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Positively 4th Street

... if anybody can perform miracles, it's Rory Block  

Let It Rock 

... Absolutely outstanding! online magazine

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CD Booklet & Liner Notes
  CD Booklet, Liner Notes & Graphics 
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In the cover photo, taken in the late 1960's, I am seated in the window of the Allan Block Sandal Shop, 171 West 4th Street. The reflection in the glass is a reverse image of Jones Street, where the photo of the Freewheelin' Bob Dylan album was taken. Celebrated folk and rock photographer David Gahr is faintly visible on the lower right, along with multiple other historical street and building identifiers, including an Avis truck.
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photo: David Gahr - Estate of David Gahr

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photo: Sergio Kurhajec

Expanded Liner Notes
Expanded Liner Notes - Journalist Resources


In March of 2020 we took a leap into the great unknown, and began broadcasting 90 minute shows every week from home. This unexpected journey has lasted over 4 years, and led to countless informal forays into a broad range of material by numerous artists current and past. Probably the most persistent and enthusiastic requests from viewers for anything outside of the blues genre has been the repeated calls to record a Bob Dylan tribute. But how would I, an artist associated almost entirely with blues for over 30 releases, suddenly switch to recording songs by one of the greatest songwriters who ever lived? Thinking wouldn’t help. It had to start, simply put, by plugging in the mics and pressing record. It’s always a mystery...

As it happens I grew up in Greenwich Village and was a teenager when Bob Dylan’s songs were becoming huge hits. We didn’t think it unusual to spot John Lennon, Jimi Hendrix, or Bob Dylan walking down west 4th street at a time when the area was overflowing with musicians of every description and level of fame. My father’s place of business, The Allan Block Sandal shop, was a centrally located and well known hub for local musicians, and west 4th street, where it intersected the one block long street called Jones street, became the center of my universe. By the time I was in my 20’s, Dylan was one of the most famous names in the music business.

It was during the 1960’s that I walked into Dad's sandal shop and saw an artistic looking man sitting and talking with my father. I was aware of who he was, a musician and local resident- but I was raised to respect peoples’ privacy and not fawn over anyone, known or unknown. It was just part of the general musical atmosphere that characterized the place and time.


The following is excerpted from my autobiography When A Woman Gets The Blues:


"I remember the hat, and the youthful face. He was not yet famous, so at that point he was among the many interesting people stopping by. He may have recently been signed to a label, but I don’t think his first album had come out yet. When I walked in he was sitting there talking to my dad, and I remember thinking that he had a very unique, artistic presence. After he left Dad told me something about the conversation. He said that Bob was a poet first and foremost who really didn’t care for the ‘business' side of things. His priorities lay in being true to his art. Right away I resonated with the message. I understood it to mean that Dylan had integrity that he would not compromise. I also understood from this that it was OK to buck the system, to reject the shiny, glossy world of business in exchange for artistic honesty, a lesson which stood me in good stead many times over the years. It was an inspiration and the way I was raised to feel about music. People like Bob Dylan served to reinforce this important, grounding piece of information."

Choosing the Material:

As with all my recordings, the songs that move me the most deeply, touching heart and soul, are the ones I choose to record. This is always based on songs that leap up and cry out to me. It has everything to do with the message, the melody, and the energy in the song- and luckily, there is never a shortage of incredible songs to choose from.


1. Everything Is Broken

After the album was completed, having reached over 50 minutes in length, Holger Petersen of Stony Plain Records pointed out the wisdom of adding a straight-out blues song to round things out. I chose Everything Is Broken, which turned out to be just the fresh touch we needed. After that I felt ready to release the record into the vibrating world of sound waves that last and travel forever in outer space. Quite possibly some day, a million years from now, Everything Is Broken will be captured in another galaxy where someone may find it to still be relevant. When you think of it, the laws of entropy and thermo dynamics will always cause everything we know and love to break down, malfunction, or otherwise need repairs. That’s why this song is so relatable. It's also very funny, which made it a blast to record. Everything in the outro is true angst from my life.

The guitar: My method is to establish a tempo, then put down a click track, which I usually play by hand. This gives the track a little bit of an organic feel. Then I play a root part, often overdubbing a second layer in a different tuning (country blues style). From there I add bass parts, any other layers, and if the track calls out for drums, I create a program, usually hand placed, measure by measure. Last, I play slide. That’s the most exciting part of the process for me. I get to step out, soar around, and test my mettle. Sometimes a track calls for simplicity, other times it wants to be full speed ahead. Everything is broken needed a full throttle approach.

2. Ring Them Bells

Ring Them Bells was the first song I recorded on this project. I chose it because I loved the powerful lyrics, the gospel theme, and the melody. But despite being the first, it was the last to be completed, even receiving adjustments after we added Everything Is Broken- but that’s a long and winding tale for another time. Finally, by some miracle, Ring Them Bells came together, and now when I hear it I feel like it’s right where I needed it to be.

