Acoustic blues musician Paul Geremia had a stroke in late June, family and friends confirm.
Geremia, who is 70, spent a few days a hospital after he had the stroke the weekend of June 28, and was moved to an Ohio rehab facility. Friends who have spoken with or visited Paul say he seems to be progressing well.
Geremia, a native of Providence, R.I., is a first-rate bluesman, a songwriter and a scholar of early jazz and blues — one who has worked steadily at his craft since the 1960s. He has produced 11 albums since 1968 and has toured steadily
He is an amazing guitarist and is considered one of the best country blues fingerpickers on six and twelve-string guitar — acoustic only, he doesn’t record on electric — a soaring harmonica-player, and has a husky soulful voice.
He’s shared the stage with Babe Stovall, Yank Rachel,Son House, Skip James, Howlin’ Wolf, and most importantly, Carolina bluesman Pink Anderson, who had something of a career rebirth thanks to Geremia’s efforts. Geremia also absorbed the music of Leadbelly, Percy Mayfield, Charlie Patton, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Robert Johnson, Willie McTell, Scrapper Blackwell, Blind Blake, and many more. He also writes songs that fit neatly into that rich musical niche.
Blues musician Roy Bookbinder said recently, “Paul is the king of all of us.” The late Dave Van Ronk called Geremia “the best acoustic blues musician in America.” Acoustic Guitar magazine named Geremia “one of the best country blues fingerpickers ever.”
Terri Thal, who managed Van Ronk and Geremia in the 1960s, tells this story about Geremia:
“Recently, when Martus, the man I live with, and I went to the Turning Point in Piermont, N.Y., to hear Paul, as we do whenever he plays there, Martus asked, ‘Do you thing he’ll play anything new?’
“Of course, I didn’t know what Paul’s set would comprise. Lo and behold, the entire set was music we hadn’t heard before–or at least, for a long time–and we’ve heard Paul often.
“I think his memory is stashed with such a huge variety of songs and stories that he could go for many hours playing without repeating anything.”
Fans are encouraged to write to Geremia during his long recuperation. He’s reachable by email at at firstname.lastname@example.org or by post at:
Ohio Health and Rehabilitation
1087 Dennison Ave.
Columbus, OH 43201
Attn: Paul Geremia