Tag Archives: Paul Geremia

Blues great Paul Geremia sidelined by stroke

 

Paul Geremia's "Love My Stuff," issued in 2011, is a superb collection of many of his most familiar tunes in live performance.

Paul Geremia’s “Love My Stuff,” issued in 2011, is a superb collection of many of his most familiar tunes in live performance.

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 paulgeremia@gmail.com or by post at:

Ohio Health and Rehabilitation
1087 Dennison Ave.
Columbus, OH 43201
Attn: Paul Geremia

 

New collection skims the cream of Caffè Lena’s rich musical history

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Live At Caffè Lena: Music From America’s Legendary Coffeehouse, 1967-2013 is slated for release on Sept. 24.

A review of Live At Caffè Lena: Music From America’s Legendary Coffeehouse, 1967-2013, with buying and streaming links after the jump

I’ve always meant to visit the legendary Caffè Lena, the tiny coffeehouse at 47 Phila Street in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

Devonsquare, the sweet-harmonizing folk-rock trio, first piqued my curiosity about Lena and Bill Spencer’s cafe (or caffè, as they dubbed it, using two f’s) with their song “Caffè Lena” on the  1987 album Walking on Ice.

Caffè Lena was a place of mythical proportions to me then. For one reason or another, I never found myself in Saratoga Springs.

After all, I live close to The Turning Point in Piermont, N.Y., a music cafe that is, while 16 years younger than Caffè Lena, has a similar mission and musical profile.

And then there was the Towne Crier in Pawling, N.Y.,  from 1972 until closing in June with plans to reopen soon in Beacon. That gave me a backup option just a bit farther afield than The Turning Point.

So  I never got myself motivated sufficiently to make the trek to Saratoga Springs.

I should have known I was missing out. And now the Tompkins Square record label has  shoved into my face some very real evidence of exactly how much I’ve missed. Continue reading