The Genesee Center for the Arts begins its 13th season with legendary blues singer Rory Block on Friday, September 24 at 8:00 p.m. in the Stuart Steiner Theatre. A four time W.C. Handy award-winning artist, Ms. Block works to preserve the Delta blues tradition for 21st Century audiences. Her powerful interpretation of traditional acoustic blues showcases her soulful, urgent vocals and redefines the boundaries of acoustic blues and folk.
Born in Princeton, New Jersey, Aurora "Rory" Block made her recording debut at age 12, backing her father, Allan Block, on the Elektra String Band Project. By the age of 14, she participated in the Sunday jam sessions in Washington Square Park, where her father eventually became the reigning impresario of the vital folk revival scene in the West Village. Her first lessons in blues music were at the feet of the Reverend Gary Davis. She swapped stories and guitar licks with seminal bluesman Eddie "Son" House, (Robert Johnson's mentor), and visited Skip James and Mississippi John Hurt to absorb, first-hand, their technique and creativity. Block recorded the instructional How to Play Blues Guitar, with Stefan Grossman and then embarked on a self-imposed decade-long hiatus from the music business. When she returned, the result was Rounder Records 1981 release, High Heeled Blues, an album Rolling Stone referred to as "some of the most singular and affecting country blues anyone - man or woman, black or white, young or old - has cut in recent years."
The 1990's were particularly prolific as Block began to garner kudos - two W.C. Handy awards for Traditional Blues Female Artist of the Year, and two for Best Acoustic Blues Album of the Year - and appeared on numerous television shows and at festivals worldwide. Additionally, she has performed and/or recorded with Bonnie Raitt, Bruce Hornsby, Herb Ellis, Paul Shaffer, Mark Knopfler, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Livingston Taylor, and Keb Mo. On her most recent album, Last Fair Deal, Block glides her way through a 14-song acoustic set, performing eight original songs as well as covers by her mentors, Son House and Robert Johnson.
Frank Mayo, Professor of Speech and Communications at Genesee Community College, has been coordinating this annual event for 14 years. "What I find especially remarkable is how respected Rory Block is as a legitimate interpreter of Blues, both as a vocalist and guitarist, in a genre dominated by male artists."
Patricia Hawley, Audience Services Manager at the Genesee Center for the Arts added, "Our blues concerts have been very well received and continue to grow in popularity. This is a rare opportunity to see a blues legend in your own backyard."
Tickets for Rory Block are $6.00 for adults, $3.00 for students and senior citizens, and $2.00 for Genesee students with a current ID. They can be purchased by calling the Genesee Center for the Arts Box Office at 585-345-6814, or online at firstname.lastname@example.org.