Saturday, September 08, 2012

Geremia and MacLeod To be Hosted By Archie Edwards Blues Heritage Foundation

Archie Edwards in front of the
Alpha Tonsorial Palace in 1990s
Photo © Ron Weinstock
When Washington DC Piedmont bluesman Archie Edwards passed away in 1998, some of his friends wanted to keep his legacy and memory alive and created the Archie Edwards Blues Heritage Foundation. The statement of purpose and goals can be found succinctly stated on the Foundation's website (

"The Archie Edwards Blues Heritage Foundation is keeping East coast acoustic folk blues alive. Through weekly Saturday jams, performances, workshops, exhibits, and lectures, AEBHF carries on the educational tradition of celebrated Piedmont blues artist Archie Edwards.

Bluesman, teacher, barber, and storyteller Archie Edwards (1918-1998) opened the Alpha Tonsorial Palace in Northeast Washington in 1959. Over the years it became a Saturday afternoon gathering place for aspiring musicians, young and old, African American and white. The barbershop became renowned as a place where musicians of every level of expertise were welcome to perform for each other. Until his death at the age of 79, Archie continued spreading the message of the Piedmont blues in his barbershop, on recordings, and on tours all over the world.

To keep the barbershop and Archie’s spirit alive, friends and fellow musicians joined together to form the Archie Edwards Blues Heritage Foundation. For nearly a decade, Archie’s Barbershop was the foundation’s home and served as a museum and educational center, a place for social interaction and community outreach, and as a memorial and tribute to Archie and the blues musicians and traditions of the region. When the building was sold to new owners in January 2008, the weekly jams moved temporarily to HR-57 - Center for the Preservation of Jazz and Blues. In March 2009, the Saturday jams and occasional workshops and concerts moved to the Barbershop's new home at 4701 Queensbury Rd. in Riverdale, MD20737."

The Foundation enabled a number of Archie's friends and those he mentored to develop their talents in playing blues. Participants of the weekly jams have represented the foundation at various festivals and concerts such as the recent DC Blues Festival and the upcoming (September 22) Bluebird Blues Festival. The Foundation, has since moving to its current Riverdale, Maryland home been more active in offering instrumental workshops and concerts by noted acoustic blues performers. In the next two weeks they will be presenting performances by two of the more gifted acoustic blues performers.

Friday, September 14 at 8:00PM, Paul Geremia will be performing in Riverdale. A little less than a year ago I posted a 2004 review I wrote of one of Paul's recordings, 
Love Murder & Mosquitos. In my introduction I noted "I had the pleasure of seeing Paul at one of the earliest shows the DC Blues Society was involved with (over twenty years ago) and it was a terrific performance of acoustic blues Paul Geremia was among the folk-blues interpreters of the folk revival and remains one of the finest such artists today." This is a rare opportunity to see a master of acoustic blues who has been active since the folk and blues revival of the sixties. The admission is only $15.00 to see Paul who is a master of guitar, harmonica and piano. Here is a clip of Paul performing Candy Man.

Paul will be also be instructing a Piedmont Blues Guitar Workshop on Saturday, September 15 from 11:00AM to 1:00PM at the Barbershop for $30.00. For those going to the concert and workshop, there is a combined charge of $40.00. The weekly Saturday jam will follow this workshop. 

The following Friday, September 21 at 8:00PM, Doug MacLeod will also be performing at the Riverdale location. A marvelous singer and songwriter, Doug first came to folks attention (including mine) with his album No Road Back Home on Hightone. One of the tracks on this recording that Dennis Walker and Bruce Bromberg produced was Its the Blues. It opens with him recalling being with George 'Harmonica' Smith (who was on this recording) and William Clarke in Oakland and staying in this fleabite hotel before he launches into the song about that night's performance. That recording featured Doug with a band, although today he usually performs solo. The core of his music is on this recording: his storytelling, conversational introductions and interaction with the audience and a vocal delivery which exemplifies the notion of "relaxed intensity," that I believe Bruce Bromberg first employed about Lightnin' Hopkins.  

Doug MacLeod at 2010 DC Blues Festival.  Photo © Ron Weinstock

MacLeod has since has compiled a fairly extensive discography since that recording and established himself for his evocative vocals, guitar and songs, rooted in the blues tradition but speaking from personal experiences. In recent years he has eschewed the electric guitar, preferring to perform and record acoustically with the focus on his intricate fingerstyle guitar as well as slide playing, and his intimate vocals. He was in Washington DC for the 2010 DC Blues Festival with a superb performance and the Archie Edwards Blues Heritage Foundation should be thanked for bringing him back to the area. Tickets for this show are also $15.00 and well worth it.  Here is a clip of Doug in performance.

For more information on the Archie Edwards Blues Heritage Foundation and all of the Foundation's events and workshops (including how to get tickets) visit their website, 

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