buy the physical version

Click Here To Buy the pdf version



Recent Releases

BLUES WALKIN’ LIKE A MAN

A Tribute to Son House

“Blues Walkin’ Like A Man is THE blues album of ‘08."
JOHN KEREIFF rosslandradio.com, Rossland, BC

"...one of the highest notes of her brilliant career..."
JOHN VERMILYEA Blues Underground Network

"...as feisty, fierce and compelling as the masters she honors and interprets."
MIKE JURKOVIC Folk And Acoustic Music Exchange


The Lady & Mr Johnson

2007 Blues Music Awards
Acoustic Album Of The Year
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Cover: Rory with Richard Johnson, great grandson of Robert Johnson

Photo: Shonna Valeska

“This album cements Rory Block’s reputation as THE premier acoustic blues practitioner in today’s music canon... one of the best albums of the year, bar none!”
George Bennet, MusicTap

“... an extraordinary recording... Rory Block has to be one of the finest acoustic slide Blues players alive today...”
Richard Marcus, Blogcritics.org

“... impeccable, almost unbelievable... she has completely nailed Johnson’s technique... a flawless album...”
Megan Frye, All Music Guide

“...she’s arguably the top slide player on the planet, bar none...
Mojo Flucke, PhD, Bullz-eye

“...masterpiece of a tribute... one of the premier acoustic blues players in the world... transcends anything she has done up until now...”
Paul Shugrue, Out Of The Box
The Lady and Mr. Johnson on Rykodisc features Rory performing 13 of Robert Johnson’s greatest classics. The following is an excerpt from the liner notes:

“From 1964 until the winter of 2006, I thought Robert Johnson had no surviving relatives. There was a sense of terrible loss and loneliness surrounding his tragic, early death. How could so great a musical giant have left us after only one recording?* Imagine my joy when halfway through this project I learned that Johnson’s family had been found, alive and well in Mississippi. Heart pounding, I dialed the phone, voice shaking, and said ‘You don’t know me, but to me, you’re family... I feel like I’ve just found long lost kin!’ On the other end came a beautiful voice in a deep, mellow tone... and the hair stood up on my neck...”

* In 1964, “Robert Johnson/ King of the Delta Blues singers” was the only recording available

Robert Johnson's son Claud Johnson & Rory
Photo: Shonna Valeska
“Rory Block should have a Doctorate in my grandfather’s music.”
Steven Johnson, grandson of Robert Johnson

“When I hear Rory Block’s music, it’s as if my grandfather is here all over again.”
Greg Johnson, grandson of Robert Johnson
Rory & Michael Johnson
Rory & Michael
w/Richard & Michael Johnson
Richard Johnson & Rory
Steven Johnson & Rory

Photos: Shonna Valeska

w/Rob & Steven Johnson

FROM THE DUST
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“Bottom line: there’s nobody like Rory Block... Rory Block is the blues... one can hear the actual historic blues tradition write itself into the new century... one of the music’s few living legends.”
Thom Jurek, All Music Guide album pick

"... Rory Block is currently stretching the limits... hugely talented... She is one of our national treasures."
Richard Ludmerer- Director, The New York Blues & Jazz Society

"... plays the blues like a force of nature... astonishing power and passion... her guitar chops have chops, and she is certainly among the top living blues guitarists extant, male or female."
Bruce Menin, Merrimack River Current

"... one of the most remarkable acoustic blues albums in recent years..."
Chicago Sun Times

"... Today, she's arguably the greatest acoustic slide guitarist around."
Tuscaloosa (AL) News

LAST FAIR DEAL
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"... a dazzling display of guitar wizardry... "
- Chicago Sun Times

"... light years ahead of many of her contemporaries."
- Jazz Review.com

"... impeccable renditions of songs associated with her late mentor Son House...
stinging slide and an understated virtuosity..."
- Amazon

"Last Fair Deal is a brilliant piece of work...an amazing masterpiece...
Block has definitely hit this one out of the park,"
- SoundWaves

"Rory makes one's jaw drop... She is truly an extraordinary artist...
... another winner and another notch in her guitar for this CD."
-BluesWax.com

"An absolutely stellar outing, this one gets my very highest recommendation."
-Blues On Stage

"Last real deal, more like it... she's got the funk... Pick, sister, pick."
-Ink19

"Rory Block has long been one of the best, and most powerful, interpreters of
traditional acoustic blues... Block’s guitar playing is superb throughout."
-Montreal Gazette

Click here for more reviews

Click here to Listen
Last Fair Deal, on Telarc Blues, is a total celebration of my lifelong love affair with the guitar. Finally, I practised (the last time I really practised the guitar was in 1964), and the result of a little discipline has been entirely satisfying. I wanted to use the guitar as the foundation for everything and attempted to take my playing beyond any of the boundaries I might have placed on it in the past. Acoustic, and leaning heavily on slide, it features lots of syncopated and percussive riffs which have come straight from the road. I set out to use the instrument at times as an orchestra, at times in a stark and solitary way. I improvised more than I ever have before, I wrote and created and stayed close to the bone in every way I knew how. Recorded both in our home studio and on the road in the tour bus, I hope it has the grittiest, earthiest feel of anything I have ever done. With trucks roaring by and various dogs racing about or chawing on bones, you will find the atmosphere of life on “The Dog Ranch” in the background from time to time. We gave up trying to sanitize it early on, and went for feel and a live quality. Over half the songs are my own originals, yet I have kept all the material within the acoustic framework by surrounding everything in either one or multiple layers of guitar. It is a very emotional recording with the originals drawing inspiration from life, friends, the world, etc, and the traditional blues songs from my long time love of Robert Johnson, Son House, Charlie Patton and early gospel.

