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Sweet Bitter Blues: Washington, DC's Homemade Blues depicts the life and times of harmonica player Phil Wiggins and the unique, vibrant music scene around him, as described by music journalist Frank Matheis. Featuring Wiggins's story, but including information on many musicians, the volume presents an incomparable documentary of the African American blues scene in Washington, DC, from 1975 to the present. At its core, the DC-area acoustic 'down home' blues scene was and is rooted in the African American community. A dedicated group of musicians saw it as their mission to carry on their respective Piedmont musical traditions: Mother Scott, Flora Molton, Chief Ellis, Archie Edwards, John Jackson, John Cephas, and foremost Phil Wiggins. Because of their love for the music and willingness to teach, these creators fostered a harmonious environment, mostly centered on Archie Edwards's famous barbershop where Edwards opened his doors every Saturday afternoon for jam sessions. Sweet Bitter Blues features biographies and supporting essays based on Wiggins's recollections and supplemented by Matheis's research, along with a foreword by noted blues scholar Elijah Wald, historic interviews by Dr. Barry Lee Pearson with John Cephas and Archie Edwards, and previously unpublished and rare photographs. This is the story of an acoustic blues scene that was and is a living tradition.
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