Music Maker Relief Foundation is a 501(c)3 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.

Diggin’: Cary Morin’s “This Train”

Cary MorinIf James Taylor could play the guitar with the virtuosity and creativity of the celebrated inventor of bossa nova, Gilberto Gil, that amalgam would be exemplified in Cary Morin.

“This Train” shows off Cary’s great talent. His ability to tell a story is remarkable. I asked Cary about the song on a recent phone call. The story is not his own, but his brother’s. His brother had a job up on the Bering Straight. His girlfriend was living far down the coast in Alaska. After the end of a long day on the water walked into his local watering hole to find his girlfriend sitting there. He was very surprised. She told him she couldn’t wait to see him and she took the soonest flight. When he asked how she could afford to make the trip, she told him she financed the journey by selling his Ford Thunderbird. That was when the reunion hopped on the train to nowhere.

 

— Aaron

Women’s History Month at Music Maker

MM_WomensHistory

Women’s History Month is a perfect time to shine a light on the female musicians who have contributed so much to American musical culture, so often without recognition. Those that did make it to the stage and staked a claim there are the names we remember, but so many more female blues musicians of the last century were unheard outside their homes and communities. The stereotypical picture of the blues player is a wandering, itinerant musician, traveling with his guitar, playing his music and spreading the musical styles of the South across the nation. What we don’t realize is that this stereotype is possible because a woman was in the home, caring for his children, working the fields or the factory, and harboring her own musical talents.

 

Check out our profile on Piedmont blues legend Etta Baker

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Music Maker’s Entire Catalog is on Bandcamp!

GGheadphonesMusic Maker is always looking for new ways to give music fans access to our vast catalog. Our catalog features recordings of the many legendary artists we have worked with over the years. Their music is part of the fabric of our society and deserves to be heard. Being a small non-profit that also functions as an independent record label makes it difficult for us to compete with major record labels that have full access to digital distribution.

 

 Check out our Music Maker Bandcamp page here

John Creech – One of Music Makers First Friends

Music Maker lost one of our dearest friends and supporters in February. Denise and I met John Creech when we first moved to Winston-Salem, NC in 1988. We became fast friends, played a great deal of music together, and he introduced us both to Winston-Salem as only a true insider could. John was around in my early days with Guitar Gabriel and became close friends with Gabe, his wife Dorothy and all the other Winston-Salem musicians: Macavine Hayes, Willa Mae Buckner, Mr. Q, Jahue Rorie, Preston Fulp and Captain Luke. John stood in the commodity cheese lines with me and the artists, ventured out in winter storms to deliver kerosene heaters and oil to them. He was a band member of Guitar Gabriel & Brothers in the Kitchen. He traveled with Guitar Gabriel and I on our first tour of Holland. John remained a loyal friend to Denise and I and many Music Maker artists from those days till his passing. John was a Marine who survived three tours of Vietnam, he was a master furniture maker, a poet, a dedicated 12-string guitarist, a gardener, and a painter. He has two sons, Sol and Jonathan Creech, who are both talented musicians. Sol has worked closely with Music Maker since he was a teenager and remains an active, touring musician today. John’s passing is a tremendous loss to his family and friends. To Denise and I, it is like losing a true brother for we could always count on John to help our musical brethren in Winston-Salem during times of great need for he would venture into places we could not ask anyone else to go. He did it all with a smile, bringing his bright light into the darkest corners. We love you John and your spirit with live on forever through all the wonderful music you were instrumental in documenting and sharing with the world.

 

— Tim Duffy

Diggin’: Etta Baker – Police Dog Blues

Etta Baker’s style and grace on guitar is exemplified on Police Dog Blues. The melody bobs along like a leaf floating down the river and then progresses into the most delicate harmonics. The technical depth of her playing on this tune is incredible yet tasteful. This particular version of Police Dog Blues was never released until earlier this year when Music Maker put out Etta’s first and only full length 12′ vinyl album – Railroad Bill 

 

— Corn Lewis

Get Railroad Bill here

Diggin’: Ironing Board Sam – I Wanna Be There


Ironing Board Sam’s latest record, Super Spirit, brimming with energy, twists and turns with every song. “I Wanna Be There” boosts the tension up a few notches with its accelerating rhythm and snappy percussion. This song is the great crescendo on the album before the slow release. The excitement in the track is infectious. Sam’s vocals are highlighted, showcasing how exceptional his expressive and soulful voice truly is. Hearing his voice right out in front, puts his keyboard work in a slightly more subtle position for most of the track. But don’t be fooled, this is Ironing Board Sam we’re talking about and he plays an electrifying solo that’s sure to give you a jolt of energy. You can hear his captivating showmanship in every note of this high-octane song.

