Friday, October 30, 2015

notloB Music Presents...

Ben Hunter & Joe Seamons 

w/ Elijah Wald & Sandrine Sheon 

Tuesday, November 3, 7:30pm  (cafe opens at 6:00pm)
Arts at the Armory Cafe
191 Highland Ave, Somerville, Massachusetts 02143
Suggested donation $10-20

notloB Music's Fall music series continues at the intimate (50 seat) cafe at the Somerville Armory.

The history of American roots music in the early 20th century could never fit into an encyclopedia. it’s 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. It’s this fevered period of musical exchange that inspires Northwest roots music duo Ben Hunter & Joe Seamons. The songs on their new album, Take Yo Time, tap into everything from the hokum jug bands of Gus Cannon and the Memphis Sheiks, to country blues masters Reverend Gary Davis, Robert Johnson, and Blind Willie McTell. They also touch on ancient English ballads like House Carpenter, Appalachian murder ballads like the classic Tom Dooley, and the early jazz compositions of Shelton Brooks and Duke Ellington. All of these traditions are tied together in the swirling musical whirlpool of pre-war American music. With a well-rosined fiddle and an old banjo, Ben Hunter & Joe Seamons are tracing these backroads, bringing the songs back to life.

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 form his band when he went solo. Ben and Joe joined Dom on his recent album, Prospect Hill, and toured the US with him, furthering their knowledge of Anglo and African American music traditions. Rather than thinking of their music as blues, it’s best to situate Ben and Joe (and Dom) as American songsters. A songster traditionally refers to an African-American artist whose repertoire is much broader than the old blues, and spans many of the genres that Ben and Joe Inhabit. Big Bill Broonzy and Mississippi John Hurt 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.

Elijah Wald & Sandrine Sheon 
Elijah Wald is a guitarist and singer whose repertoire ranges from old blues and folk songs to ragtime, swing, and classic Swahili pop. After an apprenticeship studying guitar and drinking till dawn with Dave Van Ronk, he has played all over the US, as well as Europe, India, and the Congo. He worked as an accompanist to Eric Von Schmidt, played for five years with the legendary African-American fiddler and mandolinist Howard Armstrong, studied with the Congolese masters Jean-Bosco Mwenda and Edward Masengo, and has recorded an instructional DVD on the music of the Bahamian virtuoso Joseph Spence. He has also written a dozen books on blues, folk, pop, and Mexican music, and there's plenty more info about all of this at In recent years he has been performing with Sandrine Sheon on clarinet, combining their repertoires and underlining the close links between blues, country, ragtime, folk, and jazz.

As we did at our Loring-Greenough concert series, admission is by free-will donation, $10-20 suggested.

are strongly suggested, our cafe artists have been performing to full houses.

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