- Norman Blake (American musician)
Background information Birth name Norman Blake Born March 10, 1938 Origin Chattanooga, Tennessee Genres Bluegrass, folk, country Occupations Instrumentalist, singer-songwriter Instruments Vocals, guitar, fiddle, mandolin, dobro, banjo, viola, tenor banjo, mandocello Years active 1954–present Labels Rounder, Flying Fish, Takoma, Shanachie, Red House Website somagency.com/NormanBlake/
Norman Blake (born March 10, 1938 in Chattanooga, Tennessee) is an instrumentalist, vocalist, and songwriter. In a career spanning more than 50 years Blake has played in a number of folk and Country groups. He is considered one of the leading figures in the Bluegrass revival of the 1970s and is still active today, playing concert dates and making albums with his wife Nancy Blake.
When Norman was one year old, his family moved to Sulphur Springs, Georgia where he was raised.
Although known as one of the most prominent acoustic guitar flatpickers, Norman Blake is a multi-instrumentalist and vocalist. Other instruments he plays include the mandolin, 6-string banjo, fiddle, dobro, banjo and viola. He is known for his loose right hand guitar technique, which arose out of his mandolin technique. Also well known is his devotion to 12 fret guitars, including Martin 00s, 000s, D18s, D28s, and, most recently, Gibsons, like his 1929 12 fret Nick Lucas special.
Blake is best known for his work with John Hartford, Tony Rice, and his wife, Nancy Blake. He has played backup for Johnny Cash, June Carter, Bob Dylan, Steve Earle, Kris Kristofferson, Ralph Stanley, and Joan Baez. Blake also played on the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band album, Will the Circle Be Unbroken. From 1969 to 1971 he was a regular on ABC's The Johnny Cash Show, supplementing Cash's band the Tennessee Three.
Blake is listed in the credits of the Bob Dylan album Nashville Skyline and the Johnny Cash album Orange Blossom Special. He was featured on the Steve Earle comeback album Train A' Comin' and on the multi-platinum O Brother Where Art Thou? soundtrack, which ignited new interest in bluegrass music and won a Grammy Award for Album of the Year in 2002. Blake participated in the "Down from the Mountain" tour which resulted. Blake also played on the 2007 album Raising Sand by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, which won five Grammy Awards.
Most of the music that Norman Blake plays could be described as neo-traditionalist Americana folk and roots music (folk, bluegrass, country, blues), and many of the songs he plays are traditional, but he plays this acoustic type of music with a style, speed, and quality that has evolved and progressed in the modern age. Though probably best known for his fluid renditions of classic fiddle tunes transcribed for the guitar (Fiddler's Dram / Whiskey Before Breakfast), Blake has also written songs that have become bluegrass standards, such as "Ginseng Sullivan" from Back Home in Sulphur Springs, "Slow Train through Georgia", and "Church Street Blues".
- Back Home in Sulphur Springs (Rounder, 1972)
- The Fields of November (Flying Fish, 1974)
- Old and New (Flying Fish, 1975)
- Norman Blake/Tut Taylor/Sam Bush/Butch Robins/Vassar Clements/David Holland/Jethro Burns (Flying Fish, 1976)
- Live at McCabe's (Takoma, 1976)
- Norman Blake and Red Rector (Country, 1976)
- Whiskey Before Breakfast (Rounder, 1976)
- Blackberry Blossom (Flying Fish, 1977)
- Directions (Takoma, 1978)
- Rising Fawn String Ensemble (Rounder, 1979)
- Full Moon on the Farm (Rounder, 1981)
- Original Underground Music from the Mysterious South (Rounder, 1983)
- Nashville Blues (Rounder, 1984)
- Lighthouse on the Shore (Rounder, 1985)
- The Norman & Nancy Blake Compact Disc (Rounder, 1986)
- Natasha's Waltz (Rounder, 1987)
- Slow Train through Georgia (Rounder, 1987)
- Blake & Rice (Rounder, 1987)
- Blind Dog (Rounder, 1988)
- Norman Blake and Tony Rice 2 (Rounder, 1990)
- The Fields of November/Old and New (Flying Fish, 1992)
- Just Gimme Somethin' I'm Used To (Shanachie, 1992)
- While Passing Along This Way (Shanachie, 1994)
- The Hobo's Last Ride (Shanachie, 1996)
- Chattanooga Sugar Babe (Shanachie, 1998)
- Be Ready Boys: Appalachia to Abilene (Shanachie, 1999)
- Far Away, Down on a Georgia Farm (Shanachie, 1999)
- Flower From the Fields of Alabama (Shanachie, 2001)
- Old Ties (Rounder, 2002)
- Meeting on Southern Soil (Red House, 2002)
- The Morning Glory Ramblers (Dualtone, 2004)
- Back Home in Sulphur Springs [Norman & Nancy Blake] (Dualtone, 2006)
- Shacktown Road (Dualtone Music Group, 2007)
- Look A-Yonder Comin' (State Archives of Florida, 2008) (A bluegrass compilation featuring Norman and Nancy Blake)
- Rising Fawn Gathering (Plectrafone, 2009)
- Sleepy Eyed Joe (2009)
- Green Light On The Southern (Plectrafone, 2010)
Blake appears on the following soundtracks as either musician or arranger:
- O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000) (Mercury 088170)
- Cold Mountain (2003) (DMZ / Columbia 86843)
- Walk the Line (2005) (Wind-Up Records)
- Norman Blake's Guitar Techniques #1 (Homespun, 1990 VHS, 2003 DVD)
- Mandolin of Norman Blake (Homespun, 1992 VHS, 2005 DVD)
- My Dear Old Southern Home (Shanachie, 1994 VHS, 2003 DVD)
- Legends of Flatpicking Guitar (Vestapol, 1995 VHS, 2001 DVD)
- The Video Collection 1980-1995 (Vestapol, 1996 VHS, 2004 DVD)
- Great Guitar Lessons - Bluegrass Flatpicking (Homespun, 2000 VHS, 2006 DVD)
- Norman Blake's Guitar Techniques #2 (Homespun, 2001, 2003 DVD)
- Official website
- Allmusic entry
- Norman Blake discography
- Live version of "Fifty Miles of Elbow Room" by Norman and Nancy Blake from the 2003 Florida Folk Festival. Made available for public use by the State Archives of Florida.
