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Home in Sulphur Springs

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Album Review

Norman Blake had been a prominent performer and studio guitarist for over a decade before this solo debut was recorded, and although he had largely made his name playing backup to bigger stars, this is the first of a long string of albums that confirmed Blake's reputation as a master guitarist and songwriter. Joined by dobroist Tut Taylor, who had played with Blake on John Hartford's Aereo-Plain earlier in the year, the two run through a delightful mix of old-time songs and Blake originals, many of which show the progressive characteristics that would lead the guitarist to form the Rising Fawn String Ensemble to play what was called "hillbilly baroque." Although he only got better over time, this record is among Blake's best, demonstrating his nearly incomparable virtuosity, easygoing style, and broad repertoire, highlighted by "Cattle in the Cane," "Crossing No. 9," and the lovely closer "Spanish Fandango," which according to the notes is the first song he ever learned to play.


Born: 10 March 1938 in Chattanooga, TN

Genre: Country

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Although he is proficient with a variety of stringed instruments, Norman Blake is famous for his acoustic guitar skills -- he was one of the major bluegrass guitarists of the '70s. Blake came into view in the late '60s, when he began performing as a sideman with artists as diverse as June Carter and Bob Dylan. During the '70s, he began a solo career that quickly became one of the most popular and musically adventurous within bluegrass. He continued recording and performing -- occasionally with his...
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