MICHAEL ROACH Innocent Child Stella Records (STCD 008)
Who, you might ask? Roach is an African American musician from the D.C. area who has lived in England for decades, playing and teaching all over Europe. He was a student of John Cephas, Archie Edwards, and John Jackson in the States and has learned well – a now-middle-aged Black performer based in the Piedmont tradition. This is unusual, to say the least.
On this his fifth “solo” CD release on this label since 1993, Michael Roach pays homage to his ancestors, including all the above- mentioned, plus Josh White, Jerry Ricks, and John Hurt. Much of the disc is on his own, with a handful having Johnny Mars (another ex-pat, from my old neck of the woods), plus some with a gospel group from Birmingham (UK!). Much of the material is originals, with a few salient covers… all the arrangements are his. Roach is a fine finger-picker with an appropriate voice for the material and style. There are few, if any, Black musicians of his age pursuing that realm of blues; get this, not because of its novelty, but because he’s really that good! Available via www.stellarecords.net or www.michaelroach.com, you won’t be disappointed one iota. This is good music, not the other kind. Michael Roach is certainly worthy of your attention, and ought to be brought “down’ here for some of the many festivals that now abound! He’d go down a bomb!
Peter B. Lowry
p.s. – He also has an album with a larger band with horns… haven’t heard that as yet! Entitled “¡betcha!” (Stella STCD 009)
p.p.s. – In fact, he and I met decades ago when Cephas & Wiggins played nearby in Upstate NY… Michael was the driver. See photo section!
pub: THE BLUES TIMES No. 216 – March 2011; pp. 8/9.