This is the latest from The Bluesmobile’s C.C. Rider, who spends her life venerating the founding fathers of the blues. She’s walked the crooked highways of this singing country to resurrect the voices of the past. With the dirt of the Delta on her hands, she sleeps in the shadow of the giants on whose shoulders popular music now stands.
The Piedmont Blues, also known as East Coast Blues, is named after a stretch of land at the foot of the Appalachians—from Northern Virginia to Georgia. The Piedmont. It’s a mix of black and white, urban and country. A lot of ragtime influence there. It’s characterized by a complex guitar picking style. A steady alternating bass-line is played with the thumb while a complicated melody is played with the fingers. Like this.
That’s Blind Blake. A founding father of the Piedmont blues and widely considered one of the greatest guitarists of all time. He influenced tons of people—including Blind Boy Fuller. A superstar in his own time and the most famous Piedmont stylist, for sure.
Always snatching it back from the boys, the Piedmont ladies can syncopate too. Like the left handed Elizabeth Cotten, who played a righty guitar upside down.
Delta Blues gets all the glory, but some of the most celebrated and influential early blues artists play Piedmont style. Reverend Gary Davis, Sonny Terry, Blind Willie McTell…And today the tradition continues. Here’s a Grammy winning band that grew up right in the heart of the Piedmont region. The Carolina Chocolate Drops.