Photo by Bibiana Huang Matheis
The “Piedmont” in “Piedmont Bluz” doesn’t refer to the small city nestled in the middle of Oakland, but rather a region in the eastern US that stretches from about Richmond, Virginia to Atlanta, Georgia. There, beginning around the turn of the 20th century, rural African American musicians developed a unique, melodic blues style — Piedmont blues — heavily influenced by ragtime rhythms.
The wife-and-husband duo of Valerie and Ben Turner have taken it upon themselves to preserve and popularize this rich style of country blues through performances and workshops. Valerie Turner, a native New Yorker with southern roots in Virginia and Georgia, plays fingerstyle guitar and also dabbles with washboard, spoons, and banjo. Ben Turner, born in Trinidad, keeps the beat on washboard with a variety of brushes and thimbles, and occasionally chimes in on bones or harmonica.
Much loved wherever they go, Valerie and Ben believe that “there are stories to tell, people to remember, and things that must be said” — so, in addition to tickling your ears with delightful music, they weave a bit of history into the presentation of each song.
“They play the truehearted, authentic country blues with love. It’ll warm your heart. Keep your ears on Piedmont Bluz.”
—Frank Matheis, Living Blues