MSG The Acoustic Blues Trio

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MSG - The Acoustic Blues Trio - January 21, 2006

M.S.G. - The Acoustic Blues Trio, performs traditional Piedmont blues. Its style of music has been influenced by the likes of Archie Edwards, Etta Baker and Cephas & Wiggins. They can raise the roof with some old fashioned house party tunes and then make you weep with its blues ballads! All three members are active participants with the Archie Edwards Blues Heritage Foundation.

Jackie Merritt, from Norfolk, VA., is an accomplished visual artist and musician. She performs in several bands: M.S.G.-the Acoustic Blues Trio (harmonica, vocals & percussion); Blues Xchange (bass & vocals) and The Archie Edwards Blues Heritage Foundation Band (harmonica & bones).

Miles Spicer, M.S.G.'s guitarist, demonstrates the distinctive technique of the Piedmont style in his playing (alternating thumb and finger picking). He is from the Washington, DC. Miles is currently the treasurer of the Archie Edwards Blues Heritage Foundation. In addition to M.S.G., he also plays with the Riverdale Ramblers Cajun Band, and the Archie Edwards Blues Heritage Foundation Band.

Resa Gibbs, the primary vocalist with M.S.G., is from Virginia Beach, VA. She is known for her silky, soulful and heartfelt sound. Resa sang background vocals on Gaye Adegbalola's Bitter Sweet Blues CD, produced by Rory Block and recorded by Alligator Records. She has also been for several years, a featured vocalist with the Archie Edwards Blues Heritage Foundation.

Jackie Merritt, Miles Spicer and Resa Gibbs paid homage to a long forgotten slice of Richmond's musical history at their January 21st "Folk in the Grove" concert. The hard, gritty times of the 1920's and 30's gave rise to the distinctive "Piedmont Blues" style, and Richmond was one of its hot spots. MSG - The Acoustic Blues Trio, pulled the audience right into the groove, kicking the evening off with "John Henry". Resa's deep, sonorous voice, Mile's skillful guitar picking, and Jackie's bones and harmonica combined to make their version of this well known work song a memorable one. This was followed by a humorous song about "moonshine" (and other vices!) entitled "God Don't Like It" with the audience lustily joining in on the chorus. The selection of songs throughout the evening was varied and interesting - heavily traditional (lots of Leadbelly), but each member of the group contributed a few self penned numbers that blended seamlessly with the older material while adding a contemporary note. The audience especially enjoyed Resa's "Isabelle" (referring to the 2003 hurricane) and Jackie's witty "Fast Food Mama". Miles sang a song he had written about a "Dear John" letter called "Jody's Got Your Girl" that was poignant but funny. He also performed a version (skillfully enhanced by Jackie's kazoo accompaniment) of the well known ballad of betrayal and murder - "Frankie and Johnny" that was catchy, fresh, and delivered with impeccable timing, There was a full gamut of fine songs throughout the evening, and plenty of commentary about some of the blues legends such as Archie Edwards who inspired the Trio. The concert ended with a beautiful gospel song "I'll Fly Away" and the entire audience joined in on the refrain.

Although the Piedmont Blues style was born out of hard times, the music is anything but depressing. There is an air of defiance, determination, humor and grace under pressure that makes the songs uplifting and inspirational. MSG - The Acoustic Blues Trio, did a wonderful job of conveying the powerful, earthy spirit of this music to the audience. The old time Richmond blues musicians, many of whom never received the recognition or respect that they deserved, would have been well pleased.

- Mary Smith, Co-Director, Richmond Folk Music


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