The guitar: This track was illusive from the first session until after the project was supposedly finished. We kept revisiting it because one element or another would invariably present problems. It was recorded live with guitar and vocal together, old style, with no click track for tempo reference. This created no end of headaches when adding additional layers, as nothing locked in, tempo or tuning. The problem was made worse because I had tuned the guitar well below pitch for the sake of the vocal- but the strings were so loose that the root guitar always sounded out of tune. I added overdub after overdub to cover the original, but it was always clearly audible on the vocal track. At the last minute, after adding at least two different tracks in the bass range, it seemed to find the proper balance, and the dissonance faded into the background.

Then there was the tempo challenge. You can hear the track speeding up slightly at the bridge, and then it rushes into the drum parts, but in the end it just seemed to add urgency and excitement. There really is no solo part on the song, though slide is used to bolster and strengthen in the background.

3. Like A Rolling Stone

Possibly my favorite and most evocative Dylan song, this one just rolled out as if it was playing itself. It’s often when I don’t think I can do something that it comes out the best. If only I could explain how every brick I ever walked on in Greenwich Village cried out with this iconic song. The song is epic, life changing, and forever imprinted in the story of my consciousness.

The guitar: The guitar parts (and vocal), were all “take 1,” and they harmonized together as if they had been written out in a chart. The effect of this seemed to land somewhere between the acoustic roots of the song and Dylan’s later evolution into electric. The original drum parts were so amazing that I tried to follow the pattern as closely as I could because the drum really leads the song, section by section. Then there are the astounding words- intriguingly honest, sometimes painful, can’t-look-away kind of words.

4. Not Dark Yet

This song is a sermon. Not figuratively, but literally. This is another gorgeous Dylan song that releases a mysterious power into the cosmos. I couldn’t believe the meaning that jumped out of every word. “It’s not dark yet.... but it’s gettin’ there.” Make of it what you will.

The guitar: With slide, there’s a whole different feel between rocking out, and the poignant, lingering notes of a ballad. Then it’s all about tone, and less is more. Once again these guitar parts unfolded on auto-pilot and were right where they needed to be on the first take. Sometimes I listen to a recording and wonder who played it and how it came into being, as if I wasn’t there. I comfort myself thinking my first effort is just a guide- a demo, something we can fix later- but honestly, we almost always stay with the original. Later Cindy Cashdollar played a solo on her Weissenborn baritone guitar, and when we listened back to both of our solos at once, they wove together perfectly and formed harmonies in an amazing way.

5. Mr. Tambourine Man

This was the iconic ballad of the times, taking me back to everything I can point to and recognize about the place where I grew up. In my book "When A Woman Get The Blues” I have a chapter called “The Piebald Man.” We all saw this character tripping the light fandango down the Village streets. If he wasn’t the Tambourine Man I don’t know who was.

The guitar: After trying several different directions for the guitar part on this track, ultimately I decided that the only thing that would work was the driving strumming of the original Dylan track. It was surprisingly difficult to hold it together while repeatedly drilling down with a flat pick. For one thing it invariably flew out of my hand. I gained a whole new level of respect for the strong rhythm guitar played by Dylan on these masterful early songs. Sometimes the simplest sound is the hardest to achieve, something my dad often told me, along with “It’s harder to play slow than to play fast.”

6. Positively 4th Street

This is another all-out killer song from the Dylan catalog. Up there with Like A Rolling Stone, the painfully honest, biting, gritty words paint a personal picture of post-relationship dynamics we can probably all relate to. Bob always gets to the heart of the matter, and says it better than anyone else could- all without apology. Whoa baby, “You gotta lotta nerve to say you are my friend...” In my view this kind of boldness is incredibly refreshing.

The guitar: I tried a number of different approaches, but nothing hit the nail on the head. It took a lot of experimenting to find something that didn’t sound all-out weak. For some reason my version kept seeming painfully slow, even though we had matched the tempo to Dylan’s version, which never sounded slow at all. Crazy stuff. So this meant I needed to add some energy. The original track had those incredibly iconic organ riffs played by Al Kooper, that drove the original in such a spooky and recognizable way. Eventually I put parts in the open spaces that gave a nod to some of Kooper's lines, and that enlivened things. Of course the slide came last, and at that point I had an out of body experience. I think I could have gotten a lot more edgy and sarcastic with the vocal, but Rob kept liking what was happening, so I left it alone.

7. A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall

Part of why Dylan became so famous and beloved must be the way he hit every nail on the head with a precise blow, speaking “Truth To Power,” and bringing a

sense of hope to the hopeless- those who watch governments running amok in complete opposition to the needs of the people. What has become of “Government of the people, by the people and for the people”? Dylan explains it in characteristically vivid terms, as relevant today as the day it was written.

