Blues 'N Bones
Archie Edwards, master of Piedmont Blues
With Richard "Mr. Bones" Thomas
Grab Your Bones and Play Along With The Blues
As Archie put it, "I play what they call the old Piedmont style, but I call it East Virginia blues 'cause that's where I learned it." I'm entranced by his amiable, sitting-on-the-porch vocals and his relaxed steel and slide guitars. Archie's sound is raw blues mixed with country, ragtime and spirituals - all heavily influenced by his teacher, Mississippi John Hurt. Songs like "Payday", "John Henry" and "That Won't Do" are captivatingly simple and uncluttered. You can hear the incredibly rich detail of Archie's finger-pickin' and the authentic rapid-fire clack of Mr. Bones' rib bone percussion. Mark Wenner, leader of the Nighthawks, sits in on harmonica for a few songs too.
Richard "Mr. Bones" Thomas
I saw Richard Thomas play live with Archie Edwards at a cozy Focal Point concert, here in Saint Louis in 1996.
After the concert we talked quite a bit about bones. He really appreciated my observation that it's difficult to play slow tempos. We were soon surrounded by a small entourage listening to us talk shop. So on and on Richard Thomas and I kept yakking about bones.
Archie was a bit chagrined as he kept asking my opinion about particular tunes he played that night, and I had to tell him that I'm sure they were wonderful, but I really don't know anything about Blues and, well...I was here to see the bones player. Eventually Richard Thomas and I made our way outside where we continued chatting in the parking lot.
Some Facts About His Bone Playing Technique
been a few years ago, so the only facts about his playing technique I
can share with you are that he played four cow rib bones (two in each
hand) while seated.
We also checked out each others bones. At
the time I was carrying my favorite set of Lark In The Morning "bone
bones." These are the kind that look like ivory but are made from cow
shins. Richard Thomas wondered how I was able to play them as they are
so thin. I would characterize his set as big heavy clunky cow ribs.
Grace and Style
Thomas displays a graceful style that evokes his own unique
personality. And his Focal Point performance made an indelible
impression on me. It took quite a few years for this to evolve, but I
am delighted to report that some elements of his style have indeed
rubbed off on me - at least when I play challenging slow tempo tunes.
Archie Edwards Blues Heritage Foundation
Archie and Richard Thomas are both gone now. But you can jam with first-rate blues musicians at the Archie Edwards Blues Heritage Foundation. Keep in mind, if you visit, that one bone player is usually more than enough. The foundation was located at Archie's former barber shop in Washington, DC for over a decade. The Saturday jam has now relocated to the HR-57-Center for the Preservation of Jazz and Blues.
A few years ago I played a set on stage with a steamin' Delta Blues player from Chicago named "Diamond" Jim Greene. As it turned out, Diamond Jim learned from Archie Edwards years ago at his Washington DC barber shop. I might note that I played big heavy clunky cow ribs (similar to those of Richard Thomas) on one tune - and we got a standing ovation. (Of course Jim's stellar performance may have had something to do with it).
So get out a set or two of big clunky rib bones and enjoy this rare vintage Blues 'N Bones CD by Archie Edwards and Richard Thomas. You will be glad you did.
Excellent Play-Along CD
Look what's on the CD:
John Henry* 4:16
Meet Me In The Bottom 4:32
I Called My Baby Long Distance# 3:34
That Won't Do* 3:30
My Old School Mates#* 5:24
Hen's Cackle* 2:02
Saturday Night Hop# 3:50
Baby, Please Gimme A Break#* 3:34
T For Texas 3:45
10. Sitting On Top Of The World 4:10
11. Payday* 3:15
12. Take Me Back Baby 3:37
13. Little Girl#* 3:37
#Originals by Archie Edwards
*Richard Thomas on bones
Archie Edwards, Vocals, Guitar, Ukele and vocals
Richard Thomas, Bones
Mark Wenner, Harmonica
Vernel Fournier, Drums
Click "The Inside Story..." tab above for behind-the-scenes information you are not likely to find any place else.