America tells its stories through song. Consolation to the lovelorn, courage to the oppressed, warning to the naive or a ticket to the Promised Land; a great song can deliver the wisdom of ages directly to our souls.
Deeply personal and implausibly universal, the blues, jazz, gospel and old time music of the American South form a deep aquifer that contemporary musicians all around the world drink from daily. The music is constantly expanding and morphing into country, rock, rap and soul, but trace the origins and you will find yourself standing squarely in the South.
In this album, we present music and portraits of these artists: fathers and mothers, uncles and aunts, daughters and sons, grandparents and neighbors, who continue to lovingly stir the South's musical stew and feed American culture. You probably won’t recognize their names or faces, for few have found fame. Most of them weren't easy to find.
Tim Duffy documented these artists with his camera and recorder over the past twenty years and insists, "I know who I am looking at through the lens." He knows them because of the countless hours spent with each artist over months and years. Days spent sharing songs, food, laughter and far too many miles in vans and airplanes have built the bridges of trust that allow these artists to give their wisdom and art so generously. These artists share their life lessons with us because we are dedicated to presenting their music to the world with reverence and to be partners in their struggle for a better life.
We are the Music Makers!
Preserving the Soul of America’s Music
Pictures & Stories by Timothy & Denise Duffy
Freight Train Boogie – Captain Luke (L. Mayer)
Winston-Salem, NC 1991. Captain Luke; Jew’s harp.
A Living Past – Guitar Gabriel (R.L. Jones)
Winston-Salem, NC 1991.
Railroad Bill – Etta Baker (trad. arr. by E. Baker)
Morganton, NC 1996. Etta Baker; guitar.
Going Away – John Lee Zeigler (J. Zeigler)
Kathleen, GA 1995. John Lee Zeigler; vocals, guitar.
High Yellow – Cootie Stark (Bull City Red, Julius Daniels)
Pinnacle, NC 1998. Cootie Stark; vocals, guitar Taj Mahal; ham-bone.
Chapel Hill Boogie – John Dee Holeman (J.D. Holeman)
Recorded by Joe McGrath Pinnacle, NC 1997. John Dee Holeman; vocals, guitar. Taj Mahal; guitar.
Shortnin’ Bread – Neal Pattman (trad. arr. by N. Pattman)
Pinnacle, NC 1998. Neal Pattman; harp, vocals. Taj Mahal; banjo.
Old Rugged Cross – Carl Rutherford (trad. arr. by C. Rutherford)
Hillsborough, NC 1995. Carl Rutherford; vocals, guitar. Cool John Ferguson; guitar.
No Hidin’ Place – Cool John Ferguson (J. Ferguson)
Hillsborough, NC 2006. Cool John Ferguson; guitar.
Feel Like My Time Ain’t Long – Essie Mae Brooks (E. M. Brooks)
Pinnacle, NC 2000. Essie Mae Brooks; vocals. Cool John Ferguson; piano.
Old Time Religion – Mother Pauline and Elder James Goins (trad arr. by P. & J. Goins) Ridgeway, SC 1997. Mother Pauline Goins; vocals. Elder James Goins; vocals, guitar.
My Lord and I – Elder Anderson Johnson (trad arr. by E.A. Johnson)
Newport News, VA 1998. Elder Anderson Johnson; vocals, slide guitar.
Cocktail Boogie – Mr Q (C. Settle)
Winston-Salem, NC 1995. Mr. Q; vocals, piano.
Big Belly Momma – Albert Smith (A. Smith)
Rembert, SC 1997. Albert Smith; vocals, piano.
If You Don’t Love Me, Would You Fool Me Good – Precious Bryant (P. Bryant)
Stone Mountain, GA 1995. Precious Bryant; vocals, guitar.
Old Bill – Big Boy Henry (R. Henry)
Beaufort, NC 1994. Big Boy Henry; vocals. Michael Parrish; guitar. Tim Duffy; guitar.
President Clinton Blues – Drink Small (D. Small)
Columbia, SC 1999. Drink Small; vocals, guitar.
Looking For My Woman – JW Warren (trad. arr. by J.W. Warren)
Ariton, AL 1995. JW Warren; vocals, guitar.
What Can An Old Man Do (But Sing The Blues) – Dr. Burt (G. Burt)
Hillsborough, NC 2008. Grover Burt; vocals, guitar.
Greasy Greens – George Higgs (trad. arr. by G. Higgs)
Farmville, NC 1998. George Higgs; vocals, harp.
Clickin’ – Whistlin’ Britches (H. Thompson)
Hillsborough, NC 2005. Whistlin’ Britches; clickin’.
