CD's & Latest Releases
The New Series
POWER WOMEN OF THE BLUES
All photos in these series by Sergio Kurhajec
A Woman's Soul- A Tribute To Bessie Smith - is the first in this series. The second in the series is now recorded, release date TBA. Very excited!!
A Womans Soul
A Tribute To Bessie Smith
... all Grammy voters within the view of my words ought to make a point of moving down the ballot to the blues category this year and giving Block the sugar that belongs in her bowl. Killer stuff. The mantle has been passed to the new empress of the blues.
Chris Spector - Midwest Record - Chicago
... on this acoustic masterpiece, Block does everything herself... All this proves that Block, like Smith, is an important "Power Woman of the Blues". She is a strong contender for the most influential acoustic artist of our time.
Making A Scene
Rory Block is an interpreter par excellence... she has an uncanny ability to capture the essence of the original while letting her own artistry shine through. Her voice comes with its own, instantly identifiable survivor's rasp, and her guitar work is equally stunning. There is no doubt that someday there will be many a tribute album to the great Rory Block.
... ten gorgeous performances in settings that shine new light on Bessie's songs... a remarkable tribute to Bessie Smith.
John Valenteyn - Toronto Blues Society
THE MENTOR SERIES
The Mentor Series consists of 6 tribute recordings dedicated entirely to the rediscovered blues masters I met in person as a teenager. Each one of these legendary players imparted a treasure trove of first-hand information to me, resulting in a life-long deep well of inspiration. This project is my way of saying thank you to Son House, Fred McDowell, Reverend Gary Davis, Mississippi John Hurt, Skip James, and Bukka White- some of the all-time greatest and most influential names in early blues. Growing up in Greenwich Village during the acoustic music revival of the 1960's put me in the right place at the right time to meet these great artists. Today that time seems ever more precious and fleeting. It is my goal to give credit to those who created the music, and to help keep their names vivid and alive in our collective consciousness.
Keepin' Outta Trouble
A Tribute to Bukka White
Aurora shines brightly on the sixth in the series of her tributes to the blues masters... She's at the top of her game here. Killer stuff.
Chris Spector - Midwest Record - Chicago, IL
The sixth and latest installment is Rory's stellar "Mentor" series... this could be the best of them all... breathtaking series... Passionate performances... excellent liner essay... Rory Block's Keepin' Outta Trouble a must-have for country blues fans...
The Rock Doctor - Canada
"Indisputably, Rory Block is one of the most impressive contemporary blues artists. Rooted so deeply in country blues traditions, Block can't be anything but authentic... An exciting album from start to finish... Block enlivens these performances with a balance of passion and precision... Her voice is magic, and her approach to blues guitar is clean, restrained, and just damn fine beautiful. Keepin' Outta Trouble: A Tribute to Bukka White is an excellent album."
Donald Teplyske - Fervor Coulee
"Keepin' Outta Trouble unfolds as a piercing one-act play distilling the bluesman's oft-harrowing biography into a series of indelible, penetrating scenes. The unembellished sonics enhance the intensity of Block's performances while underscoring the raw power of White's lyrics. In conception and execution, Keepin' Outta Trouble: A Tribute to Bukka White succeeds as a heartfelt remembrance on Rory Block's part, whose guitar playing is as assured as ever but whose vocals are coming from an even deeper place than those we've heard on her other albums and as a daring conceptual approach rarely heard in the blues world."
Davis McGee - Deep Roots Magazine
Hard Luck Child
A Tribute to Skip James
"Rory Block has won many awards and accolades from the blues community over the last few decades; her Mentor Series makes it plain to see why. She is both master and student of the country blues genre. As she says in her liner notes, "While the rest of the world was busy with modern things, I wandered down the dusty path towards the past in bare feet." A truer portrait of Block's music could not be painted... On each of the Mentor Series albums, strains of country, blues, and gospel come through Block's fingers, guitar, and voice as if she'd been selected by the blues Gods themselves to preserve and protect a disappearing tradition. What Block does here is not new, but it is masterful. She knows the terrain; she is fluent in the language."
"The fave sexy senior of any blues fan with a pulse turns the clock back 50 years once again for another tribute to the blues masters she spent actual time with back in the 60s when she was a wild child on the run soaking it all up. Certainly another awarding winning date from Block, this rollicks with the spirit of her honoree Skip James like it's all happening real time right now. One of five of the best lessons you could get in the history of traditional blues, Block is the best teacher there is. Killer stuff that doesn't quit coming, this lone girl and her guitar underscore the meaning of less is more better than Mies Van de Rohe ever could. Hot stuff throughout."
