Roy Book Binder

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Roy Book Binder
Background information
Born (1943-10-05) October 5, 1943 (age 79)
Queens, New York City, United States
GenresFolk blues, acoustic blues[1]
Occupation(s)Guitarist, singer, songwriter
Instrument(s)Guitar, vocals
Years activeMid-1960s–present

Roy Book Binder (born October 5, 1943 as Paul Roy Bookbinder) is an American blues guitarist, singer-songwriter and storyteller.[1] A student and friend of the Rev. Gary Davis, he is equally at home with blues and ragtime. He is known to shift from open tunings to slide arrangements to original compositions, with both traditional and self-styled licks. His storytelling is another characteristic that makes his style unique.

Life and career[edit]

Book Binder was born in Queens, New York City.[1] Upon graduation from high school, he joined the Navy and undertook a tour of duty in Europe. He bought his first guitar at a military base in Italy. After completing his enlistment, he returned to New York, where he met and became friends with his guitar hero, Dave Van Ronk. Book Binder soon sought out Davis, who also lived in New York, and became his student and later his chauffeur and tour companion.[1] Much of Book Binder's original material is based on his time on the road with Davis.

By the mid- to late 1960s Book Binder was recording for both Kicking Mule and Blue Goose Records.[1] In 1969, he toured England with Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup and Homesick James.

After meeting another of his musical influences, the bluesman Pink Anderson, Book Binder released his first album, Travelin' Man, on Adelphi.[1] The album was named after one of the songs he learned from Anderson.

In 1973 he began a partnership with the fiddler Fats Kaplin, and they recorded Git Fiddle Shuffle in 1973.[1] They performed together for three years, playing numerous concerts and recording a second album, Ragtime Millionaire, in 1977. After this partnership dissolved, Book Binder began touring the country, living in a motor home, and concentrating on live performances.[1]

Book Binder has been described as a guitar-picking hillbilly bluesman.[2] He has released 12 albums and has performed at most major blues and folk festivals in the U.S. and Europe, including Merlefest. Notables that have shared the stage with Book Binder include Bonnie Raitt, B.B. King, John Jackson, Sonny Terry, Doc Watson, Ray Charles, and Brownie McGhee. He has appeared regularly on Nashville Now. He is listed in Blues Who's Who, by the music historian Sheldon Harris.

Book Binder is a veteran guitar instructor and teaches at the Fur Peace Ranch with Jorma Kaukonen and others whose lives have been influenced by Davis. There he demonstrates songs, turnarounds, chord variations, right-hand methods, and many of his own powerful adaptations and unique approaches to the blues.

Book Binder's album Hillbilly Blues Cats (Rounder) was named as one of the ten most essential acoustic guitar albums of 1992. The 1992 category winners also included Eric Clapton's Unplugged, Lyle Lovett's Joshua Judges Ruth and Neil Young's Harvest Moon.


  • Travelin' Man (1971, Adelphi Records)
  • Git Fiddle Shuffle (1975, Blue Goose Records)
  • Ragtime Millionaire (1977, Blue Goose)
  • Goin' Back to Tampa (1979, Flying Fish Records)
  • Bookeroo! (1988, Rounder Records)
  • The Hillbilly Blues Cats (1992, Rounder)
  • Live Book... Don't Start Me Talkin... (1994, Rounder)
  • Polk City Ramble (1998, Rounder)
  • The Radio Show (2000, PEGleg Records)
  • Singer Songwriter Bluesman (2001, PEGleg)
  • Live at the Fur Peace Station (2005, PEGleg)[1]
  • In Concert ... Road Songs & Stories (2009, PEGleg)
  • The Good Book (2013, PEGleg)
  • In Concert Road Songs And Stories (2017, PEGleg)
  • Live At The Fur Peace Station (PEGleg)


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Biography by Ron Wynn". Retrieved September 1, 2011.
  2. ^ Colin Larkin, ed. (1995). The Guinness Who's Who of Blues (Second ed.). Guinness Publishing. p. 46. ISBN 0-85112-673-1.

External links[edit]