Virginia Piedmont Blues: The Lives and Art of Two Virginia Bluesmen

Virginia Piedmont Blues: The Lives and Art of Two Virginia Bluesmen

Virginia Piedmont Blues: The Lives and Art of Two Virginia Bluesmen

Virginia Piedmont Blues: The Lives and Art of Two Virginia Bluesmen

Synopsis

Documents the journey of two black American bluesmen, Archie Edwards and John Cephas, as they carry their musical heritage to the world.

Excerpt

Union Hall lies nestled in what Archie Edwards calls the flatlands of the Blue Ridge, five miles outside Rocky Mount, the county seat of Franklin County, Virginia. Traveling east on Route 5 from Rocky Mount, I could have easily missed Union Hall if I hadn't noticed a weather-beaten sign, almost lost among the weeds, advertising Clayton's Service Station. The station itself was long gone, but I remembered Archie telling me that fifty years ago he saw two of the Piedmont's greatest blues musicians, Blind Boy Fuller and Sonny Terry, stop and play a song at Clayton's in exchange for a pint of white whiskey. I stopped at the nearby country store and asked about the Edwards family. Sure, the shopkeeper knew them. Archie's father, Roy Edwards, used to own a farm a half mile up the dirt road in back of the store, and Willie Edwards, Archie's brother, lives up the hill past the Union Hall grocery. Archie himself, they told me, had been down to visit just a week ago.

Following their directions, I drove out to Willie Edwards's house and found him working on a tractor mower. We talked for a while, and he told me that the old family home had burned down some years back and that he used to be quite a musician himself when he was younger. I asked if I could get a picture of his old log barn, but he preferred a shot of himself in front of his nice brick home.

As I started back to Washington, D.C., I remembered a verse from one of Archie's autobiographical blues compositions:

I walked to my automobile
Man, I headed back to town
I had two hundred and fifty miles to drive
I told my baby I'd make it home before the sun went down.

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