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Capturing The Undersung Blues People Of The Rural South

Timothy Duffy is on a mission to document America's vernacular music — specifically, the blues — and the everyday men and women who carry on the tradition. He's the co-founder of Music Maker Relief Foundation, a nonprofit that helps struggling and aging musicians.

 
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Their ancestral cultures have been oppressed and forbidden, and yet they rise up singing

It is no great secret that many of the most talented and influential people in the arts (and other areas too, of course) often go unheralded. Who knows why some people garner recognition and others do not? There are any number of reasons, but there are some people out there trying to rectify that.

 
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Wet plate portraits honoring overlooked blues musicians in the South

Timothy Duffy founded The Music Maker Relief Foundation 25 years ago as a way to preserve, recognize and provide support to the people behind the musical traditions of the South.

“Most of these people are unseen and silent, even though they created the greatest music that America has,” Duffy says. “The blues, jazz and gospel, still drive in the south, and are our greatest musical export to the world.”

 
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Honoring Blues and Roots Musicians in Tintypes

Staring into Ironing Board Sam’s smile, beautiful and bright as his fingers dance across a keyboard, one can easily forget that somewhere above him is a man balanced next to a 14-foot-high stand, aiming a large-format camera down at him, waiting for a strobe light to fire.

 
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These Portraits of Southern Blues Musicians Prove That Blues Is Not Dead

Ironing Board Sam began playing the pump organ as a small child in Rock Hill, South Carolina. By 14, he was playing local gigs for 10 bucks a pop. By 16, he was entertaining revelers at Winston-Salem drink-houses with his boogie-woogie piano tunes. By the mid-1960s, he’d landed a regular gig playing on Night Train, the first African-American TV music program. He played with a still-unknown Jimi Hendrix and the already wildly popular Sam Cooke…