Truckin’ My Blues Away is a mesmerizing and compelling work which draws you in, like a spider drawing you into her web, until there’s no escape. It’s devastatingly effective and will leave you pensive, energized, and determined to drive right down to North Carolina and offer your help to Tim, Denise, their staff, and volunteers, which I’ll explain below.
Truckin’ My Blues Away is an hour-long podcast and radio show featuring four of Music Maker’s many mainstay musicians. The musicians featured in this broadcast include Boo Hanks from Virgilina, Va.; Captain Luke from Winston-Salem, N.C.; Eddie Tigner from Atlanta; and Little Freddie King from New Orleans. “In their own words and performances, these men bring us the story of a music, an era and a culture that are uniquely American.” Here’s a link to a slideshow with an accompanying podcast that you can listen to. In addition, there’s a written article and a downloadable podcast. It’s the story of Music Maker Foundation, described briefly below and in full at the website, and the personal stories about how these four musicians have been assisted by Music Maker. Music Maker Relief Foundation, Inc., is a benevolent organization set up by Tim and Denise Duffy, which “helps the true pioneers and forgotten heroes of Southern music gain recognition and meet their day to day needs.”
The podcast begins with a standing-room-only crowd at the Broad Street Café in Durham, North Carolina, on New Years Eve, 2009. Captain Luke opens with “Poke Salad Annie," with Tim Duffy on guitar. From there, it pulls you into the story and into the lives of the musicians and of Music Maker.
Duffy’s life changed radically while he was in graduate school at the University of North Carolina studying folklore. He met an old bluesman by the name of James “Guitar Slim” Stevens, who some would say started Duffy on the road to perdition. Duffy says differently. He considers it the road to salvation. That road was the same road that others in the Delta region of Mississippi walked before him, except Duffy’s road started in the Piedmont and took him to various locations in the East. Both groups of people, however, were in search of the same thing: authentic bluesmen.
Music Maker currently supports 30 musicians who, along with all those that preceded them, Duffy calls the bedrock, the aquifer of modern music. From an introduction by Guitar Slim to Guitar Gabriel is where Duffy’s story begins. Duffy recorded Guitar Gabriel, made some cassettes of the music and put an ad in a blues magazine. Copies of the cassette eventually made their way to a couple of concert promoters, and Guitar Gabriel eventually got bookings all over the U.S. and even in Europe. That put “Paid” to Duffy’s teaching career, and he hasn’t looked back since. Duffy went from graduate student at UNC to guardian angel of a group of Piedmont musicians.