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Album Review: Rory Block - "I Belong to the Band: A Tribute to Rev. Gary Davis"

June 8, 2012
I Belong to the Band: A Tribute to Rev. Gary Davis
Rory Block
Stony Plain Records


I Belong to the Band is the fourth CD in Rory Block’s “Mentor Series” of recordings, in which she pays tribute to great blues guitarists that she studied in her youth. The previous tribute recordings were to Son House, Mississippi Fred McDowell, and Robert Johnson.

Block’s legion of fans will surely find this a fascinating and exciting departure. Prior to recording this disc, Block asked Stefan Grossman and David Bromberg for some lessons in the good Reverend’s brilliant and peculiar style, which is very different from her own style, even though Davis was a huge influence on her both musically and personally. Playing 12-string throughout the CD, she proves herself a powerful, pile-driving rhythm guitarist, laying a solid foundation for some multitracked supporting fills and solos. Block has also multitracked vocals, and between the guitar fills and the choir of Rorys, there are moments that almost seem a little cluttered.

Speaking of vocals, Block has some vocal eccentricities that some listeners may find off-putting. A lifetime of study and practice of some of the purest blues available has given her a ferocious edge, which can be nothing short of overwhelming, and she doesn’t hold anything back here. This is a powerful piece of work, but it may not be for the fainthearted.— Gayla Drake

Must-hear track: “I am the Light of This World”