Music Maker Relief Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping the true pioneers and forgotten heroes of the Blues gain recognition and meet their day-to-day needs. Our blog is dedicated to keeping the conversation about these artists alive & thriving.

Christmas with Guitar Gabriel


Tim Duffy, Guitar Gabriel, Captain Luke, 1991

Guitar Gabriel loved to celebrate and I always loved to see him at holidays. When the Christmas season came around I would always run into Gabe dressed in his wonderful green and red plaid suit, his powder blue tuxedo, or his long fringe leather jacket and studded blue jeans. Of course, he was also always wearing his beloved white fuzzy fur hat. The fun part was this was not in the evening; Gabe would be decked out, ready to go at 8am. I would usually catch up with him on his way to Ezelle’s Drink House. After our first year together, the gigs were good, money was in Gabe’s pockets, and he loved nothing better than to celebrate with his long-time friends.

I will never forget the Christmas Eve when I stopped by Gabe’s house to deliver some delicious food my wife Denise had made. It was early in the day but Gabe had already left. I drove down to Ezelle’s Drink House, there was Gabe dressed to the nines; he had four taxis lined up in front of the Drink House. A motley crew was piling into the cars. When I asked what was going on, Gabe told me that celebrate the holiday he was taking his friends out to visit other Drink Houses in town all day.

After our year of gigging steadily, Gabe was able to pay his monthly expenses and to everyone’s delight (except his wife Dorothy) he was generously sharing his success, setting off on a two-day tour with his old friends celebrating. He said, “Tim, you got to take time and enjoy yourself, you cannot just work all the time. Bye-bye!” He was off! I was exhausted from our recent tour up and down the East Coast so I headed back home to get some rest. I got a call two days later; Gabe needed a ride back home. When I picked him up he was still in the same clothes, looking like and old champ, his eyes weary but seemingly content.

“Gabe, did you have a good Christmas?” I asked. “Tim, I had one helluva time!” he replied. As I carried his guitar and amp up to his house, we could hear a furious Dorothy behind the front door, screaming at Gabe, not unlocking that door anytime soon. Gabe sat down on the stoop, and calmly lit a cigarette. I said, “Bye-bye!”

— Tim


Diggin’: Dom Flemons – Clock on the Wall

Dom Flemons’ versatility is undeniable and traversing musical mountains is second nature to the American Songster. The What Got Over EP is a musical journey and that takes you from ancient fife and drum music to classic Piedmont blues and then to Clock on the Wall, a tune that touches on the earliest and rawest form of rock and roll. The amplified harmonica squeals and moans behind Flemons’ heart wrenching vocals. If you haven’t listened to this album from the American Songster I suggest it strongly.

— Corn

Get a free download of the entire album, What Got Over EP here

Diggin’: Digital Whole Nine Yards


With the holiday season upon us I have decided to do the most ultimate Diggin’ that’s ever been done. I will Dig on the entire Music Maker catalog because that is what you get when you purchase our digital Whole Nine Yards package. For over 20 years Music Maker has worked diligently to document, preserve and foster America’s rarest musical treasures. This collection is much more than just a compilation of blues music, it is a representation of American culture and a definition of who we are . From old time string band party music to rockin’ electric blues, from heartfelt soul to eccentric poetry.

The Whole Nine Yards contains a digital collection of all 170 Music Maker releases consisting of 2,109 songs as well some unreleased gems. This beautiful package comes with a customized walnut USB drive, box, 5 greeting cards and a hard copy of the We Are The Music Makers! book.

Purchase yours here

Spotlight On: Working With Eddie Tigner

duffy_tim, Tigner_ Eddie tintype lo-res

Eddie Tigner was working in a school cafeteria in Atlanta, GA, when I first heard about him in 1995. He had toured the country running an Inkspots group for 35 years. He had played every Holiday Inn and every Army base in the continental US, but by the 1990’s he was retired from music and enjoyed his job feeding the school kids.

Eddie wasn’t really done playing, he told me, but he had sold all his gear. Music Maker bought him a nice electronic keyboard and helped him get started performing locally in Atlanta with the help of MM Board member Mudcat, a legendary Atlanta Blues performer. Soon Eddie joined the Music Maker Blues Revue to play the Chicago Blues Festival, and began regularly touring with us.

Later, when we had a huge record in France, Eddie was part of our European Music Maker tours, performing in Germany, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Portugal, France, Belgium and Austria. Then he brought his blues with us to Australia.

