I am an unabashed fan of Cephas & Wiggins, who bring a modern take on traditional folk blues. In interviews, they’re gentlemen, who love telling their stories and giving thoughtful takes on where blues has come from, where it’s going, and what they’re doing.
Guitarist John Cephas is 78, while harmonica player Phil Wiggins is nearly a quarter-century his junior. They met at a D.C. festival in 1977, and record for Alligator Records. In the three decades they’ve recorded their brand of Piedmont folk blues, they’ve slowly, quietly built a fan following who might not know of all the traditions from which they draw–but they know talented musicians playing good music when they hear it. For the record, they go wa-a-a-y back in the blues canon, styling their tuneage after ancient greats like Blind Boy Fuller, Reverend Gary Davis, and Blind Willie McTell.
You gotta decide whether their sound’s up your alley, but a great sample with which to start is “Sounds of the Blues,” which elegantly uses onomatopoeia to describe the last chapter of what seems to be a long relationship. But we’ll never know, because these guys do what the best songwriters do: Leave enough to the imagination to make the listening a very personal experience.