Advance notice of a great gig I’m organizing. Roy Book Binder's sole UK date this year:
Sunday 1 July The Slaughtered Lamb Great Sutton St, London doors 7.30pm £10
Roy is one of the best acoustic blues fingerpickers in the world. A New Yorker, he was part of the Greenwich Village scene in the mid-late 1960s, playing alongside Dave Van Ronk, Rambling Jack Elliott and Bob Dylan. He had guitar lessons from the Rev Gary Davis, and toured and gigged with him across the US. (He has a story or two about that...)
By the late 1960s Binder was recording for both Kicking Mule and Blue Goose Records. In 1969, he toured England with Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup and Homesick James.
After meeting another of his life's influences, the bluesman Pink Anderson, Binder released the classic album, Travelin' Man, on Adelphi Records, in 1971. (Check it out on Spotify and elsewhere; it's beautiful)
Roy's hardly ever in Europe. So if you like old-school blues, if you've ever dug Mississippi John Hurt or Elizabeth Cotten, if you play the guitar... you really should come to this gig. He is the real deal: there aren't many like him still around, let alone gigging in London this summer...
When he toured here with Larry Johnson in late 1970 he was described thus in a Jazz Journal review:
Bookbinder has flowing hair, a heavy moustache and a cowboy hat, and would resemble Wild Bill Hickok if it wasn't for the fact that he wears glasses. He played gentle melodic guitar in the Davis/Blake ragtime blues tradition, but his singing was really something else, as he performed a selection of mainly side-splitting blues in a drawling voice which broke hilariously (whether accidentally or deliberately I know not) part-way through every chorus. On this showing he's certainly the best white bluesman I've ever heard, and if he hasn't been recorded yet, somebody ought to do it, and bloody quickly.
Somebody took note of that last sentence with Roy's debut LP being recorded in 1971
Now he doesn't have long flowing hair anymore, and he wears a flat cap instead and sports an impressive moustache.
Travelin Man is a great album. It's on Spotify, if you use it. His guitar sounds amazingly chunky on it. And he sings like a cross between Scooter from the Muppet Show and Nina Simone. He definitely isn't the world's greatest singer, but he has a great voice.
He's definitely in that Piedmont school of guitar playing: think Mississippi John Hurt, Elizabeth Cotten, only with a bit more ragtime in there. I'm finding promoting the gig kind of difficult, as so few people seem to have heard of him. Essentially, promoting the gig means telling people who he is.
I've a couple of tracks of his here and there, and would def like to see him. The Slaughtered Lamb is a simpa venue, you probably know, it'll suit him well. Thanks for putting this on, Matt, let's hope it goes well.
I just noticed on the Facebook event page that Mr David Viner will be among the audience.
Maybe I should ask him to play a few songs...
(David Viner made the best British blues albums of the 21st century thus far in the shape of "Mr David Viner" and "This Boy Don't Care" in the mid-2000s. He also recorded last year's very good Bandcamp-only "Better In Than Out")