||This article has an unclear citation style. (August 2008)|
|Stylistic origins||Blues, ragtime and piano blues|
|Cultural origins||1920s, East Coast of the United States|
|Typical instruments||Guitar, vocals, drums, bass|
|List of Piedmont blues musicians|
Piedmont blues (also known as East Coast, or Southeastern blues) refers primarily to a guitar style, the Piedmont fingerstyle, which is characterized by a fingerpicking approach in which a regular, alternating thumb bass string rhythmic pattern supports a syncopated melody using the treble strings generally picked with the fore-finger, occasionally others. The result is comparable in sound to ragtime or stride piano styles.
The term was coined by blues researcher Peter B. Lowry, who in turn gives co-credit to fellow folklorist Bruce Bastin. The Piedmont style is differentiated from other styles, particularly the Mississippi Delta blues, by its ragtime-based rhythms.
The basis of the Piedmont style began with the older "frailing" or "framming" guitar styles that may have been universal throughout the South, and was also based, at least to some extent, on formal "parlor guitar" techniques as well as earlier banjo playing, string band, and ragtime. What was particular to the Piedmont was that a generation of players adapted these older, ragtime-based techniques to blues in a singular and popular fashion, influenced by guitarists such as Blind Blake and Gary Davis.
The Piedmont blues was named after the Piedmont plateau region, on the East Coast of the United States from about Richmond, Virginia to Atlanta, Georgia. Piedmont blues musicians come from this area, as well as Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and northern Florida, western South Carolina, central North Carolina, eastern Tennessee, Kentucky, and Alabama - later the Northeastern cities such as Boston, Newark, New Jersey, and New York.
Recording artists such as Blind Blake, Josh White, Buddy Moss, and Blind Boy Fuller helped spread the style on the strength of their sales throughout the region. It was a nationally popular with the African-American audience for about twenty years from the mid-1920s through to the mid-1940s. Blind Boy Fuller's 1940 recording of "Step It Up and Go" sold over half a million copies.
Post-World War II
As a form of Black American popular music, Piedmont blues fell out of favor on a national basis after World War II. By the late-1950s Piedmont blues was being performed at US folk music revivals and festivals initially by established Piedmont blues artists such as Josh White, Rev. Gary Davis, and Brownie McGhee and Sonny Terry, as well as Cephas & Wiggins, John Jackson in later years.
While musicologists such as George Mitchell, Axel Küstner, Kip Lornell, Peter B. Lowry and Tim Duffy collected recordings by the aging community of Piedmont blues players, younger musicians such as Roy Book Binder, Jorma Kaukonen, Paul Geremia, Keb Mo', Michael Roach, Samuel James, Eric Bibb, Ry Cooder, David Bromberg, Ernest Troost, and Guy Davis have carried on the Piedmont tradition, often having "studied" under some of the old Piedmont masters. The Piedmont style of guitar playing has also influenced other popular musicians such as Doc Watson, Paul Simon, Nick Drake, Ralph McTell, and Mark Knopfler.
- Pink Anderson
- Etta Baker
- Barbecue Bob
- Blind Blake
- Cephas & Wiggins
- Elizabeth Cotten
- Floyd Council
- Reverend Gary Davis
- Blind Boy Fuller
- Peg Leg Howell
- Luke Jordan
- Carl Martin
- Brownie McGhee
- Blind Willie McTell
- William Moore
- Buddy Moss
- Bull City Red
- Lesley Riddle
- Bumble Bee Slim
- Drink Small
- Baby Tate
- Sonny Terry
- Willie Walker
- Curley Weaver
- Josh White
- Peg Leg Sam
- "East Coast Piedmont Blues" UNC Asheville
- Du Noyer, Paul (2003). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Music (1st ed.). Fulham, London: Flame Tree Publishing. p. 169. ISBN 1-904041-96-5.
- Harris, Jeff "Some Ramblings On Peter B. Lowry, Field Recording & The Trix Label" Big Road Blues
- Pete Lowry, "Some Cold, Rainy Day: part 5 - Robert and Charlie Hicks" Blues Unlimited #103, p. 15 (1973)
- Pete Lowry, "Some Cold, Rainy Day: part 2 - Curley Weaver" Blues Unlimited #99, pp. 10-11 (1972)
- Bastin, Bruce (1986). Red River Blues: The Blues Tradition in the Southeast. University of Illinois Press.
- Bruce Bastin; "Truckin' My Blues Away: East Coast Piedmont Styles" in Nothing But The Blues: The Music and the Musicians, ed. Lawrence Cohn (1993) Abbeville Press, New York
- Bastin, Bruce (1986/1995) Red River Blues: The Blues Tradition in the Southeast (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press). ISBN 0-252-06521-2, ISBN 978-0-252-06521-7 at Google Books
- Cohen, Andrew M. (2008). "The Hands of Blues Guitarists." In Ramblin' on My Mind: New Perspectives on the Blues, ed. David Evans (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press). ISBN 0-252-03203-9.
- Bastin, Bruce. (1971) Crying for the Carolines (London: Studio Vista). ISBN 028970297.
- Lowry, Peter B. (1977) "Atlanta Black Sound: A Survey of Black music from Atlanta During the 20th Century" in The Atlanta Historical Bulletin, Vol. II, No. 2, pp 88–113.
- Welker, Gayle & Peter B. Lowry. (2006) "Piedmont Blues" in The Routledge Encyclopedia of the Blues, ed. Edward Komera (New York: Routledge). ISBN 0-415-92699-8.
- Lowry, Peter B. (2003) "Against the Wind: Tim Duffy and the Music Maker Relief Foundation" in Rhythms (Melbourne) #130/May, pp. 48–50.
- Lowry, Peter B. (2009) "DIY Fieldwork: George Mitchell's Southern Trawlings" in Rhythms (Melbourne) #203/June, pp. 26– 27.