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John Cephas/Phil Wiggins: From Richmond to Atlanta

If Sonny and Brownie set the mold for folk-blues duos, Cephas & Wiggins are carrying on that ebullient tradition. As Virginian harmonica player John Cephas puts it in the liner notes: “Before a lot of black musicians got any prominent recognition, Brownie and Sonny were out there in the forefront traveling all over the world. Those guys were the pioneers, they were respected. They paved the road for so many other black musicians. They were real heroes who let the world know what black people had invented and let them know how good it was.” From Richmond to Atlanta compiles the best selections from the duo’s three Flying Fish albums recorded between 1984 and 1992, highlighting the duo’s engaging Piedmont chemistry on Blind Blake’s “Police Dog Blues,” Rev. Gary Davis’ “I Saw the Light,” Furry Lewis’ “Brownsville” and Skip James’ “Cherryball.” Wiggins plays with a depth of country-flavored soul throughout and John Cephas provides the characteristic Piedmont bounce with his agile fingerstyle acoustic guitar work. Cephas also delivers the lyrics in a clear, pleasing baritone reminiscent of Josh White. Like Sonny and Brownie before them, this duo is a national treasure.

Originally Published