Two photos from the eight panel booklet.


I'M EVERY WOMAN
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My 14th CD for Rounder Records, "I'm Every Woman" is an ecclectic blend of R&B, blues, acoustic, a capella, and gospel. Included are duets with special friends Keb Mo, Kelly Joe Phelps, my son Jordan, and Reverend Herb Sheldon. The CD starts with a slide improv I was doing at a sound check and ends with a trailing of the same theme. That's drummer Sean Pelton laughing after a particularly smokin' version of Feel Like Breakin' Up Somebody's Home. I like the unexpected. Hope Al Green doesn't mind my version of Tired of Being Alone... sure was fun singin' it!
Click here to view the Shonna Valeska photo session
After having delved deeply into my passion for country blues and eclectic songwriting on my previous recordings, the feeling was that it was a good time to get a little crazy with number fourteen! I decided to record a mixure of styles from bare bones to some of my all-time favorite soul classics. I wanted to pick songs and artists that are to soul music what Robert Johnson is to country blues... Al Green, Marvin Gaye, Teddy Pendergrass, Curtis Mayfield, and Chaka Khan for instance. So this album is a bit different, adventurous, and even a little bit uptown. Someone saw the new cover recently and said it was "glam!" Cool! Keb Mo and I sing "Ain't Nothing Like The Real Thing" (Asford & Simpson), with the smokin'est band of New York City musicians, to which we added a little street corner crooning at the beginning and the end. Kelly Joe Phelps and I do an acoustic version of "Pretty Polly" with KJ's signature heart-piercing slide taking the song out. The Reverend Herb Sheldon of the Payne AME Choir and I collaborate on a gospel song from the "Sounds Of Blackness" group called "Hold On/Change Is Coming" (Herb's testimony will make your hair stand on end)- I sing Al Green's "Tired Of Being Alone", "Love TKO" made famous by Teddy Pendergrass and written by Noble-Womack & Womack, "I'm Every Woman" (one of Chaka Khan's many hits, written by Ashford and Simpson),"Fool For You" by Curtis Mayfield- and a wild, stark, a capella song called "Sea Lion Woman" with Saffire's hard-hitting songwriter and blues vocalist Gaye Adegbalola. An extra nice photo session by Shonna Valeska put the icing on the project.

CONFESSIONS OF A BLUES SINGER
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Photo Credit: Shonna Valeska
CONFESSIONS OF A BLUES SINGER won Acoustic Blues Album Of The Year in May of 1999. I thank Bonnie Raitt for her support in making a guest appearance and am always thrilled to work with my son Jordan, who sang on a Bukka White song and played barrel house piano. The album includes Robert Johnson's "If I Had Possession Over Judgment Day" and "Ramblin' On My Mind", Charlie Patton's "Bo Weavil Blues", songs by Louise Johnson, Furry Lewis, Bukka White, Blind Willie McTell, Reverend Robert Wilkins, William and Versey Smith, and two original songs. I have received a tremendous amount of support to record more traditional blues, and this album is in response to that, but I also appreciate the joy it gives me to immerse myself in the old music. The last two songs on the album are my own, the first of which is written for my dear friend Marian Van Ness who died last year at the age of 96, and the other a song which chronicles my life with the blues. The following is from the liner notes:

"One night I had a dream and woke with the slide riff from Charlie Patton's Bo Weavil Blues soaring through my brain with great clarity and volume. This was extremely odd as I had never focused on that particular song nor had I heard it for 30 years.. I couldn't even remember the title and had to listen to the entire CD collection to find it. I realized I was meant to record it, and that focused this album. I decided I was going to go for 'feel' over 'perfection.' I wanted to move in the spirit of the early recordings where spontaneity and musical freedom were at the core of everything, all soul and raw power and no technological advantages save the on/off button on the tape recorder. I suddenly felt free to leave the buzzing notes, the imperfect intonation, the unfinished endings.. because it's not about a cleanly edited crisp song.. it's about joy and dedication to the beauty of music that was the original basis for everything. I asked the engineer to record the vocals a little bit harder and thinner than today's audiophiles would perhaps appreciate, but I wanted to be closer to the old sound.. I wanted it to be just a little bit disturbing. In fact I never really mixed this album, I just used the studio roughs at the end of the day because they always have the best energy. As I listened to the old recordings I was amazed all over again by the incredible power and unselfconscious beauty in the music. Songs that are one chord, songs that are mostly wailing, songs which growl, songs which slam and thump, songs which end with a plop and start without an intro. I was walking through the house screaming, 'Listen to this fabulous song! Listen to this fabulous song!' I still don't think there is anything as glorious and beautiful as an old blues or country song recorded in the early part of this century. That time, those circumstances, and the people who created the music will never be here again, but they left us with the burning desire to carry forth some part of the spirit to show our deep appreciation."

To See Rory's Other Releases Click Here


MAGAZINE ARTICLES

Out of numerous articles over many years, here are just a few.


NOTES FROM THE ROAD

JORDAN

NBC WEEKEND IN NEW YORK
PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION

In March '97 I appeared on NBC's "Weekend in New York" show, and later that same month one of the songs from my Angel Of Mercy CD, "You Deserve The Best," was used in an ABC prime time documentary hosted by Oprah Winfrey. Also in May I finally played on my favorite radio show, Prairie Home Companion. Along with my incredible "it doesn't get any tighter than this" band (to quote an astute observer), we did half solo and half band. I can't say enough good things about Garrison Keillor, and the show's producer, along with the world's nicest crew.

That's all for now. As always, we look forward to seeing you on the road!

Love, Rory