Roy Book Binder


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photograph of Roy Book Binder

A student and friend of the Rev. Gary Davis, Roy Book Binder is a blues guitar entertainer. Equally at home with blues and ragtime, “Book” shifts from open tunings to slide arrangements to original compositions with both traditional and self-styled licks. His storytelling emphasis is another characteristic that makes his style unique. Mixing stories of the great bluesmen he has known with songs that emphasize his points, he keeps his audiences well entertained.

Roy was born in Queens, New York City, October 5, 1941. And upon graduation from high school, he joined the navy and did a tour of duty in Europe. He bought his first guitar at a military base in Italy. After his enlistment was up, he returned to New York where he met one of his lifelong friends, Dave Van Ronk. Van Ronk was an incredible guitar player and based his style on that of the now famous blind bluesman and instructor, the Rev.Gary Davis. Impressed with his friend’s playing, Roy sought out the Reverend who also lived in New York and became first a student of the Reverend and later a chauffeur and tour companion. Much of Roy’s original material is based on his time on the road with Blind Gary Davis.

By the mid-to-late 60’s Roy was recording for both Kicking Mule and Blue Goose Records. In 1969, he toured England with Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup and Homesick James.

After meeting another of his life’s influences, the bluesman Pink Anderson, Roy released his first album, Travelin’ Man, on Adelphi. The album is named after one of the songs that Roy learned from Pink Anderson.

In 1973 he began a partnership with fiddler Fats Kaplin, and they recorded the Git Fiddle Shuffle. Roy and Fats performed together for three years, playing numerous concerts and recording a second album, Ragtime Millionaire in 1976. After this partnership dissolved Roy began touring the country, living in a motor home, and concentrating on live performances.

During the decade of the 80’s, Roy released several albums including the notable Bookeroo in 1988.

Roy has been described as a guitar pickin' hillbilly bluesman. His record albums now total seven. He has performed at most major blues and folk festivals in the U.S. and Europe, including Merlefest. Notables that have shared the stage with Roy include Bonnie Raitt, BB King, John Jackson, Sonny Terry, Doc Watson, Ray Charles, and Brownie McGhee. Roy has appeared regularly on Nashville Now, and has been included in Sheldon Harris' book, The Blues Who's Who.

Roy is a veteran guitar instructor and can often be found teaching at the Fur Peace Ranch with Jorma Kaukonen and others whose lives have been greatly influenced by the great Gary Davis. There he demonstrates songs, turnarounds, chord variations, right hand methods, and many of his own powerful adaptations and unique approaches to the blues. Read more about Roy Book Binder on User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply.

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