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Folklives #6: Baby Gramps
Monday, Oct 29, 2007

His sound is unmistakable - clusters of pitches escape from his National steel guitar like drunk bees from a hive, drawn out by an irresistable voice, one part Popeye, one part Tuvan throat singer. Baby Gramps has created a style all his own, pieced together from faded patches of herky-jerky ragtime rhythms, swampy fingerpicked blues, and vocal gymnastics that stretch the limits of the definition of singing.

Baby Gramps occupies a special place at Folklife. He is revered by young buskers and jug-band fingerpickers, inspiring them to plunk out age-old hokum blues themselves. The bearded, grunting troubador also represents a generation of musicians who took the vital energy of the Folk Revivial in a direction that married tradition with innovation, to the benefit of all who love their roots music delivered with a wink and a smile. Listening to Baby Gramps is like stepping into a home-made time machine: you don't know whether you're going into the past or the future.

Length: 6:12
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The music in this podcast was drawn from Northwest Folklife's archival audio recordings.
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