Tim Duffy Is A Good Ol’ Guy – Captain Luke and Cool John Ferguson (L. Mayer)
Hillsborough, NC 2014. Captain Luke; vocals. Cool John Ferguson; guitar.
Railroadin’ and Gamblin’ – Samuel Turner Stevens (Uncle Dave Macon)
Asheville, NC 1994. Samuel Turner Stevens; vocals, fretless banjo.
Pigeon Dance – Pura Fé (P.F. Crescioni, Tuscarican Music, ASCAP)
Hillsborough, NC 2004. Pura Fé; vocals. Deer Clan Singers; vocals.
High Steppin’ Momma – Clyde Langford (C. Langford)
Midway, TX 2003. Clyde Langford; vocals, guitar.
Fred, You Ought To Be Dead – James Davis (J. Davis)
Perry, GA 1995. James Davis; guitar. Gilbert Henderson; drums.
Back In Business – Beverly “Guitar” Watkins (B. Watkins, Brand New Music, Ltd., Bug Music) Produced by Mike Vernon, Atlanta, GA 1998. Beverly Watkins; vocals, guitar. Carly Sonny Layland; piano. Danny Dudeck; guitar. Joe Schwenke; bass. Chris Uhler; percussion. Jason Reichert; drums.
Sourwood Mountain – Carolina Chocolate Drops (trad. arr. by D. Flemons, J. Robinson, R. Giddens, Bring It Forward Music, ASCAP) Recorded by Jerry Brown, Chapel Hill, NC 2006. Dom Flemons; vocals, guitar. Rhiannon Giddens; vocals, banjo. Justin Robinson; vocals, fiddle.
Let No Woman – Guitar Gabriel (R. L. Jones)
Pittsburgh, PA 1970. Guitar Gabriel; vocals, guitar.
Snatch That Thing – Macavine Hayes (M. Hayes)
Winston-Salem, NC 1994. Macavine Hayes; vocals, guitar. Michael Parrish; piano. Ardie Dean; drums. Tim Duffy; guitar.
Cook Corn Bread For You Husband, Biscuits For Your Outside Man
– Algia Mae Hinton (A.M. Hinton)
Middlesex, NC 1998. Algia Mae Hinton; vocals, guitar.
Peter Rumpkin – Willa Mae Buckner (trad arr. by W. M. Buckner)
Winston-Salem, NC 1994. Willa Mae Buckner; vocals. Timothy Duffy; guitar. Michael Parrish; piano.
Child Support Blues – Adolphus Bell (A. Bell)
Hillsborough, NC 2005. Adolphus Bell; vocals, guitar, hi hat, bass drum, harp.
Nothing But Your Butt – Ironing Board Sam (S. Moore)
Huntsville, AL 2012. Produced by Ardie Dean. Ironing Board Sam; vocals, piano. Nashid Abdul; bass. Albert White; guitar. Ardie Dean; drums. Charlie Rose; trombone. Jim Horn; baritone sax. Chris West; tenor & alto sax. Steve Herman; trumpet.
Benton’s Dream – Benton Flippen (B. Flippen)
Hillsborough, NC 2003. Benton Flippen; fiddle. Roger Wilson; banjo. Andy Edmonds; guitar. Gene Hall; guitar.
Route 66 – Eddie Tigner (Bobby Troup, © Control)
Recorded by Paul Linden, Atlanta, GA 2000. Eddie Tigner; vocals, piano, organ. Felix Reyes; guitar. Paul Linden; harmonica. Matt Sickles; acoustic bass. Ron Logsdon; drum.
My New Next Door Neighbor – Jerry “Boogie” McCain (J. McCain) Recorded by Ardie Dean, Vinemont, AL 2002. Jerry McCain; vocals, harp. Ardie Dean; drums. Greg Rowell; bass, acoustic guitar. Ralph Lusian; electric guitar, organ. Clay Swafford; piano.
Flossie – Carl Hodges (C. Hodges)
Saluda, VA 1996. Carl Hodges; vocals, guitar.
Home on the Range – W. C. Minger IV (W.C. Minger IV)
Pinnacle, NC 1995. William C. Minger IV; vocals, guitar. Sam Duffy; mandolin, fiddle, vocals. Tim Duffy; guitar, slide guitar, bass, vocals.
Keep On Truckin’ – Boo Hanks & Dom Flemons (trad. arr. by B. Hanks & D. Flemons) Buffalo Junction, VA Boo Hanks; guitar, vocals. Dom Flemons; guitar, vocals.