CHRIS SPECTOR - MIDWEST RECORD, CHICAGO, IL
"Rory Block is simply one of the finest living interpreters of vintage acoustic blues, a guitarist who understands both the technique and the spirit of the great country blues artists of the '20s and '30s... Block's guitar work on this album is typically splendid... engineer Rob Davis does excellent work here giving Block's guitar and vocals an intimate presence that suggests an updated, hi-fidelity version of James' 78s for Paramount."
A Tribute to Mississippi John Hurt
"This is the fourth in her Mentor Series... Were this all she had ever done, her place in Blues history would be secured forever... No one, short of the masters themselves has ever played this music with the power and passion that Rory Block plays... Avalon is a modern masterpiece."
BILL WILSON - REFLECTIONS IN BLUE
"... yet another masterclass from a lady who deserves to be called 'the first lady of the blues'.
MICK RAINSFORD - BLUES IN BRITAIN
"Another in the continuing line of masterpieces from Rory Block... The strongest contender, by far, for Best Blues Tribute Album 2013... "
JOHN VERMILYEA - Blues Underground Network
"... one of the finest guitarists of her era... Block's guitar work is, as always, phenomenal..."
Friday Blues Fix
"... Among the names Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith and Sippie Wallace, Rory Block stands among the great women of the blues."
BILL HURLEY - The Alternate Root Magazine
"Rory Block is one of America's greatest treasures..."
ADRIAN BLACKLEE - BLUES MATTERS
"... a modern masterwork... she has succeeded brilliantly... Avalon is flawless, alive, full of joy and passion..."
BARRY KERZNER - American Blues Scene
I Belong To The Band
A Tribute to Reverend Gary Davis
"... liberating and exhilarating... nothing short of triumphant... she touches the guitar (and the songs themselves) with the carefree confidence of a modern-day master."
GREG VICTOR - Parcbench.com
"... uniformly top-notch... unsparingly hard-edged in its engagement with Christian celebration and blues despair. The two are fused uneasily, and to chilling effect... Block cuts deep and rises high."
"... 100% on the mark... As far as I'm concerned, this is the pinacle of the woman's career... It may be that Rory Block has redefined what it means to pay proper tribute to the elder masters... hauntingly accurate, soul deep, and moving... the bar has been raised significantly..."
MARK S. TUCKER - FAME
"...considered to be the foremost female authority on playing pre-WWII country blues... unbridled passion and emotion... I Belong To The Band is one of her crowning achievements!"
SHERYL & DON CROW - NASHVILLE BLUES SOCIETY
Rory Block is one of the finest guitarists in the world, bar none... This CD is a beautiful piece, immaculately played and delivered with power, authority and a love that is obvious from beginning to end... This is gospel at its finest... A masterful guitarist and superb vocalist… a level of passion seldom captured on a recording...
BILL WILSON - BILLTOWN BLUES SOCIETY
"A real triumph... If contemporary acoustic country blues guitar picking is your thing you gotta hear this disc, it comes with a big thumbs up from me."
PHIL WIGHT - Blues & Rhythm magazine (UK)
Shake 'Em On Down
A Tribute to Mississippi Fred McDowell
"It’s simply a killer by a player at the top of her game. Hot stuff throughout."
CHRIS SPECTOR - Midwest Record - Chicago, IL
“The name Rory Block is synonymous with the word legend in the world of blues... She’s revered for her talents, she’s critically acclaimed...”
“... yet another brilliant release from Rory Block, one that pays tribute to a Legendary Artist by an Artist who is certainly heading in the direction of legendary status, herself.”
JOHN VERMILYEA - Blues Underground Network
“Block has incredible vocal range... she digs down to the depth of her soul... she conveys so much emotion that you can believe she not only understands what the originators felt, but she’s experienced the same feelings.”
JEFF JOHNSON - Chicago Sun-Times
“Shake 'Em On Down is sexy and salacious... Block spits out the lyrics with a passion... driving guitar groove... another fine addition to Block's growing catalog of tribute discs."
MARK SMITH - Bluesource.com
"... This is a woman who continues to amaze. She has won many awards and I expect her to win more with this excellent offering."
JERRY W. HENRY - Tannehill Trader Monthly - Birmingham, AL
Blues Walkin' Like A Man
A Tribute to Son House
"... as feisty, fierce and compelling as the masters she honors and interprets... Haunted and hallowed, Block's performance is nerve raw throughout, cutting vocally and instrumentally through the years, into your soul."
Mike Jurkovic - The Folk and Acoustic Music Exchange
"... truly haunting... as deep and personal as authentic blues gets... extreme passion and depth... A most highly recommended recording..."
