Ry Cooder's musical journey has taken him India, Africa and, finally, Appalachia


by Wayne Bledsoe

Just lis­ten­ing to Ry Cooder's cat­a­log is like tak­ing a col­lege course in music, but a lot more fun. His albums have cel­e­brat­ed blues, folk, calyp­so, ear­ly jazz, rhythm and blues, rock 'n' roll, gospel and the music of the South­west, Hawaii, Cuba and Africa. He's helped the world know about the glo­ries of Hawai­ian mas­ter Gab­by Pahinui, Tex-Mex accor­dion great Fla­co Jimenez, Malian gui­tar vir­tu­oso Ali Far­ka Toure, Indi­an musi­cian Vish­wa Mohan Bhatt and Cuban all-star group col­lec­tive­ly known as the Bue­na Vista Social Club. In addi­tion, he's per­formed on albums by The Rolling Stones, Neil Young, Arlo Guthrie, Randy New­man, Judy Collins, The Mon­kees, Van Mor­ri­son, Eric Clap­ton, Cap­tain Beef­heart, John Hiatt, Bill Frisell, Taj Mahal, War­ren Zevon and many others.

It's sur­pris­ing, though, to hear that one of Cooder's first musi­cal loves is blue­grass and he's now on a tour in a col­lab­o­ra­tion with musi­cal cou­ple and blue­grass greats Ricky Skag­gs and Sharon White.


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