Old Black Buck – Captain Luke & Cool John Ferguson (L. Mayer) Pinnacle, NC 1999. Luther Mayer; vocals. Cool John Ferguson; guitar.
Manman Mwen – Leyla McCalla (trad. arr. by L. McCalla)
Floyd, VA 2013. Recorded by Joe DeJarnette. Leyla McCalla; tenor banjo, vocals. Rhiannon Giddens; shaker, vocals.
Amazing Grace – Cora Fluker (trad. arr. by R.L. Jones) Recorded by Raphaël Evrard, Hillsborough, NC 2013. Lakota John Locklear; vocals, guitar. Big Papa John Locklear; harmonica.
Sing It Louder – Cary Morin (C. Morin, Cary Morin Music, BMI) Hillsborough, NC 2010. Cary Morin; vocals, guitar. Peter Knudson; percussion.
All songs recorded by Timothy Duffy and published by (Lucky Guitar Music, ASCAP) except where noted.
www.musicmaker.org Music Maker Relief Foundation is a tax exempt, public charity under IRS code 501(c)3. All donations are tax deductible to the full extent allowed by law.
Guitar Gabriel was a blues philosopher and the inspiration for the creation of the Music Maker Relief Foundation. This is a rare recording of his 1970 hit.
Big Boy Henry from Beaufort, NC shares his keen observation of senseless sacrifice.
Etta Baker of Morganton, NC was among the finest Piedmont blues guitarists who ever lived.
Neal Pattman from Athens, GA lost one arm after it got stuck in a wagon wheel when he was a child. Neal came up hard, working, fighting, and playing the blues.
Essie Mae Brooks’ voice is pure and her lyrics are precise. She lives in a small house surrounded by hundreds of acres of cotton in rural GA.
Captain Luke has a voice like honey dripping on hot chocolate. His vocal style flows deep from the great black river of music. He was best friends with Guitar Gabriel.
John Dee Holeman of Durham, NC is a direct link to the musicians surrounding the legendary Blind Boy Fuller.
Macavine Hayes was born in Marathon, FL and moved to Winston-Salem, NC in the 1960s where he performed in local drink houses.
Cootie Stark, Piedmont blues guitarist/singer, learned from his uncle Johnny Stark and Baby Tate. He spent decades traveling throughout the country playing on street corners.
Precious Bryant had a sparkle of light that shined deep into the heavens when she sang and played her guitar. She was a talented, haunted blues woman who wrote from real life.
Algia Mae Hinton plays guitar and banjo in the old Carolina style that she learned from her mother.
Carl Rutherford grew up working in the mines of War, WV, immersed in mountain music. As a young man he migrated to Bakersfield, CA, where he worked in the sawmills and for years performed in honky-tonks. He retired back home and devoted the rest of his life fighting to make a better life for his coal mining community.
John Lee Zeigler played the guitar left handed, picking the bass strings with his index finger and the treble strings with his thumb. His music has direct links to the music of West Africa.
Willa Mae Buckner was a blues singer, performer, snake handler and carnival mainstay. She achieved her life-long dream and performed at Carnegie Hall in 1994.
Drink Small, The Blues Doctor, of Columbia, SC has been performing and recording since the 1950s. He is a prolific song-writer and a guitarist extraordinaire.
Albert Smith taught piano and was a musical director in his small church deep in rural SC during his 80 plus years.
Eddie Tigner of Atlanta, GA toured with the Ink Spots for 35 years and is still performing today at 86 years old.
JW Warren of Enterprise, AL dated Big Momma Thornton in his youth and was a country blues giant.
Carl Hodges of Saluda, VA dug wells by hand for a living and played the blues every Friday and Saturday night.
Cora Fluker of Marion, MS was a preacher and an itinerant musician.
Mr. Q of Winston-Salem, NC moved to Harlem in the early 1930s; he made his living in piano bars and was an original “hep cat”.
Pura Fé is a Tuscarora Indian who has dedicated her life to bringing light to issues facing indigenous peoples.
Benton Flippen of Mt. Airy, NC lived to the age of 91, performing at square dances up to a few weeks before his passing.
Elder James & Mother Pauline Goins of Ridgeway, SC performed a very early style of gospel music.
Adolphus Bell of Birmingham, AL proclaimed himself the “World’s Greatest One Man Band.”
Elder Anderson Johnson first recorded this song in the 1950s. He was a well-known folk artist and preacher.
Whistlin’ Britches had an amazing spirit and exuded utter joy every waking moment.
Taj Mahal will tell you, "Cool John Ferguson is among the five greatest guitarists he has ever heard.”
