CANCELLED! Woody Guthrie's Northwest Folk Songs with Ben Hunter and Joe Seamons
About Ben Hunter and Joe Seamons
The history of American roots music in the early 20th century could never fit into an encyclopedia. its too ramshackle, too rambunctious, too radical. Fiddlers, guitarists, banjo players, and all kinds of folks rambled those early roads, learning from each other, inspiring each other, and pushing the music in new directions. Music constantly switched back and forth across the racial divide, beholden only to the beat and the dance. Its this fevered period of musical exchange that inspires Northwest roots music duo Ben Hunter & Joe Seamons. The songs on their new album, The North Wind & The Sun, tap into everything from Memphis Jug Band blues to work songs recorded in Southern prisons. They also touch on an 1861 composition used to recruit black troops for the Civil war, an original adaptaton of old topical songs about corrupt clergymen, and an early jazz composition of Duke Ellington. All of these traditions are tied together in the swirling musical whirlpool of pre-war American music. In January of 2016, the Washington Blues Society sent Ben and Joe to the 26th annual International Blues Challenge in Memphis, TN. There, they were awarded 1st placeout of 94 solo/duo acts representing 16 countriesfor their unique blend of pre-blues a cappella field hollers, fiddle & banjo breakdowns, and duet distillations of early jazz.
Ben and Joe have been playing together for almost 5 years, the last 3 of which sent them to the Port Townsend Acoustic Blues Festival, learning at the feet of the elders of the acoustic blues tradition. They found an affinity in the many branches that tied into the blues and created this duo as a way to explore these branches. Their musical kinship and sense of joy in interpreting this music is evident and was the basis of an invitation Dom Flemons (formerly of the Carolina Chocolate Drops) to tour and record for his album Prospect Hill. Last year, they launched an ongoing documentary film project to explore modern day music along the Mississippi River. Rather than thinking of their music as blues, its best to situate Ben and Joe as American songsters. A songster traditionally refers to an artist whose repertoire is much broader than the old blues, and spans many of the genres that Ben and Joe Inhabit. Uncle Dave Macon and Robert Johnson are classic examples of songsters. Whatever you want to call it, Ben Hunter & Joe Seamons make American music. They make music that hews to the rough-and-tumble collisions of musical inspirations from the early 20th century; music that paved the way for everything we enjoy today.
Artichoke Music (View)
3130 SE Hawthorne Blvd
Portland, OR 97214
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