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Joseph Spence

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I just ordered an artist by the name of Joseph Spence.  I read he was discovered by Sam Charters on one of his ethno-musical travels to the bahamas.  I have never heard him before but he caught my eye and he looks like he has done alot of traditional numbers, and reviews have stated his style was similar to the country blues.  do any of you like him?  suggestions on albums?

I simply love Jopeph Spence.? My wife simply hates him.? But that has to do more with his proclivity toward tuning problems (I'd be interested to hear what other Weenies think about whether this was intentional or what...) and his decidedly unusual way of singing (or not singing).? Regardless, Spence has an incredibly warm and inviting style, both on the guitar and in his personality which exudes from every song.

As for similarity to country blues, there is certainly some (he is a fingerpicker after all), but most of his music isn't what I'd call "in the style".? He does many religious numbers, which creates some level of a link as well.? As I understand it, Spence played (almost?) exclusively in dropped D.

As for recordings, I have one called Bahamian Guitarist, from Arhoolie.? Others have said the Folkways recordings is a must have, but I've never picked that up (too many other artists to buy to be reproducing yet).

As for playing it, I find Spence very difficult to capture soundwise.? In many places the notes aren't really that hard, but he is stylistically out there in the way beyond.? I can fake my way through Mary Ann and Happy Meeting, but I don't really sound anything like Spence.? My wife says that 'cause you can understand the words...


I love Joseph Spence. Here's my chance to ask a somewhat related question.

I just heard a Ghanaian highlife guitarist named King Onyina for the first time, and my first thought was to notice how much his playing reminded me of Joseph Spence.

Take a listen to the first track here and see if you don't agree:

Any other fans of King Onyina or highlife music here? I'm surprised after listening to him & reading about him that his name is not better known.


hey guys thanks for the reply.  the one I ordered is on rounder so i'll let you know my opinion when I get it. AMG gave it 41/2 stars, not that there opinion goes very far with me.  I think I'll pick up the one you also mentioned a2tom and I have a feeling my fiance will be in a similar mindset as your wife.
happy new year,

Hello, yes you are correct, that guy does sound very much like Spence.

I,m working on the Spence tune "Great Dreams fron Heaven". Ive got a very basic version down but now need to add some variations into it and due to my lack of musical knowledge I,m stuck. Anybody help with licks/runs which can be done over this tune, and any other help or advice would be appreciated


Blind Lemon Meringue (yes another blind guy)


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