 

— Abigail

Ironing Board Sam Will Prevail!

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We are sharing this story at the request of Ironing Board Sam

The past few months have been especially challenging for our partner artist, Ironing Board Sam. In October, just days before his album Super Spirit was released on Big Legal Mess Records, Sam suffered a stroke. Music Maker was by his side to help him through the evaluation process and in finding the help he needed. Now Sam has requested that we update his family of Music Maker fans and supporters.

Until Sam is able to perform again, his tour is on hold and Music Maker will continue to support Sam through the Musician Sustenance Program. He is now in the care of his daughter in Alabama and he asked that we pass along to our friends and supporters that he is recovering well and had these encouraging words to share with his Music Maker family:

“A stroke ain’t no joke, and with Music Maker, I won’t go broke.”

– Ironing Board Sam

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Diggin’: Sam Frazier, Jr. – Mama Said She Ain’t Here

As a new member of the Music Maker family, it’s been such a treat to experience all the music that has been coming my way these past few weeks. Listening to Sam Frazier Jr.’s recently released “Take Me Back” album absolutely sent me back to some familiar sounds and beats from my childhood in the 70’s.

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Bobby McMillon, an Appalachian Ballad Singer

BobbyMcMillon_webRecently Music Maker started working with Bobby McMillon who has been suffering from serious health issues and has not been able to work. Music Maker has helped him with some heating bills and looks forward to learning how we can help Bobby more.

Robert Lynn “BobbyMcMillon, a North Carolina Folk Heritage Award recipient, was heir to numerous strands of Appalachian culture. From his father’s family in Cocke County, Tennessee, he learned Primitive Baptist hymns and traditional stories and ballads. From his mother’s people in Yancy and Mitchell Counties, North Carolina, he heard “booger tales, haint tales,” and legends about the murder of a relative named Charlie Silver. In Caldwell County, he went to school with relatives of Tom Dula, learned their family stories, and heard ballads, gospel songs, and Carter family recordings. “The real storytelling,” Bobby says, “was so intertwined that a bear tale or a fish tale or a witch tale or a tale of some history that had really happened—a family tale—they were all equally believable.”
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Birmingham Bluesman Finds a Friend with Music Maker

cover copy

Sam Frazier, Jr.’s album Take Me Back is finally in print after 20+ years hiding in the storage of a Birmingham music enthusiast. The album and its release herald a new period in Sam’s life. Two years ago when Sam’s daughter-in-law reached out to Music Maker, it had been some years since Sam’s musical heyday. He was living back home in Edgewater, Alabama in the coalmining shack he grew up in, with the walls falling in around him. He had lost many of his old connections and wasn’t sure which way to turn to get his music back on track. His housing problem weighed on him heavily and he was also dealing with health issues that put his music goals on the back-burner.

Buy Sam Frazier, Jr. – Take Me Back Here

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Alabama Slim & Big Ron Hunter Tour France!

BigRonAlSlim

Alabama Slim and Big Ron Hunter both have years of performing under their belts. Like Music Maker’s forefather Guitar Gabriel once said, “I’ve played so much guitar, it’d make your ass hurt.” They both squarely fall into this category. But, playing that much guitar, even being a genius entertainer doesn’t guarantee recognition or financial success. There are a lot of reasons; for many, their opportunities were simply limited, there were no talent scouts where they performed, there were no funding sources with which they could pursue their talents, there was no access to the kind of audience that could support them. They had to find work to feed and clothe their families and their talent took a back seat.

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Diggin’: Drink Small’s “Living In A BBQ World”

Drink

When Drink Small first released this wonderful, upbeat track, we definitely wrote a Diggin’ about it. I can’t find it, however, and I wanted to share this song again with you all because it’s definitely the track I’m playing as the weather gets nicer and we venture outside into the sunshine. Drink is a blues legend who lost his eyesight several years ago; Music Maker continues to assist him with meeting day to day needs, and we will never stop sharing his incredible music.

If you don’t know much about Drink Small you should check out his Artist Page on our website here – or this wonderful blog post Tim wrote.

Enjoy this jaunty tune and Happy Spring!

— Corinne

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