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Rory Block brings blues to Carbondale

Folk/blues singer-guitarist Rory Block returns for a second show at Steve's Guitars on Wednesday. (Carla Gahr/roryblock.com)
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CARBONDALE ” The Delta blues found its way to downtown Carbondale last night, where singer-songwriter-guitarist Rory Block proved her chops as a country blues singer and slide guitarist to a small, but riveted audience at Steve’s Guitars.

Anyone who wasn’t smart enough to grab a seat for Tuesday’s show has another chance ” Block takes the stage in Steve’s listening room again Wednesday at 8:30 p.m.

The two-time winner of the W.C. Handy Award for Best Acoustic Blues Album, armed with a vintage Martin guitar and three Rory Block signature edition Martins, delved right into the songs of blues legend Robert Johnson, doing justice to recordings like “Cross Road Blues,” “Preaching Blues” and “Rambling On My Mind.” Her metal slide, she confided, is a 14-millimeter socket from a socket-wrench set; it fits her ring finger better than the traditional bottleneck slides her ’60s contemporaries were fashioning when Block emerged from the Greenwich Village scene with a passion for the blues.



But when she set down the slide to pick Johnson’s “Me and the Devil Blues” ” another selection off her 2006 Rykodisc release devoted to Johnson covers, “The Lady and Mr. Johnson” ” the full extent of her mastery probably left more than one guitarist in the room wondering why they bother.

Block interspersed country blues covers, including Johnson selections and Muddy Waters’ “I Be Bound,” with originals in folk and blues styles, plenty of storytelling and a guitar-tuning lesson (she has released two DVDs on how to play Johnson’s material).



Andy Putnam opened for Block on Tuesday; Russ Chapman plays an opening set on Wednesday. Admission is $20; call 963-3304 to reserve a seat.

Coincidentally, the blues act booked at Steve’s on Friday cites Block among his influences. Alvin Youngblood Hart, nominated for a 2002 Grammy for Best Traditional Blues Recording for his “Down in the Alley,” will take the stage at 8:30 p.m. His 1996 debut, “Big Mamas Door,” earned five WC Handy Blues Awards nominations. Admission is $15.

Saturday brings yet another night of folk/blues to Steve’s with Possessed by Paul Jones ” the stage name for Konrad Wert’s one-man band. Wert, these days a Howard, Colo. resident, incorporates fiddle, banjo, guitar, mandolin and stomp box into his arrangements, accompanying his raw, occasionally frantic and ” yeah, you could call it possessed ” voice.

“There’s grunting, growling, melody, balladry, oppression, dirt, grit, love, taxes, death…with God, religion and revelation,” was The Austin Chronicle’s take on Wert’s old-timey sound. (Warning: there’s also plenty of the F-word in at least one of Wert’s compositions, “Fiddle FK.”)

Wert’s debut CD, “Possessed by Paul Jones” on Italy’s Shake Your Ass Records, led to a European tour.

Said Dusted Magazine: “If this guy performs within 500 miles of you, start planning the road trip.”

As usual, show time is 8:30 p.m. Wert’s sister, Katrina, will be the guest emcee for the evening. No word on the admission price.


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