Michael G. Nastos - All Music Guide (allmusic.com)
"... The tension between Block's searing guitar work and the pain in her voice is so palpable you can only echo the query made by Son himself after he first heard her perform: "Where did she learn to play like this?'... Close to the earth and close to the heart, that's Blues Walkin' Like A Man, yes indeed."
David McGee - The Bluegrass Special
"...Rory Block interprets 13 of Son House's most powerful blues songs... imbuing them with the visceral quality of the master, himself, channeling that energy through both her vocals and searing guitar playing."
“... Block’s one of the finest acoustic blues performers going... She’s also a first-class guitar player and treats this stuff as fire and brimstone, Old Testament tablets, not to be trifled with.”
Bob Mersereau - Telagraph Journal
"... powerful... fiery... Blues Walkin' Like A Man is a loving tribute by Rory Block... If there's justice in the world, not only will this disc reap benefits for Ms. Block, but it will also turn on a new generation of blues fans to one of the most powerful and influential blues guitarists ever."
Graham Clarke - Blues Bytes
"... The album brims with tasty slide playing and thumping strumming, but Block's ability to vocally channel the haunting origins of this music is as moving as her guitar work."
Shawn Hammond - Guitar Player Magazine
"... passionate guitar playing... vocals that have been described as "otherwordly"... she is pure Americana, purveying our nation's roots music with an uncompromising passion matched by few others."
Fred Adams - An Honest Tune (anhonesttune.com)
“... a stunning new release from blues traditionalist Rory Block... amazing guitar licks and emotive, wrenching vocals...
Jim Hynes - Elmore
“... otherworldly... downright sexy... posessed by that same indescribable spirit of the original Delta bluesmen... Today Rory is certainly regarded as the foremost interpreter of traditional country blues... an absolutely mesmerizing tribute.”
Jim Hynes - ADC Media Guide
“...Rory Block represents blues royalty... One of the most skilled acoustic guitarists in any musical genre... vision... inspiration... a scholar’s knowledge and a poet’s approach...
Rev. Kieth A. Gordon - AboutBlues.com
“... With this tribute, Block has unlocked the very essence of the blues.”
Michael Verity - Blues Revue
“... beautiful... harrowing... I have Son House’s “Death Letter” album (1965) on vinyl, and ‘Blues Walkin’ Like A Man’ gives the same feeling of being surrounded by uneasy ghosts... you’ll love this album... ‘Blues Walkin’ Like A Man’ is THE blues album of ‘08.”
John Kereif - rosslandradio.com Rossland, BC
"... spine-tingling... Rory Block more than honors Son House's memory: she sets the standard for acoustic blues tribute records."
Eric Steiner - Washington State Blues Society
"...what might surely be one of the highest notes of her brilliant career... immense knowledge and expertise of the Acoustic Guitar... a voice that can rival any of her peers... You will truly not see it done much better than the way Rory Block plays it."
John Vermilyea - Blues Underground Network
"...a force to be reckoned with... She has become one of the world's most recognized female guitarists, musicians, and interpreters of Delta Blues... There is no one on the planet who could top the originals, period... "
Ben Cox - Juke Joint Soul
"... the feeling is of being in a Baptist church... a graveyard mojo of Block standing at the crossroads wearing a long black veil... Rory can sing gospel with the best of them... if you are looking for a time portal to go back into the era of levee camps and field hollers, where true acoustic blues predated electricity, Rory Block can take you there."
Gary Weeks - Illinois Blues Society (IllinoisBlues.com)
"... a collection of interpretations that highlight the brilliance of both the teacher and the student... channeling Bessie Smith at midnight, Block doesn't so much as sing as impart eerie invocation..."
Buzz McClain - NO DEPRESSION
“Rory Block’s tribute to the blues pioneer Son House reflects an intimate and savvy awareness of her tie to a blues genius. Rather than merely paying homage to her mentor, Block performs 13 of her teacher’s songs imbued with her own brand of slashing slide guitar virtuosity and fiery vocal pyrotechnics.”
THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR
"Rory Block's life-long involvement with the blues has reached a new high point with this release."
System Records (systemrecords.co.uk)
"Rory Block, long one of the finest contemporary interpreters of traditional Delta blues, devotes this intense and compelling CD to the songs of Son House..."
Mike Regenstreif - Montreal Gazette
"Block has quietly been making some of the best music of her career the past few years."
VILLAGE RECORDS (www.villagerecords.com)
“... Rory Block is a brilliant, talented musician whose vocals and guitar prowess are perfectly suited to bring Son House's music to a wider audience. Do yourself a favor and check out "Blues Walkin' Like A Man" today!!
