Cephas & Wiggins

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Cephas & Wiggins was an American acoustic blues duo, composed of guitarist John Cephas (September 4, 1930[1] – March 4, 2009)[2] and harmonica player Phil Wiggins (born May 8, 1954).[3] They were known for playing Piedmont blues.


Both musicians were born in Washington D.C., although Cephas was older by some 25 years. They first met at a jam session at the Smithsonian's Festival of American Folklife in 1975 or 1976, and played together in Wilbert "Big Chief" Ellis's band.[4] When Ellis died, they decided to continue as a duo.[5]

In 1980, Cephas & Wiggins were recorded by German archivists Siegfried Christmann and Axel Kustner.[6] These recordings were their first as a duo and they were released the following year on as a part of Living Country Blues USA series on German label L+R.[7] They also appeared around Washington, D.C. with 'the Travelling Blues Workshop', which included John Jackson, Archie Edwards, Flora Molton, and Mother Scott.[8]

In 1986, Cephas & Wiggins released Dog Days of August, their first U.S. release on Flying Fish Records. In 1989, Cephas was awarded the National Heritage Fellowship.

Two more albums followed from Flying Fish. After they left the label, they released one album from New York-based Chesky Records, and four from Alligator Records.

Cephas died of natural causes on March 4, 2009. He was 78.[9] The duo had released Richmond Blues on Folkways Records in 2008.



  • 1981 Living Country Blues USA Vol. 1 (L+R)
  • 1984 Sweet Bitter Blues (L+R, reissued by Evidence Records in 1994)
  • 1985 Let It Roll: Bowling Green (Marimac)
  • 1986 Dog Days of August (Flying Fish)
  • 1987 Guitar Man (Flying Fish)
  • 1988 Walking Blues (Marimac)
  • 1992 Flip, Flop & Fly (Flying Fish)
  • 1993 Bluesmen (Chesky)
  • 1996 Cool Down (Alligator)
  • 1999 Homemade (Alligator)
  • 2002 Somebody Told the Truth (Alligator) – U.S. Blues #6[10]
  • 2006 Shoulder to Shoulder (Alligator)
  • 2008 Richmond Blues (Smithsonian Folkways)

Compilation albums[edit]

  • 1998 Goin' Down the Road Feelin' Bad (Evidence) – compilation of L+R material
  • 2000 From Richmond to Atlanta (Rounder) – compilation of Flying Fish material


  1. ^ John Cephas on Allmusic
  2. ^ John Cephas Dies – Pollstar obituary
  3. ^ Phil Wiggins on Allmusic
  4. ^ Cephas & Wiggins on Allmusic
  5. ^ Liner notes toSweet Bitter Blues
  6. ^ Liner notes to Goin' Down the Road Feelin' Bad
  7. ^ L+R Records discography
  8. ^ "Archie Edwards biography by Linda Seida". Allmusic.com. Retrieved September 15, 2011. 
  9. ^ Sisario, Ben (March 7, 2009). "John Cephas, Guitarist With the Duo Cephas and Wiggins, Dies at 78". The New York Times. Retrieved March 7, 2009. 
  10. ^ Billboard, Allmusic.com

External links[edit]