Blind Blake, Blind Blake Vol. 1 (1926 – 1927)

John Morthland

By John Morthland

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
A dazzling fingerpicking ragtime guitarist is collected.

Probably born and raised in Florida, this fingerpicking ragtime guitarist dazzled with his very first record, "West Coast Blues," cut in Chicago in 1926, and became a prolific and popular solo bluesman (and in-demand sessions guitarist for a wide range of artists). Few others could be as gritty and as happy-go-lucky. His breathtaking technique on the likes of "Skeedle Loo Doo Blues" was shaped mainly by ragtime pianists whose licks he translated to guitar, and he became a huge influence on Piedmont guitarists like Blind Boy Fuller and Rev. Gary Davis, none of whom matched his depth and density. While his grooves sounded so relaxed they seemed effortless, they ultimately proved so complex that the best acoustic guitarists of the folk revival and beyond, from Dave Van Ronk to Leon Redbone and Ry Cooder, also couldn't figure them out.