Rory Block review 05-28-12…..

RORY BLOCK

I BELONG TO THE BAND

A TRIBUTE TO REV. GARY DAVIS

STONY PLAIN RECORDS  SPCD 1359

 

SAMSON AND DELILAH–GOIN TO SIT DOWN ON THE BANKS OF THE RIVER–LET US GET TOGETHER RIGHT DOWN HERE–I BELONG TO THE BAND–LORD, I FEEL JUST LIKE GOIN ON–LO, I BE WITH YOU ALWAYS–PURE RELIGION–TWELVE GATES TO THE CITY–GREAT CHANGE SINCE I BEEN BORN–I AM THE LIGHT OF THIS WORLD–DEATH DON’T HAVE NO MERCY

 

Rory Block, considered to be the foremost female authority on playing pre-WWII country blues, has just released her latest CD in her “mentor series,” tributes to those from whom she learned first-hand, as well as those who influenced her style.  This one is entitled “I Belong To The Band,” and features Rory on lead vocal and all guitars in tribute to the Rev. Gary Davis.

 

While living in New York in 1964, Rory and Stefan Grossman would take the long subway ride into the Bronx to take guitar lessons with Rev. Davis, one-on-one, in his home.  Rory learned her lessons well, as can be heard on her authentic interpretations of Rev. Davis’ many classic tunes.

 

For those unfamiliar with Rev. Davis’ music, he was a brilliant guitarist who employed dazzling finger-picking and slide techniques, with unique syncopations within the melody lines.  In the liner notes, Rory laments her difficulty in getting the finger picks to stay in place, finally opting for the use of duct tape to keep them on, at the painful expense of her first layer of skin!

 

However, she plays these songs with unbridled passion and emotion.  Listen as she runs thru the changes of “Samson And Deliliah” with ease.  The title cut finds Rory on slide and the gospel-infused backing  voices lending the “Hallelujah” chorus.  She becomes a modern-day Biblical storyteller in “Great Changes Since I Been Born,” and “Twelve Gates To The City.’  The set closes with the chilling “Death Don’t Have No Mercy,” and the poignant lyrics that remind us “when Death comes to your house, it won’t stay long,” but “someone in your family will be gone.”

 

Rev. Gary Davis took predominantly spiritual music and played it in a country-blues style, successfully melding the secular with “the Devil’s music.”  Rory Block has shown us the deep respect she has for his music, and the difficulty that went along with mastering his styles and techniques.  “I Belong To The Band’ is one of her crowning achievements!   Until next time….Sheryl and Don Crow.

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