The Introduction to Living Country Blues USA
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Excellent Piedmont Blues
Cephas & Wiggins are leading exponents of the Piedmont Blues – specifically the Piedmont-style guitar, featuring alternating thumb and finger, with the thumb creating a steady, loping bass as the melody is simultaneously picked out on the treble strings. The two met in 1977 at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington, D.C., where Cephas was playing in the band of pianist Big Chief Ellis and Wiggins was accompanying gospel singer-guitarist Flora Melton. Along with pianist Wilber “Big Chief” Ellis and bassist James Bellamy, John and Phil formed the Barrelhouse Rockers. A year after Ellis’ death, the duo of Cephas & Wiggins was born. To Cephas & Wiggins, the blues lyric is the poetry of the African-American experience. Says Cephas, “The blues is a creation of black people in communities all across this country when times were hard. It was a way of expression, an outlet, and it’s had so much impact. Blues music is truth. The lyrics are true-to-life experiences that people everywhere can relate to.”