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Obit: bluesman John Cephas 1930-2009

Dan Schatz 05 Mar 09 - 12:07 AM
Bobert 05 Mar 09 - 07:46 AM
donna fletcher 05 Mar 09 - 03:32 PM
Bobert 05 Mar 09 - 09:26 PM
GUEST,Dan Cullers 05 Mar 09 - 10:48 PM
GUEST,Dan Schatz (on the road) 06 Mar 09 - 12:13 AM
Bobert 06 Mar 09 - 07:28 AM
Dan Schatz 08 Mar 09 - 11:55 AM
GUEST,donna fletcher 17 Mar 09 - 10:12 PM
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Subject: Obit: John Cephas 1930-2009
From: Dan Schatz
Date: 05 Mar 09 - 12:07 AM

I just received news that bluesman "Bowling Green" John Cephas - one half of Cephas and Wiggins, died today at his home in Virginia. John was one of the true greats - incredibly talented, and generous with his time and his art. He was a regular at the Smithsonian Folklife Festivals in Washington, DC and in 1989 he was awarded a National Heritage Fellowship.

An early obituary can be found here, and more information on his life can be found on the Cephas and Wiggins website.

The AP reports that he died of natural causes, but isn't more specific. At 78 he still maintained an active schedule, and had gigs scheduled for this Spring.

This is a tremendous loss to us all, but especially to his family and to his long-time musical partner, Phil Wiggins.

It's late now, but tomorrow I'll play "Guitar Man" one time for John Cephas.

Dan


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Subject: RE: Obit: John Cephas 1930-2009
From: Bobert
Date: 05 Mar 09 - 07:46 AM

This is a real bummer...

John was one fine man... A fine blues guitarist... A great teacher...

We'll all miss him... I remember a few years back sitting with him at the "Blues Party" at Blues Week and he had left his guitar back in his room and I had a steel bodied Regal resonator and I could tell that he wanted to get into a jam so I lent him my guitar... Ever since that night he's always taken the time to say "Hey" to me when I go to Blues Week for the Wednesday night jam in the Icehouse...

Sniff...

B~


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Subject: Obit: John Cephas 1930-2009
From: donna fletcher
Date: 05 Mar 09 - 03:32 PM

transferred from a duplicate thread.

It is with great sorrow that I pass along the sad news that Piedmont blues guitarist and singer John Cephas passed away on Wednesday, March 4, of natural causes. Not only was he a great musician, he was a generous and inspiring teacher to legions of guitar students, passing along his love for acoustic blues and ensuring that the tradition will continue in future generations.    Following is the text of a release issued by Alligator Records yesterday giving details of his career.
-----
Bowling Green" John Cephas
1930 - 2009

" Bowling Green " John Cephas was born in Washington , D.C. in 1930 into a deeply religious family. He takes his nickname from Bowling Green , Virginia , where he was raised. His first taste of music was gospel, but blues soon became his calling. His grandfather taught him the folklore of eastern Virginia , where his ancestors had toiled as slaves, and Cephas learned about blues from a guitar-playing aunt. But it was his cousin, David Taleofero, who taught him much of what he plays-the alternating thumb-and-finger picking style that characterizes Piedmont blues.

After learning to play the alternating thumb and fingerpicking style that defines Piedmont blues, John began emulating the records he heard. By the age of nine, John was playing for weekend gatherings with family and friends. Music from the ragtime era and early Piedmont artists such as Blind Boy Fuller, Blind Blake, Rev. Gary Davis, Blind Lemon Jefferson and Tampa Red were all influences on Cephas.

As a young man, John joined the Capitol Harmonizers and toured on the gospel circuit. After a stint in the Army during the Korean War, he returned to the United States and went through a variety of jobs that included professional gospel singer, carpenter and Atlantic fisherman. By the 1960s, Cephas was starting to make a living from his music and, since forming a duo with Wiggins in 1977, John has performed all over the world, serving as an ambassador of this singular American art form.

Among his many endeavors, John served on the Executive Committe of the National Council for the Traditional Arts, and has testified before congressional committees. He was also a founder of the Washington , D.C. Blues Society. "More than anything else," says John, "I would like to see a revival of country blues by more young people... more people going to concerts, learning to play the music. That's why I stay in the field of traditional music. I don't want it to die."

Cephas received the coveted National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1989. These fellowships recognize those who preserve cultural legacies in music, dance and crafts.


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Subject: RE: Obit: John Cephas 1930-2009
From: Bobert
Date: 05 Mar 09 - 09:26 PM

Hey, Donna...


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Subject: RE: Obit: bluesman John Cephas 1930-2009
From: GUEST,Dan Cullers
Date: 05 Mar 09 - 10:48 PM

I have listened to Cephas and Wiggins in the best of times and the worst of times. John Cephas always uplifted me, and I'm glad I got to see him one last time at the Gravity Lounge in Charlottesville this past fall. It was a small venue, and you could really see the love that people had for him and his music.

My wife and I went with a couple of friends with whom I'd attended their shows in the past. My friends are expecting a baby and we made the observation that it was the baby's first concert. We decided that baby couldn't be off to a better musical start than hearing the finger pickin'and baritone of John Cephas.

He will be greatly missed by this fan.


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Subject: RE: Obit: bluesman John Cephas 1930-2009
From: GUEST,Dan Schatz (on the road)
Date: 06 Mar 09 - 12:13 AM

Cephas and Wiggins were in fact my son's first concert - at the Smithsonian Festival when he was just two months old. We could tell he loved it. He must have taken in the music deeply, because to this day the Piedmont Blues is some of his favorite music.

Dan


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Subject: RE: Obit: bluesman John Cephas 1930-2009
From: Bobert
Date: 06 Mar 09 - 07:28 AM

Hey, I was at that festival, too...

Man, Phil has to be totally bummed...

B~


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Subject: RE: Obit: bluesman John Cephas 1930-2009
From: Dan Schatz
Date: 08 Mar 09 - 11:55 AM

There's a nice obituary in The Washington Post. Apparently he died of a pulmonary embolism.

I'm still sad.

Dan


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Subject: RE: Obit: bluesman John Cephas 1930-2009
From: GUEST,donna fletcher
Date: 17 Mar 09 - 10:12 PM

There will be a memorial concert for John Cephas at Smithsonian's Baird Auditorium on Sunday, March 29 from 1-3 pm, followed by a reception and jam at a separate location. Go to Archie Edwards Blues Heritage Foundation at www.acousticblues.com for more information.


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