Blues Guitar

Etta Baker

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Etta Baker

Blues guitarist

Caldwell County

Etta Baker was a master of the blues guitar style that became popular in the southern piedmont after the turn of the century. She was raised in the foothills of Caldwell County where music was central in the lives of her family and friends. Both parents played several instruments, and she began picking the guitar at the age of three. "I was so small, I had to lay the guitar on the bed, stand on the floor and play the neck," she recalled.

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Adam Tanner

String band musician

Weaverville, NC (Buncombe County)

A resident of Buncombe County since 2000, Adam Tanner is a well known performer and recording artist in a variety of traditional acoustic styles. In his work with the Crooked Jades, the Hunger Mountain Boys, Frank Lee, the Twilite Broadcasters, and solo, Tanner's music spans the genres of traditional Appalachian and progressive string band music, early bluegrass, and pre-War blues.

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Clyde Ferguson

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Howard Colbert

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Rob Baskerville

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Clyde "Pop" Ferguson

Blues musician

Lenoir, NC (Caldwell County)

Clyde "Pop" Ferguson is one of the last practitioners of traditional blues in the North Carolina foothills. The son of a guitar-playing Holiness preacher, Clyde was steeped in the music of the African American community of North Wilkesboro. He got his start playing for revivals with a family group that included two sisters on drums and piano and his brother on trumpet. Clyde fell in love with the blues, which upset his father.

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Howard Colbert

Blues musician

Hickory, NC

Howard Colbert grew up in the town of Lenoir, where he heard the sounds of clawhammer banjo and blues guitar, two local traditions. Howard's grandfather and father played the banjo in clawhammer and frailing styles, respectively. Howard remembers his grandfather coming to visit and playing his banjo playing in the Colberts' front yard. "Grandpa would get crowds of people in the yard when he played," he remembers.

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Rob Baskerville

Blues musician

Todd, NC (Ashe County)

"Surprisingly, most of my influences are harp players," says blues guitar player Rob Baskerville. "I was fascinated with blues music, so I would travel around North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi looking for players." Rob has met, toured, and recorded with dozens of blues musicians, including Jerry McCain, Charlie Bristol, Neal Pattman, Thomas "Guitar" Gable, "Chicago" Bob Nelson, and Bo Diddley.

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Rhonda Gouge

Guitar, banjo, string bass, mandolin player and teacher

Bakersville, NC (Mitchell County)

Since her birth in McDowell County in 1955, Rhonda Gouge has lived in Mitchell County, and she has played guitar since she was a young girl. "I was exposed to music through my mom and her family," she says. Rhonda's mother was an expert shape-note singer and could play piano by ear. Her brothers and sisters were also musical. Rhonda became fascinated with the guitar while watching Arthur Smith and Fred Kirby perform on the Arthur Smith Show from WBTV in Charlotte, the one television channel her family's antenna would receive.

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