Mary Flower

简介: First and foremost, Mary Flower is a world-class guitarist who swings the blues. Along the way, she’s mastered the intricate, harmonically 更多>

First and foremost, Mary Flower is a world-class guitarist who swings the blues. Along the way, she’s mastered the intricate, harmonically subtle Piedmont style, with its good-timey, ragtime feel. The Piedmont style forms the foundation of much of her work, but she’s an unrivaled interpreter of Mississippi blues and an ingenious composer in her own right whose tunes take American music into uncharted waters. In the rarefied atmosphere where Mary operates, she’s recognized everywhere as one of the pre-eminent fingerstyle guitarists who continue in the rich acoustic blues tradition. In fact, she’s twice placed in the top three at the prestigious National Finger Picking Championship in Winfield, Kansas–the only woman to do so. That’s remarkable enough, but Flower goes beyond technique. She’s a warm singer who ranges far in the byways of blues, pop and jazz for the kind of down-home yet sophisticated material she feels comfortable with. Mary brings smarts and sublime equipoise to her music–you feel happier after listening to her.
This great player got her start playing in her native Indiana before becoming a much-loved part of the Denver music scene. In Colorado, Mary was part of the famed Mother Folkers, a loose confederation of folk and blues players. During the 1970s and ’80s, Mary helped develop the core curriculum at Denver’s Swallow Hill Music School and taught there in the early ’90s. She continues to be a highly regarded teacher–her knowledge and technical mastery have inspired students at the Augusta Heritage Center and the Swannanoa Gathering, among many other educational venues.
Since moving to Portland, Ore. in 2004, Mary has played shows all over North America. She’s a regular on the blues and folk festival circuit and has performed at Merlefest, the Kerrville Folk Fest and theWinnipeg Folk Festival. As a recording artist, she has put her name on eight collections, including 2005′s acclaimed Yellow Dog Records release Bywater Dance, cut in New Orleans with producer Mark Bingham and some of the the Crescent City’s finest musicians. Like all of Mary’s recordings, Bywater Dance shows off her many sides. There’s deep, dark blues in reworkings of the traditional “Crow Jane” and Geechie Wiley’s “Last Kind Word Blues,” along with the kind of obscure-but-terrific songs Mary has always been adept at finding–check out her take on “New Orleans Hop Scop Blues,” or Leroy Carr’s “Papa’s on the Housetop”.
Mary is still at it–recent months have found her playing her first-ever shows in Nashville to audiences transfixed by her effortless command. Nominated for a 2008 Blues Music Award, Mary won the coveted Vox Populi award at the 2009 Independent Music Awards’ Acoustic Song category for “Slow Lane to Glory”–a standout track from 2009′s Yellow Dog Records release Bridges.
What’s so reassuring about Mary is also what’s mildly heroic–given her modesty and fidelity to the muse of the blues. Picking a few instrumentals, playing a couple of her own songs, and singing the blues, she slides into the music naturally, like it’s a walk in the park, and powers tunes such as Son House’s ‘Death Letter Blues” with her taut, perfectly controlled lap steel playing. Oh, yeah–she’s a master of that instrument, too. And in keeping with her walk-it-like-you-talk it manner, she doesn’t make a big deal out of her virtuosity or her vast knowledge. It’s just what she does, and in this troubled world, everyone could use the kind of confidence Mary Flower brings to the blues every time she plays it.