We issued two wonderful recordings of Eddie that are just classics; it has been such and honor to partner with Eddie. This man joined the Army and served with Les Paul and T-Bone Walker and backed up the legendary Elmore James for a year when he played the Atlanta Racetrack Bar. Eddie has played all these years, and at the age of 89 he just tore down at Roots N Blues N BBQ in Columbia, MO.

Eddie and Music Maker are looking ahead, as we always do – booking more shows. At the age of 92 Eddie plays regularly every Sunday in Atlanta at Fat Matts. Go see him!

— Tim


Diggin’: Algia Mae Hinton – Snap Your Fingers


Algia Mae Hinton has a voice like no one else. It’s rough around the edges, but so smooth and flowing at the core as she jumps around her wide vocal range. Her music exudes love, care, and an astonishing talent. “Snap Your Fingers” stands out to me as a song about love and heartbreak unlike any other. Just below the calm and delicate surface you can hear the passion, sorrow, and hope brewing. As Algia Mae croons, “I’d do anything to get back to you,” that powerful mix of emotion seeps into her voice. That depth is what sets Algia Mae apart, and what makes this layered song so unique. Even as she sings this melancholy song, her joy with music remains apparent. She recorded this track in the mid ‘80s for her album Honey Babe, but it is, without a doubt, timeless.

— Abigail

Algia Mae Hinton – Snap Your Fingers



Diggin’ Preston Fulp – Wedding Bells

Preston Fulp

Made famous by Hank Williams, a sad song of unrequited love. Wedding bells are ringing in the chapel/ but wedding bells with never ring for me. These lyrics fit right into the canon of country music, a song that contrasts beautiful imagery with the damning facts of life. AND it’s about as good a blues as ever was written. Preston Fulp’s falsetto delivery and sweet arrangement on the guitar make you bob your head while asking yourself if it’s right to bob your head to such a sad song.

– Aaron



Here are the official lyrics, Preston has taken some liberties.

Wedding Bells

I have the invitation that you sent me

You wanted me to see you change your name
I couldn’t stand to see you wed another
But dear I hope you’re happy just the same

Wedding bells are ringing in the chapel
That should be ringing out for you and me
Down the aisle with someone else you’re walking
Those wedding bells will never ring for me

I planned a little cottage in the valley
I even bought a little band of gold
I thought some day I’d place it on your finger
But now the future looks so dark and cold

Wedding bells are ringing in the chapel
I hear the children laughing out with glee
At home alone I hang my head in sorrow
Those wedding bells will never ring for me

I fancy that I see a bunch of roses
A blossom from an orange tree in your hair
And while the organ plays I love you truly
Please let me pretend that I am there

Wedding bells are ringing in the chapel
Ever since the day you set me free
I knew someday that you would wed another
But wedding bells will never ring for me.



Diggin:’ Captain Luke & Cool John Ferguson – Chokin’ Kind


Captain Luke and Cool John Ferguson created Outsider Lounge Music, a unique blend of deep baritone singing and smooth electric guitar that is a style reserved for it’s originators alone. Captured and recorded on their self-titled album, Outsider Lounge Music is one of those CD’s at Music Maker that does not get passed around very often, due in large part to the album’s magic ability to disappear and never return once it’s been “borrowed.”

“Chokin’ Kind” appears on the album as one of a handful of songs that revolve around the push and pull of falling in and out of love, which, if you’re familiar with the Captain’s music, you know there’s nobody better to guide you through such matters. With a steady forward-moving rhythm flowing out of Cool John’s guitar, Captain’s song of finding new love has the perfect tempo to guide his words of wisdom along. Outsider Lounge Music is definitely in my top 3 of Music Maker albums, and if you do plan on ordering a copy, it might be a good idea to pick up at least one extra just in case.

For readers in and around the Triangle, this weekend marks the long anticipated tribute concert to Captain Luke at the Carrboro ArtsCenter, “Two-Ten and a Quarter: Music Maker Relief Foundation presents a tribute to Captain Luke with Cool John Ferguson, Sol Creech, Bubba Norwood, John Dee Holeman & More!” The show is this Friday, November 6th and starts at 8pm. Tickets are $12 in advance, and $15 day of the show (get them here!) Just by looking at the lineup, I can tell you right now this is definitely not a show you want to miss.




A Trip to Visit Appalachian Musicians


While we were driving to western Virginia to meet Spencer Branch, new next Next Generation Artists, members of the band, Martha Spencer and Kelley Breiding, were texting us pictures of possible locations to record a video. Each photograph was more breath-taking then the next: scenes of rolling hills blanketed with autumn foliage, a red barn nestled between patches of farmland, weathered stone walls in an expansive park.

