About Rory Block
Heralded as “a living landmark” (Berkeley Express), “a national treasure” (Guitar Extra), and “one of the greatest living acoustic blues artists” (Blues Revue), Rory Block has committed her life and her career to preserving the Delta blues tradition and bringing it to life for 21st century audiences around the world. A traditionalist and an innovator at the same time, she wields a fiery and haunting guitar and vocal style that redefines the boundaries of acoustic blues and folk.
Born in Princeton, NJ, Aurora “Rory” Block grew up in Manhattan a family with Bohemian leanings. Her father owned a Greenwich Village sandal shop, where musicians like Bob Dylan, Maria Muldaur and John Sebastian all made occasional appearances. The rich and diverse Village scene was a constant influence on her cultural sensibilities. She was playing guitar by age ten, and by her early teens she was sitting in on the Sunday jam sessions in Washington Square Park.
During these years, her life was touched – and profoundly changed – by personal encounters with some of the earliest and most influential Delta blues masters of the 20th century. She made frequent visits to the Bronx, where she swapped stories and guitar licks with seminal bluesman Son House, Robert Johnson’s mentor (“He kept asking, ‘Where did she learn to play like this?’”). She visited Skip James in the hospital after his cancer surgery. She traveled to Washington, DC, to visit with Mississippi John Hurt and absorb first-hand his technique and his creativity.
Block left home at 15 with her guitar and a few friends – heading for California on a trip marked by numerous detours and stops in small towns. Along he way, she picked her way through a vast catalog of country blues songs and took her first steps in developing a fingerpicking and slide guitar style that would eventually be her trademark.
After some aborted attempts at a full-fledged music career in the 1960s and 70s, Block committed to touring full-time in the 1980s, honing her craft like only time on the road can. By the early 1990s, she had built up quite a following. Then came the awards: 5 Blues Music Awards in the 1990s and a Gold certified album in Europe. Today Block is at the height of her creative powers, bringing country blues to a new generation of eager ears.
What Other People Have Been Saying...
“Some of the most singular and affecting country blues anyone, man or woman, black or white, old or young has cut in recent years.” -Rolling Stone
“Her playing is perfect, her singing otherworldly as she wrestles with ghosts, shadows and legends.” -New York Times
- Blues Revue