Sheryl and Don Crow - Music City Blues Society
"Technically flawless... a time capsule of Son House and his music..."
Turbula Music (turbula.net)
"A 1965 meeting between House and the 15-year old guitar prodigy set Block rambling down the blues highway, a trip that has brought the artist international recognition and five Blues Music Awards..."
Rev. Keith A. Gordon - AboutBlues.com
"Traditionally minded modern-day blues empress..."
Elderly Instruments (www.elderly.com)
... Her voice is so evocative of these songs it's easy to imagine the woman as one of the second-generation originators. These are sensuous stripped-down creations, with Block playing all the instruments, which include hat boxes, plastic storage bins, wooden spoons and whatever else gets the job done... It's one musician and their deep blues, with the courage to express every feeling there is.
After a series of stunning tributes to bluesmen that she's encountered in her life, Rory launches her new "power women of the blues" series with this magnificent tribute to Bessie Smith...
The Rock Doctor- Canada
Rory Block now turns her massive talents toward the distaff side with the first of her series entitled "Power Women Of The Blues," with "A Woman's Soul: A Tribute To Bessie Smith". The whole thing is a stone gas from start to finish, likely as Bessie would have wanted. Rory Block has captured the soul and essence of one of the pioneer women of the blues
Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society
This is how I like my blues. Entirely acoustic with multi-tracked accompaniment... gorgeous, masterful guitar playing... fervent passion... relaxed but riveting, powerful performances... Block's execution is stellar... Block plums the emotional depths of these songs so effectively they sound inspirational...
Fervor Coulee - wordpress.com
One of the greatest contemporary acoustic blues artists, guitarist-vocalist Rory Block has paid tribute to many greats... Having her fashion an homage to a female legend- Bessie Smith, "The Empress of The Blues'- was a natural move for Block... Her vibrant vocals do justice to the legend, injecting ample fire, soul and grit into each performance. Block delivers all the spice... she's seductive and sassy... Block's slide guitar throughout is just as impressive as her voice... The artist, a five-time Blues Music Award winner, honors tradition and builds upon it.
Pop Culture Classics - Paul Freeman
Fans of early Blues music are in for a rare treat, with Rory Block- A Woman's Soul- A Tribute To Bessie Smith. For this 10-track release, it's all Rory Block, with no outside distractions and the result is something wonderful.
Pop Culture Classics - Paul Freeman
Rory Block has immersed herself in the blues for literally her entire adult life and part of her teenage years as well. Her five decade career, her prowess as a guitarist/vocalist, and her respect for the history and traditions of the blues have propelled her to the forefront of the American blues pantheon... Rory does not try to imitate Smith but rather updates her music... The songs survive in a different form and format and while they are lodged in the past, they remain powerful... It is a wonderful call from the past that should not go unheeded.
David Bowling - CASHBOX
Smith's provocative and bawdy lyrics find new life in Blockís lilting raspy voice, drenched in sass and soul. Block's acoustic arrangements and peerless chops are the perfect combo and deliver a stellar recording... A Woman's Soul sizzles, shakes and satisfies with the passion and conviction that only acoustic blues can evoke... clarity of tone and superlative slide... Every performance is a gem here... she is truly an artist at the zenith of her musical talents in full control of her vision and direction.
James Filkins - Minor 7th
...Block is finally able to realize her creative dream and record this historic material with her own soulful, deeply respectful stamp and acoustic musical skill... She has devised a brilliant, ten-track program of Smith's more familiar work, interspersed with rarely performed gems. Up first is a sassy take on Do Your Duty, featuring some excellent guitar work by Block, as well as her husky, sexy, powerful pipes... On every track, the authentic blues feel, the intricate guitar and percussion work... and Block's multi-textured and irresistible vocal chops, deliver it all. No doubt, Miss Bessie Smith would be proud!
Lesley Mitchell-Clarke - The Whole Note
"... a modern master in her own right, it simply doesn't get much better."
JOHN TAYLOR - BLINDED BY SOUND
"... her playing is sublime... Rory Block's recordings are stuff of a particular kind of brilliance."
"To say I love this album would be an understatement... Avalon is a deep and intimate blues experience that I can not recommend highly enough."
Uncle John's Record Barn - GONZO ONLINE
“... sass and soul... Killer stuff..."
CHRIS SPECTOR - Midwest Record - Chicago, IL
"Her exquisite finger-picking skills are on full display..."
SHERYL AND DON CROW - donandsherylsbluesblog
“This is my favorite of the 4 releases and I'm sure that Block will be rewarded for her faithful efforts."
Bman's Blues Report