Cephas & Wiggins to Perform in Trenton, NJ


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"Remarkable guitar and harmonica duets. Their infectious rhythms and supple melodies combine tasteful fingerpicking with impassioned harmonica solos." — The Washington Post

Acclaimed acoustic blues duo Cephas & Wiggins, touring in support of their latest CD, Somebody Told the Truth, will perform live in Trenton. Somebody Told the Truth is a spirited and seamless mix of both original and classic material, shedding a bright light on the Piedmont blues that Cephas & Wiggins have been performing for almost 30 years. Concert information is as follows:

Thursday, May 19th: Patriots Theater
200 Barracks St. Trenton, NJ
7:00PM, $30

Almost immediately after Bowling Green John Cephas and Harmonica Phil Wiggins joined forces in 1978, the blues community proclaimed them as the new champions of the East Coast Piedmont style of blues first popularized by artists like Blind Boy Fuller, Rev. Gary Davis, Blind Willie McTell and Blind Blake. And because both musicians were born in Washington, D.C., they bring an urban sophistication to the traditionally rural blues they perform. According to DownBeat, “Cephas' rich baritone singing and intricate, refined ragtime fingerpicking are a perfect fit with Wiggins' rural-blues harmonica stylings."

With their new album (and third for Alligator), Somebody Told The Truth, Cephas & Wiggins perform vibrant guitar and harmonica duets showcasing their almost telepathic musical communication. With the solid mix of brightly played music fueled by Cephas' gently rolling guitar and vocals and driven by Wiggins' freight train chugging harmonica, Somebody Told The Truth is the antidote for anyone who still thinks blues music is a soundtrack for sadness.

John Cephas was born in 1930 and raised in Bowling Green, Virginia. His first taste of music was gospel, but blues soon became his calling. After learning to play the alternating thumb and fingerpicking guitar style that defines Piedmont blues, John began emulating the records he heard by Blind Boy Fuller, Blind Blake, Rev. Gary Davis and other early Piedmont artists. Aside from playing blues, John worked early on as a professional gospel singer, carpenter and Atlantic fisherman. By the 1960s, he was starting to make a living from his music.

Phil Wiggins was born in 1954. He began his musical career playing with some of Washington's leading blues artists, including Archie Edwards and John Jackson, and attributes his style to his years spent accompanying locally noted slide guitarist and gospel singer Flora Molton. His harmonica sound developed from listening to piano and horn players, as well as the music of Sonny Terry, Sonny Boy Williamson I, Little Walter, Big Walter Horton and Junior Wells. Phil also apprenticed with Mother Scott (a contemporary of Bessie Smith). Besides being a renowned harmonica player, Wiggins is also a gifted songwriter and singer whose material has helped define the duo's sound.

Phil first met John in 1976 at the Smithsonian National Folklife Festival in Washington, D.C. Along with pianist Wilber “Big Chief" Ellis and bassist James Bellamy, John and Phil formed the Barrelhouse Rockers. After Ellis' death in 1977, the duo of Cephas & Wiggins was born. While overseas in 1981, they recorded two albums for the German L&R label. After two successful Flying Fish releases in the late 1980s, Cephas & Wiggins made their Alligator debut with Cool Down in 1996. 1999 saw the release of Homemade, the delightful follow-up. The Washington Post said, “Cephas & Wiggins are giants...one mind seems to govern both mouths and all four arms...a marvelous and essential journey."

After hundreds of concerts at major festivals, concert halls and colleges (not to mention the many workshops the two conduct), Cephas & Wiggins continue to bring energetic good times to each performance, winning new fans everywhere they go. Now, with Somebody Told The Truth and extensive international touring, Cephas & Wiggins' mission to keep the Piedmont blues alive continues to roll on, enthralling blues fans all over the world.

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