Blues songstress Rory Block can’t seem to make up her mind.
Over the years, Block, who plays Friday in the Panida Theater in Sandpoint and Saturday at The Met in Spokane, has been alternating between blues pop and acoustic Delta blues.
When she appeared here in 1995, the singer-guitarist played solo on The Met stage. It was her and only her presenting her amazing gifts - blazing slide guitar work and earth-shaking vocals.
Her album of the same year, “When a Woman Gets the Blues,” was an unadorned and engaging acoustic blues album. Block built the album almost entirely with songs by legendary artists like Son House, Nehemiah “Skip” James and Robert Johnson. She not only captured the songs’ authenticity, Block also played them with zest.
But on her latest album, “Tornado,” Block demonstrates her versatility by revisiting blues pop.
For the purposes of her Inland Northwest appearances, she’ll play both styles. Her first set will be comprised of acoustic numbers. Then she’ll bring out a band for the second set to perform more pop-oriented material.
“Tornado” commences with the aptly titled “Mississippi Bottom Blues” - one of the few traditional moments on the disc. Throughout the release, Block accents most of the 11 songs with shades of folk, jazz and pop.
It’s an ambitious album. She wrote nine of the songs. One of the two covers is Andy Barne’s epic “The Last Leviathan.” Incidentally, this song marked one of the highlights of her concert here two years ago.
Throughout “Tornado,” Block’s 11th for Rounder Records, the singer is joined by a cast of illustrious guests, including Paul Shaffer and Will Lee (of David Letterman’s band), Mary Chapin Carpenter and David Lindley.
Block emerged in the late ‘70s and recorded a couple of albums for a major label. Since 1982, she’s been with Rounder, a respected roots music outlet.
That Block has never amounted to much of a commercial phenomenon isn’t surprising. Most contemporary blues artists aren’t. Judging from the content of the current album and the popularity of artists Melissa Etheridge and Tracy Chapman, with a little luck Block just might garner some commercial success.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color Photo
MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: CONCERT Rory Block will perform at Sandpoint’s Panida Theater at 8 p.m. Friday and in Spokane at The Met at 8 p.m. Saturday. Sandpoint tickets are $14, available at Eichardt’s Pub, Schweitzer Mountain Resort and Java Adagio in Sandpoint, Small Potatoes in Bonners Ferry and The Long Ear in Coeur d’Alene. Spokane tickets are $14 and $12 in advance ($15 and $13 at the door), available at G&B; Select-a-Seat outlets or call (800) 325-SEAT.
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