by Tara Morgan
Rory Block has blues in her blood. The Delta blues guitar player grew up in New York City’s bohemian West Village in the early 1960s. Her folk musician father held weekly jam sessions in his shoe shop, the Allan Block Sandal Shop, where Block learned her chops alongside bluegrass, country ragtime, blues, swing and early barrel-house jazz greats.
Block also had the opportunity to meet some of her blues heroes. She played guitar for Son House (who kept asking "Where did she learn to play like this?"), visited Skip James in the hospital, and sipped Maxwell House coffee with Mississippi John in Washington, D.C.
In Block’s lengthy life story on her website, she reminisces on these experiences:
“Many people ask me why a 14-year-old white girl from New York City felt so deeply and personally connected to the music of the black rural South from another era. How can you explain love? The music resonated inside me, felt real, beautiful, spoke to what was in my heart, moved my soul.”
Since that time, Block has recorded more than 20 albums, including tributes to Robert Johnson and Son House, and has garnered numerous blues music awards.
Block will perform tonight at Alive After Five. Local blues-roots band Sun Blood Stories will open.
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