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Block's blues evoke the Delta

Published Oct. 9, 2005

True to form, the State Theater's last show will feature one of the best traditional blues performers in the game. Rory Block will perform her riveting style of Delta blues tonight _ playing the final sad notes before the theater closes due to financial difficulties.

Rory Block's blues is real _ she was taught by the best. As a child growing up in New York's Greenwich Village folk scene of the '50s and '60s, she met legions of traditional musicians in her father's W Fourth Street leather shop, a haven for many famous folkies.

Her father, Alan Block, was a well known sandal maker and a popular old-timey fiddler at folk festivals. Many famous players spent afternoons trading hot licks in Block's leather shop, including John Sebastian and Bob Dylan.

Rory took notice. She sat at the feet of the legendary Son House and others and came to love the blues, learning much more about the music than the simple rhythm she strummed on guitar when she accompanied her parents.

She listened to records of the Delta blues by Robert Johnson, Charley Patton and Blind Willie McTell. And she learned the traditional guitar style of the early country blues.

Now, after several phases in her musical career, including one in the '70s where a recording company insisted she do disco, Block is gaining the recognition she deserves. Her 1991 Rounder album, Mama's Blues, showcased her writing talents on five original tunes.

Ain't I A Woman?, her current release, is the 10th album Block has done for Rounder, and her most original work to date. It features such musicians as Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits and her old friend John Sebastian.

Block is working on an album for release in January that will feature all original material.

Though she has often been compared to Bonnie Raitt _ in fact the two grew up together and are old friends _ Rory Block is quite different.

She is more traditional in her blues, and her haunting vocals seem to be rising right out of the steamy Delta.


Rory Block performs at 8:30 tonight at the State Theater, 687 Central Ave. in St. Petersburg. Tickets are $15. Call 821-9584.