The guitar: Ultimately I chose the same steady strumming approach I used with Tambourine Man, laying down a traditional flat picked sound for the foundation. After this I wanted something to add variety, so I tuned the guitar below pitch to a wild open tuning and just started playing arpeggios. We loved where it went, just had to find the right place in the mix to keep all the elements separate and not step on the vocal.

8. Mother Of Muses

I had never heard this one before, but discovered it among the tracks on Rough and Rowdy Ways. The song seems to be part jazz, part classic ballad, but also partly crafted out of some entirely new basic element- not hydrogen, helium, oxygen or iron, not copper, gold, aluminum or uranium, but something entirely new, quite possibly from a different dimension. Scientists confirm that there are parallel dimensions, ones we cannot see- so this is not just a figment of an overactive imagination, but a mathematical likelihood.

The guitar: This song was yet another one where the guitar part landed in the right place immediately. Experimenting as usual, we played take 1 and take 2 back together with no expectations- they harmonized and sounded like an old-time music box. This is why the outro is so long- because I just couldn’t let go of the intertwining melodies, and it allowed me to relax and fly free in a higher vocal register, something I learned from singing gospel.

9. Murder Most Foul

I don’t think there is much I can say that will add to the shattering honesty of this historic tale. No one other than Bob Dylan could lay out the facts with this much power, without apology, pulling back the curtain on the depth of corruption which exceeds our ability to grasp. I still envision a full length documentary video to go along with this one. Haven’t found the film maker yet, but this song is too important not to pull out the historic footage.

The guitar: I don’t think there is much explanation required on this one either. The guitar needed to be done with the simplest possible approach, unadorned, a support layer beneath the immense weight of the story. From time to time I added a little emphasis for emotional value, but that’s all, until the slide on the way out, where the heart aches, reflecting on the history. Then, radio silence. That’s all I can say. We cry each time, remembering the day.




All photos in these series by Sergio Kurhajec

Rory Block celebrates women of American song with musical perfection in “Ain’t Nobody Worried”

Jim White- Blues Roadhouse

Ain't Nobody Worried

Celebrating Great Women Of Song

“Rory Block remains one of the planet’s premier purveyors of acoustic blues.”

Jimmy Leslie- Frets Editor at Guitar Player

“Contemporary Soul and Blues Songs Stripped Back to Bone and Gristle... Selecting a single Favorite Song is virtually impossible; as this is ‘all killer - no filler’ with not a single dud to be found anywhere... Rory Block’s arrangements here are magnificent...”

The Rocking Magpie- UK

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I’ve seen Rory Block perform many times. I’ve listened to her albums even more. I’ve never ceased to be amazed at her talent... Those few paragraphs above don’t really do justice to this excellent Rory Block album. You know, “words can’t begin to describe,” and all that. The results are impressively imaginative, highly creative and, best of all, thoroughly enjoyable.

Jim White- Blues Roadhouse

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“… an artist at the top of her game... an impassioned take on 11 songs... intense vocal deliveries that approach the level of a primal scream... Love Has No Pride is a mind-altering trip... Etta (James) and Block are sisters of another mother... (Rory Block) shares her emotions garnered from those intense memories on this incredible album”

Don Wilcock

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Seven-time Blues Music Award winner Rory Block makes magic happen just by playing the songs she loves on her new album Ain’t Nobody Worried... Rory Block is the best there is at what she does and Ain’t Nobody Worried is the pure soul medicine so many of us need right now. Spin it once and let your healing begin.

Mike O’Cull- Rock and Blues Muse

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"Rory Block is considered by many to be the finest acoustic blues interpreter alive today."

Mike O'Cull- Rock and Blues Muse

Anyone familiar with her long career knows that she has the musical genius to pull it off, and she does... Rory Block came up with a brilliant concept with Ain't Nobody Worried.

Bill Mitchell- Blues Bytes

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Block delivers the goods once again… She is a force to be reckoned with in acoustic blues. Here we have another super set of tunes that will garner all sorts of accolades because the work here deserves it. Kudos to Rory for another exceptional celebration of Women of Song.

Steve Jones- Crossroad Blues Society

AIN’T NOBODY WORRIED arrives like a box of firecrackers that immediately kick the insides into high gear in a way that only songs like this can really do… every song is a highlight, whether it’s the stunning “Fast Car” or early classic “Freight Train.” Everything is played with total sonic finesse…

Bill Bentley- Bentley’s Bandstand

“I’ll Take You There” soars to open, giving way to “Midnight Train to Georgia,” “My Guy” and “Fast Car.” Other pleasers include “Cried Like a Baby,” “I’d Rather Go Blind,” “Lovin’ Whiskey,” “Dancin’ in the Streets” and “You’ve Got a Friend” – all of which feature joy in every groove.

