Rory Block | Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Rory Block 


Rory Block came of age during the folk boom in New York, when aspiring blues guitar pickers could still learn directly from immortals like Reverend Gary Davis, Son House, and Mississippi John Hurt. Along with Stefan Grossman and other fellow travelers, Block developed a style that was as true as possible to her mentors' musical and spiritual roots but also incorporated aesthetic and lyrical complexities absorbed from the bohemian intellectual atmosphere of the time. Block has claimed she feels as if the great bluesmen are reincarnated in her when she plays, and in fact she can impeccably reproduce the guitar work of artists ranging from dexterous Piedmont finger pickers like Blind Willie McTell to brooding Delta existentialists like Robert Johnson. Her perfect reverence can lend a certain iciness to her performances, but it's thawed by her own heartrending creations, which she intersperses with the folk-blues classics. Sometimes through the blues, sometimes in country-folk lamentations, Block tells her own stories with the kind of bare-nerved vulnerability that few performers in any idiom have the courage to summon. Friday, 9:30 PM, Buddy Guy's Legends, 754 S. Wabash; 312-427-0333 or 312-427-1190. DAVID WHITEIS

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo by Carla Gahr.

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