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Piedmont Blues (also known as East Coast blues) refers primarily to a guitar style, the Piedmont fingerstyle, which is characterized by a fingerpicking approach in which a regular, alternating thumb bass string rhythmic pattern supports a syncopated melody using the treble strings generally picked with the fore-finger, occasionally others. The result is comparable in sound to ragtime or stride piano styles.

The term was coined by blues researcher Peter B. Lowry, who in turn gives co-credit to fellow folklorist Bruce Bastin. The Piedmont style is differentiated from other styles, particularly the Mississippi Delta blues, by its ragtime-based rhythms.

Paul Oliver stated '...Emphasis on good execution, rhythmically free flowing, lighter in texture... It had a distinct flavour which mingled with that of the hillbilly and mountain singers of the rural tradition'.

(also known as East Coast blues) refers primarily to a guitar style, the Piedmont fingerstyle, which is characterized by a fingerpicking approach in which a regular, alternating thumb bass string rhythmic pattern supports a syncopated melody using the treble strings generally picked with the fore-finger, occasionally others. The result is comparable in sound to ragtime or stride piano styles.

The term was coined by blues researcher Peter B. Lowry, who in turn gives co-credit to fellow folklorist Bruce Bastin. The Piedmont style is differentiated from other styles, particularly the Mississippi Delta blues, by its ragtime-based rhythms.

Paul Oliver stated '...Emphasis on good execution, rhythmically free flowing, lighter in texture... It had a distinct flavour which mingled with that of the hillbilly and mountain singers of the rural tradition'.

Origins

The basis of the Piedmont style began with the older 'frailing' or 'framming' guitar styles that may have been universal throughout the South, and was also based, at least to some extent, on formal 'parlor guitar' techniques as well as earlier banjo playing, string band, and ragtime. What was particular to the Piedmont was that a generation of players adapted these older, ragtime-based techniques to blues in a singular and popular fashion, influenced by guitarists such as Blind Blake and Gary Davis.

Geography

The Piedmont blues was named after the Piedmont plateau region, on the East Coast of the United States from about Richmond, Virginia to Atlanta, Georgia. Piedmont blues musicians come from this area, as well as Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and northern Florida, western South Carolina, central North Carolina, eastern Tennessee, Kentucky, and Alabama - later the Northeastern cities such as Boston, Newark, New Jersey, and New York.

Recordings

Recording artists such as Blind Blake, Josh White, Buddy Moss, and Blind Boy Fuller helped spread the style on the strength of their sales throughout the region. It was a nationally popular with the African-American audience for about twenty years from the mid-1920s through to the mid-1940s. Blind Boy Fuller's 1940 recording of 'Step It Up and Go' sold over half a million copies.

Etta Baker with acoustic guitar. Photo taken in the front yard of Baker's home in Morganton, North Carolina, 1995.
Post-World War II

As a form of Black American popular music, Piedmont blues fell out of favor on a national basis after World War II. By the late-1950s Piedmont blues was being performed at US folk music revivals and festivals initially by established Piedmont blues artists such as Josh White, Rev. Gary Davis, and Brownie McGhee and Sonny Terry, as well as Cephas & Wiggins, John Jackson in later years.

While musicologists such as George Mitchell, Peter B. Lowry and Tim Duffy collected recordings by the aging community of Piedmont blues players, younger musicians such as Roy Book Binder, Jorma Kaukonen, Paul Geremia, Keb Mo', Michael Roach, Samuel James, Eric Bibb, Ry Cooder, David Bromberg and Guy Davis have carried on the Piedmont tradition, often having 'studied' under some of the old Piedmont masters. The Piedmont style of guitar playing has also influenced other popular musicians such as Doc Watson, Paul Simon, Nick Drake, Ralph McTell, and Mark Knopfler.

Musicians

'In the convict camp in Greene County, Georgia', 1941. Buddy Moss is playing guitar; other men unidentified.

Pink Anderson
Etta Baker
Barbecue Bob
Blind Blake
Cephas & Wiggins
Elizabeth Cotten
Floyd Council
Reverend Gary Davis
Blind Boy Fuller
Peg Leg Howell
Luke Jordan
Carl Martin
Brownie McGhee
Blind Willie McTell
William Moore
Buddy Moss
Lesley Riddle
Bumble Bee Slim
Baby Tate
Sonny Terry
Willie Walker
Curley Weaver
Josh White

This section was created from www.wikipedia.com