When we pulled in to their driveway I was in awe; gawking at the gorgeous Appalachian scenery all around. Martha, Kelley, and Kilby Spencer emerged to greet us. Immediately, we started getting set up for filming and photographs, while the band warmed up. My initial awe of the landscape was quickly eclipsed when Martha, Kelley, and Kilby began playing. I had listened to their album (to be released after the new year) a handful of times before, but hearing Kelley and Martha’s harmonies, their intricate guitar and banjo playing, and Kilby’s fiddling in person was nothing short of spectacular.


Diggin:’ Deer Clan Singers – Alligator Dance


A couple of weeks ago I got the chance to work an event in Pembroke at the Givens Performing Arts Center at an event funded by the National Endowment for the Arts. This grant has helped us bring live musical performances to accompany our “We Are the Music Makers!” multimedia exhibit. It was a fantastic show, and it was also a rare opportunity to see the Deer Clan Singers get together and perform. If you’re unfamiliar with their music, Deer Clan Singers are a family of the Tuscarora Nation, led by Dave Locklear, Mark Deese, Pura Fe, Chad Locklear and occasionally joined by other cousins in performance.

Backstage, I asked Pura Fé how long they’d all been singing together and she laughed, saying “I raised these boys, I’ve been singing with them since they were pups!” You can feel this love and their strong family bond that goes back generations. I wanted to write about the song “Alligator Dance” from the album Deers R Us. I love how the song starts with bare bones percussion first, shakers for the most part, and evolves around gradual tempo changes that both speed up and slow down. There’s a lot of call and response between song leader and group, however there’s plenty of cross over where both parties join in together. Those crossing points are where you really feel the energy of everyone really come together. Apparently, the Alligator Dance itself involves alternating men and women rotating in a coil-like counter-clockwise turn around a drum, which is supposed to represent the beginning and continuous flow of life. If you ever get a chance to watch Deer Clan live, do not pass up the opportunity.


Diggin’: Macavine Hayes – Just a Little Bit

Mac-1Macavine Hayes’ “Just a Little Bit,” is my favorite song off of his album Drink House on the Music Maker label. The album title is inspired from his years running a drink house on Claremont Street with Guitar Gabriel. “Just a Little Bit” is so light hearted and playful, I can’t help but imagine what that drink house must have been like. One thing I can be sure of is that with Macavine Hayes there, there was certainly great music. The spirited drums and jumping guitar and piano could coax even the most stoic person to at least tap their foot. Macavine’s husky and persuasive voice could surely get them up and dancing in no time. The song is infectious. I’ve been tapping my desk to the beat all morning. Macavine was inspired by the Jimmy Reed and Chuck Berry; listening to them on the radio during his boyhood in Florida. These influences ring clear in his hopping, joyful style, but his music is markedly his own.

– Abigail Nover


Macavine Hayes – Just a Little Bit

Diggin:’ Little Pink Anderson’s Walk With Me


One of the best parts about working with Music Maker is being able to put faces to songs after meeting artists in person for the first time. I’ve seen Little Pink Anderson perform here and there, and I’m always drawn to the songs he does that stray away from his more traditional blues ballads. The song below, “Walk With Me”, an acapella dedication to Pink’s sister, journeys through a strong vocal build, and finishes with a hymn style resolve. It’s a song from a portion of Pink’s catalog thats a bit more somber than his usual collection, but I think it might be closer to Pink’s own individual journey. You can definitely feel a deep presence on this one.

— Berk


Diggin:’ David Bryant’s Hallelujah


David Bryant is a towering man. He must be 6’ 5”, with arms like braided steel cabling. A more tender and sensitive man you will never meet, however. He lives in Covington, GA in the home where he sat by his mother’s bed and answered her every need in her last years. His mother was Music Maker Silent Strings artist Cora Mae Bryant, a Georgia blues legend. By her side, he learned to sing and play guitar.

Having suffered a debilitating injury in a car accident several years ago, now David spends most of his time at home creating assemblages from found objects, primarily vintage buttons and frames that he describes as homages to his deceased friends and family. His home is a shrine to his ancestors, photos covering every square inch of wall, a small table ceremonially set with fine china, a sequined dress hanging on the wall just above it. Everything has a story, some objects have more than one story. Immediately upon entering his home, one can tell that he is a deeply reflective individual, devoted wholeheartedly to his family and expressions of love.

He is also a man of faith and religious conviction. He draws strength from salvation. A few months ago, he traded some work for a tape recorder and we sent him some blank tapes to get him started. This recording was made on David’s front porch at sunset. Hallelujah indeed.

— Aaron