Since the mid-'60s when he made the move to go full-time with his artistry, Rhode Island-based acoustic blues and folksinger Paul Geremia has supported himself through his music. Geremia is an Italian-American from Providence, Rhode Island, a town that gave birth to the careers of Roomful of Blues, Duke Robillard, and other iconic blues figures. He was raised in a family that moved across the country and back several times in his youth, and that experience furthered his interest in music, history, and travel. Like so many others of his generation, Geremia was introduced to classic blues by a performance he saw at a folk festival. He saw Mississippi John Hurt at a topical songs workshop at the 1963 Newport Folk Festival and has never been the same since. Also at Newport that year were Peter LaFarge, Phil Ochs, Pete Seeger, and Bob Dylan.
During this time, Geremia became a serious student of the blues and harmonica, his first instrument. By the mid-'60s, he noticed that the music he was playing was being called "folk music" by the masses. He began playing guitar during a short stint at an agricultural college, but left to assume the life of a traveling bluesman, where he found profitable gigs at coffee houses in cities with large populations of college kids. Geremia forged friendships and shared stages with many classic bluesmen, including Babe Stovall, Yank Rachel, Son House, Skip James, Howlin' Wolf, and most importantly, Carolina bluesman Pink Anderson, who had something of a career rebirth thanks to Geremia's efforts.
Geremia moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1966, drawn to the city by the scene at Club 47, where he was one of many participant-observers. At that legendary Cambridge club in the mid-'60s, one could hear traditional folk music performers from every part of the country, both bluesmen and women.
His profile has been boosted through his long relationship with a good, stable independent label, Red House Records of Minneapolis, where his labelmates include other acoustic blues and folk singers like Guy Davis and John Gorka. His albums for the Red House label are most easily available and include Love, Murder and Mosquitos, The Devil's Music, Live from Uncle Sam's Backyard, Self Portrait in Blues, and Gamblin' Woman Blues. The Guitar Artistry of Paul Geremia: Six and Twelve-String Blues, a DVD on Vestapol, is a performance video sure to delight fans of fingerpicking-style guitar. The DVD is part of a series produced by New Jersey-based roots music musician and impresario Stefan Grossman. Acoustic Guitar magazine named Geremia "one of the best country blues finger pickers ever."
Because Geremia is so passionate and knowledgeable about what he does, his live performances are spiced up by compelling stories about the classic blues men and women he's befriended through the years, many of them now gone. And the fact that he loves what he does for a living comes through in all of his live shows. The audience can sense his sincerity and authenticity. Along the way, over the course of Geremia's many concerts throughout the U.S., Canada, and Europe, younger, equally passionate, up-and-coming bluesmen and women are being encouraged all the time. ~ Richard J. Skelly