Dr. Burt studied nonviolence with Coretta Scott King and marched for equal rights on the streets of his hometown, Birmingham, AL and Detroit, MI.
George Higgs of Speed, NC was a remarkable singer and harp blower.
Samuel Turner Stevens was a musician who sang old folk songs and played fiddle, guitar, mandolin and piano. He made beautiful fretless banjos, fiddles, guitars, and mandolins.
Beverly “Guitar” Watkins started playing guitar behind her uncle, Piano Red, when she was a senior in high school. At age 74, she continues to blow away crowds with her screaming guitar and stage acrobatics.
Ironing Board Sam is the Ninth of Wonder of the World of Music. In the 1970’s he performed from a hot air balloon 100 feet above Jackson Square in New Orleans.
James Davis was a sawmill worker and played “DRUMBEAT” every Saturday night since a child.
Boo Hanks learned guitar from his father. He worked as a tobacco farmer for most of his life, and made his first recording at the age of 79.
Jerry “Boogie” McCain earned his nickname “Boogie” from playing on street corners in his hometown of Gadsden, AL.
Taj Mahal is a Grammy Award-winning musician. He is a long time supporter of Music Maker’s mission and has befriended and played with many Music Maker artists.
W.C. Minger IV worked as a fruit tramp and migrant worker. He played guitar, wrote songs and sang at hobo camps throughout the Great Northwest.
Clyde Langford, from Centerville, TX, learned to play guitar from Joel “Thunder” Hopkins, Lightnin’ Hopkins’ older brother, when he was 13 years old. He remained close with the two brothers, to whom Clyde is related.
The Carolina Chocolate Drops revitalized and reintroduced the black string-band tradition to a new generation of American youth.
Leyla McCalla, who lives in New Orleans, is a cellist, singer and songwriter born to Haitian emigrant parents.
Cary Morin brings together the great musical traditions of America and beyond.
1/ Captain Luke/ Freight Train Boogie
2/ Guitar Gabriel/ A Living Past
3/ Etta Baker/ Railroad Bill
4/ John Lee Zeigler/ Going Away
5/ Cootie Stark/ High Yellow
6/ John Dee Holeman/ Chapel Hill Boogie
7/ Neal Pattman/ Shortnin’ Bread
8/ Carl Rutherford/ Old Rugged Cross
9/ Cool John Ferguson/ No Hidin’ Place
10/ Essie Mae Brooks/ Feel Like My Time Ain’t Long
11/ Mother Pauline and Elder James Goins/ Old Time Religion
12/ Elder Anderson Johnson/ My Lord and I
13/ Mr Q/ Cocktail Boogie
14/ Albert Smith/ Big Belly Mamma
15/ Precious Bryant/ If You Don’t Love Me, Would You Fool Me Good
16/ Big Boy Henry/ Old Bill
17/ Drink Small/ President Clinton Blues
18/ JW Warren/ Looking For My Woman
19/ Dr. Burt/ What Can An Old Man Do (But Sing the Blues)
20/ George Higgs/ Greasy Greens
21/ Whistlin’ Britches/ Clickin’
22/ Captain Luke and Cool John Ferguson/Tim Duffy Is A Good Ol’ Guy
1/ Samuel Turner Stevens/ Railroadin’ & Gamblin’
2/ Pura Fé/ Pigeon Dance
3/ Clyde Langford/ High Steppin’ Mamma
4/ James Davis/ Fred, You Ought To Be Dead
5/ Beverly “Guitar” Watkins/ Back In Business
6/ Carolina Chocolate Drops/ Sourwood Mountain
7/ Guitar Gabriel/ Let No Woman
8/ Macavine Hayes/ Snatch That Thing
9/ Algia Mae Hinton/ Cook Corn Bread For You Husband, Biscuits For Your Outside Man
10/ Willa Mae Buckner/ Peter Rumpkin
11/ Adolphus Bell/ Child Support Blues
12/ Ironing Board Sam/ Nothing But Your Butt
13) Benton Flippen/ Benton’s Dream
14/ Eddie Tigner/ Route 66
15/ Jerry “Boogie” McCain/ My New Next Door Neighbor
16/ Carl Hodges/ Flossie
17/ W.C. Minger IV/ Home On The Range
18/ Boo Hanks and Dom Flemons/ Keep On Truckin’
19/ Captain Luke and Cool John Ferguson/ Old Black Buck
20/ Leyla McCalla/ Manman Mwen
21/ Cora Fluker/ Amazing Grace
22/ Cary Morin/ Sing It Louder