Music Makers

Tim Duffy ’91 developed a vision for preserving traditional music that included the legendary musicians themselves.

The September/October 2015 issue of the Review profiles Tim Duffy and a few of the musicians of the Music Maker Relief Foundation that he began with his wife Denise.  Read the full article online.

Below you can read more about the artists and listen to some of their music.

Luther “Captain Luke” Mayer

Luther “Captain Luke” Mayer grew up in rural South Carolina and North Carolina, soaking up the music of the countryside. After moving to Winston-Salem, he began to sing the songs he heard on the radio — from big band to hillbilly ballads — as well as gospel in church. Blessed with a natural baritone, his music is rooted firmly in the African-American working class of the Carolina Piedmont and the blues, but his style and song selection have changed occasionally to suit his audience.

Samuel “Ironing Board Sam” Moore

Born in South Carolina in 1939, Sammy Moore was performing locally on piano and organ at age 14. By the late 1950s in Miami, lacking a stand for his electric organ, he mounted it on an ironing board. When he moved to Memphis, he became known as “Ironing Board Sam.” He recorded sporadically without hits. But those who witnessed him personally or on the R&B TV show Night Train saw a mellower Little Richard crossed with a saner Screaming Jay Hawkins and a less churchy Ray Charles.

Etta Baker

Etta Baker was born in 1913 to a musical family in the North Carolina foothills of Appalachia, a musical and racial crossroads. She claims a mix of African-American, white and Native American blood. She grew up in Morganton, where races were not as tightly divided as they were down East. Baker’s music reflects the open atmosphere in which she learned to play. African-American blues, white country picking and English fiddle tunes blend and erupt in her unique style of finger work on both guitar and banjo.

John Dee Holeman

John Dee Holeman grew up in and around Orange County. When he was 14 he bought a new Sears Silvertone guitar for $15, and his uncle and cousin taught him a few chords. He also picked up tunes listening to records and others playing at parties. After decades of mostly local gigs, his career took off and has taken him all over the world. When he turned 80, friends surprised him with a new electric guitar, which made his Piedmont blues sound as fresh as ever.

Robert Lewis “Guitar Gabriel” Jones

Robert Lewis “Guitar Gabriel” Jones moved from Atlanta to Winston-Salem when he was 5. His father had recorded music in the 1930s, and after traveling in his teens and serving in the Army in World War II, Guitar Gabriel was largely on the road with carnivals, minstrel shows and backing up other blues performers through the 1960s. He recorded a highly acclaimed album under the name Nyles Jone, but after becoming disillusioned with the music business, he played mostly around Winston-Salem until a career revival in the 1990s.