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.
Podcast with iTunes
The music in this podcast was drawn from Northwest Folklife's archival audio recordings.
Listen to more recordings from the Northwest Folklife Festival
Return to the podcast page