Grammy Award for Album of the Year (2000s) Supernatural performed by Santana (Rodney Holmes, Tony Lindsay, Karl Perazzo, Raul Rekow, Benny Rietveld, Carlos Santana, Chester Thompson); engineered/mixed by Alvaro Villagra, Andy Grassi, Anton Pukshansky, Benny Faccone, Chris Theis, Commissioner Gordon, David Frazer, David Thoener, Glenn Kolotkin, Jeff Poe, Jim Gaines, Jim Scott, John Gamble, John Karpowich, John Seymour, Matty Spindel, Mike Couzzi, Steve Farrone, Steve Fontano, T-Ray, Tom Lord-Alge, Tony Prendatt & Warren Riker; produced by Alex Gonzales, Art Hodge, Charles Goodan, Clive Davis, Dante Ross, Dust Brothers, Fher Olvera, Jerry 'Wonder' Duplessis, K. C. Porter, Lauryn Hill, Matt Serletic, Stephen M. Harris & Wyclef Jean (2000) Two Against Nature performed by Steely Dan (Walter Becker, Donald Fagen); engineered/mixed by Dave Russell, Elliot Scheiner, Phil Burnett & Roger Nichols; produced by Donald Fagen & Walter Becker (2001) O Brother, Where Art Thou? Soundtrack performed by Alison Krauss & Union Station (Barry Bales, Ron Block, Jerry Douglas, Alison Krauss, Dan Tyminski), Chris Sharp, Chris Thomas King, Emmylou Harris, Gillian Welch, Harley Allen, John Hartford, Mike Compton, Norman Blake, Pat Enright, Peasall Sisters (Hannah Peasall, Leah Peasall, Sarah Peasall), Ralph Stanley, Sam Bush, Stuart Duncan, The Cox Family (Evelyn Cox, Sidney Cox, Suzanne Cox, Willard Cox), The Fairfield Four (Nathan Best, Isaac Freeman, Robert Hamlett, James Hill, Joseph Rice, Wilson Waters, Jr.), The Whites (Buck White, Cheryl White, Sharon White) & Tim Blake Nelson; engineered/mixed by Mike Piersante & Peter Kurland; master engineered by Gavin Lurssen; produced by T-Bone Burnett (2002) Come Away with Me performed by Norah Jones; engineered/mixed by Jay Newland & S. Husky Höskulds; master engineered by Ted Jensen; produced by Arif Mardin, Craig Street, Jay Newland & Norah Jones (2003) Speakerboxxx/The Love Below performed by OutKast (André 3000, Big Boi); engineered/mixed by Brian Paturalski, Chris Carmouche, Darrell Thorp, Dexter Simmons, John Frye, Kevin Davis, Matt Still, Moka Nagatani, Neal H. Pogue, Padraic Kernin, Pete Novak, Reggie Dozier, Robert Hannon, Terrence Cash & Vincent Alexander; master engineered by Bernie Grundman & Brian Gardner; produced by André 3000, Big Boi & Carl Mo (2004) Genius Loves Company performed by Ray Charles and Various Artists; engineered/mixed by Al Schmitt, Ed Thacker, Joel W. Moss, John Harris, Mark Fleming, Pete Karam, Robert Fernandez, Seth Presant & Terry Howard; master engineered by Doug Sax & Robert Hadley; produced by Don Mizell, Herbert Waltl, John R. Burk, Phil Ramone & Terry Howard (2005) How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb performed by U2 (Bono, Adam Clayton, The Edge, Larry Mullen, Jr.); engineered/mixed by Carl Glanville, Flood, Greg Collins, Jacknife Lee, Nellee Hooper, Simon Gogerly & Steve Lillywhite; master engineered by Arnie Acosta; produced by Brian Eno, Chris Thomas, Daniel Lanois, Flood, Jacknife Lee & Steve Lillywhite (2006) Taking the Long Way performed by Dixie Chicks (Martie Maguire, Natalie Maines, Emily Robison); engineered/mixed by Chris Testa, Jim Scott & Richard Dodd; master engineered by Richard Dodd; produced by Rick Rubin (2007) River: The Joni Letters performed by Herbie Hancock; featuring Norah Jones, Joni Mitchell, Corinne Bailey Rae , Tina Turner ; produced by Herbie Hancock & Larry Klein; engineered/mixed by Helik Hadar; master engeineered by Bernie Grundman (2008) Raising Sand performed by Robert Plant & Alison Krauss; produced by T-Bone Burnett; engineered/mixed by Mike Piersante; master engeineered by Gavin Lurssen (2009) Complete list · (1960s) · (1970s) · (1980s) · (1990s) · (2000s) · (2010s)
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