Etta Baker on Guitar and Banjo (MP3s)

I’ve become a regular visitor to the Old Blue Bus audio blog. It continues to turn me on to some real good musicians I probably would not have otherwise been exposed to. The latest is Etta Baker who plays guitar and banjo in a style that reminds me of Elizabeth Cotton and Mississippi John Hurt.

A young Taj Mahall was a college student in the early 1960s when he first heard those recordings. “I was immediately taken by her version of Railroad Bill. She is the greatest influence in my guitar playing.”

In 1962, Paul Clayton brought his friends, Bob Dylan and Susie Rotolo to visit Etta at her home in Morganton to celebrate Dylan’s 21st birthday. After his visit, Dylan rewrote Clayton’s song Whose Going to Buy You Ribbons, When I’m Gone into his classic Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright, in which you can clearly hear Etta’s guitar influence.

Old Blue Bus provides three MP3 downloads of her songs: One Dime Blues, Railroad Bill (recently covered by Greg Brown), and a sweet little banjo number called Going Down the Road Feeling Bad. She has three albums available at CD Baby (with plenty of samples). I’ve ordered Railroad Bill.

A few notes: (1) Etta Baker can be requested on Whole Wheat Radio. (2) The above MP3s are posted on Old Blue Bus for about a week, then they’re gone. So these direct links won’t be valid much longer. (3) This probably won’t be the last time I post about a musician I discovered on the Old Blue Bus audio blog.

About Phillip

Phillip Cairns is a beekeeper in St. John's, Newfoundland, who writes about beekeeping at mudsongs.org.

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