Chicago Blues Guide

There’s always a feeling of immense anticipation when Rory Block releases a new album. Her latest, Ain’t Nobody Worried, does not disappoint… Christmas came early, and this album is a forever celebration.


With more than three dozen albums spanning a 55-year career, Rory Block has certainly proved her proficiency as far as being a superb singer-songwriter and a multi-faceted musician… Ain’t Nobody Worried is a timeless tribute to some exceptional artists…

Lee Zimmerman- Living Blues Magazine  

Opening with a masterful version of the Staples Singers' "I'll Take You There", this collection continues in gospel soul... which Rory herself provides with a confounding brilliance… superb rendering of the guitars… masterful versions of Koko Taylor's "Cry Like A Baby" and Elizabeth Cotton's "Freight Train" (with impeccable picking).

Paris Moves (translated from French)

An album full of a delicious magic, where Rory shows her most intimate facet but, at the same time, full of consistency giving the best of herself… Of course, Rory Block sounds as attractive and intense as usual.

La Hora Del Blues- Spain

Prove It On Me

A Tribute to groundbreaking
Women of the Blues

... using her platform as the reigning queen of the blues, Block is swooping in to pick up the slack. With her shimmering slide guitar, she takes the oldest, obscurest stuff she can find and breathes such life into it... this is a hot, in the moment set that just plain kicks ass with it's glorious simplicity putting the gals of the blues front and center with the spotlight burning bright.

Chris Spector- Midwest Record

A Woman's Soul

A Woman's Soul
A Tribute To Bessie Smith

A Woman's Soul- A Tribute To Bessie Smith - is the first in the Power Women Of The Blues series. 


... 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.

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Keepin' Outta Trouble CD Review

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 CD Review

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."

"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."

Avalon CD Review


A Tribute to Mississippi John Hurt

I Belong To The Band CD Review

"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."

"... yet another masterclass from a lady who deserves to be called 'the first lady of the blues'.

"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..."

"... 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 Skip james

"... liberating and exhilarating... nothing short of triumphant... she touches the guitar (and the songs themselves) with the carefree confidence of a modern-day master."

"... 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..."

"...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!"

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...


"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 CD Review

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."



"... 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 Cd Review

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 (

"... 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 (

“... 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 -

“... 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 - 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 (

"... 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..."

“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.”

"Rory Block's life-long involvement with the blues has reached a new high point with this release."
System Records (

"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."

“... 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 (

"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 -

"Traditionally minded modern-day blues empress..."
Elderly Instruments (

Color Me Wild
AWS Reviews Cont.
Avalon Reviews Continued


My children's recording is finally re-issued! Listen and buy it here, just in time for the holidays and beyond. For your kids, our kids, or big kids like me! Written while I was teaching songwriting to a group of "wild and wonderful" children at the Mountain Road Children's School in Upstate NY in the late 1970's, this album made it onto satellite radio, and elevator/retail store muzak programs everywhere. It has inspired some of those same kids, including mine, to become songwriters today. So put on your "silly hats" and prepare to have tons of fun! 

Important note: This cd is currently only available as an MP3 download with a printable cover, insert & back.

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Back to - A Woman's Soul - Reviews

... 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.
Bentley's Bandstand


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 -

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

Back to - Avalon - Reviews



"... a modern master in her own right, it simply doesn't get much better."

"... 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

Aint Nobody Worried- Reviews

Bentley’s Bandstand: October 2022
By Bill Bentley

Rory Block, Ain’t Nobody Worried. It’s become obvious that during the pandemic years a lot of musicians had a chance to slow down and figure out what it really is that makes their mojo work. For blues woman Rory Block, it’s the great songs of the ages, and she figured out that recording them now was a way to connect with eternity. She went through the songbook in her mind and picked out ten tracks either written or best-known recorded by female artists to spotlight, along with her own “Lovin’ Whiskey” original. The way everything comes together feels like a total love fest of everything that makes blues and soul music such a crowning achievement of American art. So whether it’s heroes like Mavis Staples, Gladys Knight, Mary Wells, Tracy Chapman, Koko Taylor, Bonnie Raitt, Etta James, Martha Reeves, or Carole King being celebrated, AIN’T NOBODY WORRIED arrives like a box of firecrackers that immediately kick the insides into high gear in a way that only songs like this can really do. In so many ways, every song is a highlight, whether it’s the stunning “Fast Car” or early classic “Freight Train.” Everything is played with total sonic finesse, and shows that sometimes the most direct highway to the heart is a matter of degrees, all aimed at a quiet revelation of reality. Rory Block has been on the blues trail for decades, and once again sounds like she is still discovering the endless beauty of it all. Freedom for all.

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