Photos by Gary Hamilton
The rough roads of America finally proved to be too much for Norman Blake and his wife Nancy. The acclaimed guitarist, singer, and songwriter along with his musical and life partner gave up full-time touring a few years ago to give their weary bones a rest, retreating to their Georgia home.
Blake was not done making music, however, and with his new album Wood, Wire & Words, he has surfaced once again at 77 years of age to remind folks of the real deal. The album finds Blake performing solo with just his guitar, his rough-hewn voice, and a new set of original story songs laid bare. Blake writes about what he knows, a bygone-era brought to life on cuts with titles such as “The Keeper Of The Government Light On The River,” “The Incident At Condra’s Switch,” “Joseph Thompson Hare On The Natchez Trace,” and “Grady Forester’s Store And Cotton Gin.”
When the album was released in early 2015, Blake set about doing high-profile interviews with major media outlets such as the Wall Street Journal and NPR. But as the praise for Wood, Wire & Words began to grow; Blake got word that his long-time friend and former bandmate Tut Taylor had passed away at 91 years of age.
One of the most acclaimed recordings in all of bluegrass music, and in all of American roots music history for that matter, is John Hartford’s Aereo-Plain album. Released in 1971, it would go on to influence multiple generations of open-minded musicians. Produced by David Bromberg and featuring Randy Scruggs on bass, the album showcased the genius of the Dobrolic Plectoral Society, which consisted of Hartford, Blake, Taylor, and Vassar Clements. Hartford passed in 2001, Clements in 2005, and on April 9th, 2015, Taylor’s passing left Blake the last man standing. Read entire article »