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Blues Styles: Piedmont Blues

Piedmont Blues style defined

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Blind Boy Fuller's Truckin' My Blues Away

Blind Boy Fuller's Truckin' My Blues Away

Photo courtesy Price Grabber

The Piedmont blues style originated in the region on the eastern coast of the United States, ranging from the state of Virginia south to the northern tip of Florida (including the Carolinas) and west to Georgia and eastern Tennessee. Portions of northeastern Alabama and even southern Maryland are often considered to be part of the Piedmont plateau where the style was performed.

The Piedmont Blues Style

Characterized by a finger-picked style of playing an acoustic guitar, Piedmont blues features a syncopated rhythm played by the thumb on the bass strings of the instrument while the fingers pick out a melody on the treble strings. Heavily influenced by ragtime music, Piedmont style blues are generally up-tempo in sound and were extremely popular as dance music with African-American audiences during the 1930s and '40s. Considered a form of "country blues," Piedmont blues were influential with late-1950s/early-60s folk singers and with some rockabilly musicians.

Notable Piedmont Blues Artists

Piedmont blues were dominated by guitarists, including several very talented blind bluesmen that helped expand the vocabulary of the music. Blind Willie McTell, Blind Blake, Blind Boy Fuller, Rev. Gary Davis, and Barbecue Bob are among the most influential of the Piedmont style bluesmen. Perhaps the best-known of the Piedmont blues artists was the duo of Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee whom, both together and individually, enjoyed careers that stretched from the 1930s into the '90s.

Recommended Albums: Blind Boy Fuller's Trucking My Blues Away features the guitarist's distinctive sound and incredible playing style.

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