Mary Flower: Band in the Hand

Mary Flower

Hailing from Portland, Oregon, guitarist and lap slide player Mary Flower is renowned for her uniquely personal vision of roots music that blends ragtime, acoustic blues and folk – technically dazzling yet grounded in the down-to-earth simplicity of early 20th century American music. Mary is on the faculty of the 2013 Port Townsend Acoustic Blues Festival. (Register online).

Her fingerpicking forms the basis of a heavily syncopated, Piedmont/ragtime-based style wherein the thumb plucks a strong rhythmic base as the fingers etch out the melody. Mary also excels at lap slide guitar, allowing her to infuse her songs with a supremely delicate, plaintive sound that’s hers alone while recalling the blues giants of the past.

In an interview and podcast with the Americana Music Show, Mary talked about the Piedmont style:

“It’s synonymous with rag-time, really. Usually, the players were soloists and they have this style on my right hand I like to call “band in the hand.” Your fingers play the melody and then there’s rhythm in there too.

There’s a lot going on, and it was so good that it was danceable. So one person… And many times… This person was blind and they were just phenomenal, like Reverend Gary Davis, Blind Boy Fuller and somehow these guys were just amazing. But this style has always fascinated me because there’s so much going on and it’s really a complete style. There’s no room for a bass player. You’re kind of doing it all.”

Listen to the Americana Music podcast with Mary Flower.