Big Legal Mess Records/Music Maker
In 1989 Tim Duffy was a student at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill completing his master’s degree in Folklore. Duffy was documenting blues musicians including James “Guitar Slim” Stephens for the Southern Folklife Collection. Shortly before Stephen’s passing he urged Duffy to seek out another musician named Guitar Gabriel.
Twenty years earlier Gabriel a.k.a. Nyles Jones recorded the album “My South, My Blues” and it included the song “The Welfare Blues”, a local hit in both Pittsburgh and Cleveland, which had also become the title track of a 1988 re-issue. After finally locating him, Duffy a musician, photographer, and field engineer similar to John and Alan Lomax, formed a close friendship with Gabriel. Duffy began performing with Gabriel as Guitar Gabriel & Brothers in the Kitchen and in 1991 they released an album on cassette called “Do You Know What It Means To Have a Friend”. Duffy assisted the impoverished Gabriel the best he could.
In 1994 Duffy and his wife founded the Music Maker Relief Foundation, a 501c non-profit. It was formed “to preserve the musical traditions of the South by directly supporting the musicians who make it, ensuring that their voices will not be silenced by poverty and time. Music Maker will give future generations access to their heritage through documentation and performance programs that build knowledge and appreciation of America’s musical traditions.” Supporters include the late B.B. King, Eric Clapton, Ron Wood, Bonnie Raitt, Rosanne Cash, Taj Mahal, and many others.
Duffy and The Music Maker Relief Foundation have supported over 400 musicians and are celebrating their 25th Anniversary. On February 1st, 2019 the Foundation will be releasing their 25th Anniversary compilation album “Blue Muse”. The twenty-one track compilation features folk, blues, Appalachian, and gospel songs by Music Maker Recording artists Gabriel, Algia Mae Hinton, John Dee Holman, Ironing Board Sam, Robert Finley, Drink Small, Cary Morin, Dom Flemons, Taj Mahal, Eric Clapton w/ Duffy, Willie Farmer, Theotis Taylor, Eddie Tigner, Boot Hanks, Sam Frazier Jr. and others.
This 25th Anniversary celebration is a coordinated effort also featuring “Blue Muse” a book of tintype photography by Tim Duffy, a graphic novel, and an exhibition at the New Orleans Museum of Art. Please support The Music Maker Relief Foundation.