A Conversation with Ray Roberston and Jas Obrecht
Lives of the Poets (with Guitars): Thirteen Outsiders Who Changed Modern Music
Early Blues: The First Stars of Blues Guitar
Ray Robertson is the author of the novels Home Movies, Heroes, Moody Food, Gently Down the Stream, What Happened Later, and David, as well as a collection of non-fiction, Mental Hygiene: Essays on Writers and Writing. He is a contributing book reviewer to the Globe and Mail.
A twenty-year editor for Guitar Player and the founding editor of Pure Guitar magazine, Jas Obrecht has been writing about music since the mid 1970s. He wrote the first nationally published cover stories on Eddie Van Halen, Eric Johnson, Steve Lukather, Steve Morse, Yngwie Malmsteen, Steve Vai, and Joe Satriani. His other Guitar Player cover stories include Mick Ralphs, Pat Travers, Jeff Beck, Jeff Baxter, Billy Gibbons, Duane Allman, Craig Chaquico, Charlie Christian, Steve Morse, Andy Summers, Randy Rhoads, Brian May, Muddy Waters, Brian Setzer, Jimi Hendrix, Angus Young, Buddy Guy, Otis Rush, Neil Young, B.B. King, John Lee Hooker, Ry Cooder, Keith Richards, Albert Collins, and John Lennon. He written for all of the major blues magazines, as well as for scholarly journals, fanzines, and websites. His books include Masters of Heavy Metal, Blues Guitar: The Men Who Made the Music, Rollin’ & Tumblin’: The Postwar Blues Guitarists, and My Son Jimi, co-authored with James A. Hendrix. He wrote the liners for Robert Johnson’s King of Delta Blues, Blind Willie Johnson’s Dark Was the Night, and John Lee Hooker’s 50 Years: John Lee Hooker Anthology, and produced DVDs and CDs for Buckethead. He lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and can be reached at email@example.com .
“The days of poets moping around castle steps wearing black capes is over. The poets of today are amplified.”—Leonard Cohen
Picking up where Samuel Johnson left off more than two centuries ago, Ray Robertson’s Lives of the Poets (with Guitars) offers up an amplified gathering of thirteen portraits of rock & roll, blues, folk, and alt-country’s most inimitable artists. Irreverent and riotous, Robertson explores the “greater or lesser heat” with which each musician shaped their genre, while offering absorbing insight into their often tumultuous lives.
Since the early 1900s, blues and the guitar have traveled side by side. This book tells the story of their pairing from the first reported sightings of blues musicians, to the rise of nationally known stars, to the onset of the Great Depression, when blues recording virtually came to a halt.
Like the best music documentaries, "Early Blues: The First Stars of Blues Guitar" interweaves musical history, quotes from celebrated musicians (B.B. King, John Lee Hooker, Ry Cooder, and Johnny Winter, to name a few), and a spellbinding array of life stories to illustrate the early days of blues guitar in rich and resounding detail. In these chapters, you ll meet Sylvester Weaver, who recorded the world’s first guitar solos, and Paramount Records artists Papa Charlie Jackson, Blind Lemon Jefferson, and Blind Blake, the King of Ragtime Blues Guitar. Blind Willie McTell, the Southeast s superlative twelve-string guitar player, and Blind Willie Johnson, street-corner evangelist of sublime gospel blues, also get their due, as do Lonnie Johnson, the era s most influential blues guitarist; Mississippi John Hurt, with his gentle, guileless voice and syncopated fingerpicking style; and slide guitarist Tampa Red, the Guitar Wizard.
Drawing on a deep archive of documents, photographs, record company ads, complete discographies, and up-to-date findings of leading researchers, this is the most comprehensive and complete account ever written of the early stars of blues guitar an essential chapter in the history of American music.