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Joseph Spence

Joseph Spence (born August, 1910 in Andros, Bahamas - died March 18, 1984 in Nassau, Bahamas) was a Bahamanian guitarist, singer and blues musician. He is well known for his vocalizations and humming while performing on guitar. Several modern folk, blues and jazz musicians, including Taj Mahal, Ry Cooder, Woody Mann and John Renbourn were influenced by and have recorded variations of his arrangements of gospel and Bahamanian pop tunes. The earliest recordings of Joseph Spence were field recordings by folk musicologists such as Sam Charters. Nearly all of the recorded songs are in a Drop D tuning, where the sixth string is tuned to a low D rather than E, so that the guitar sounds, from sixth to first D A D G B E. The power of his playing derives from moving bass lines and interior voices and a driving beat that he emphasizes with foot tapping. To this mix he adds blues coloration and calypso rhythms to achieve a unique and easily identifiable sound. He has been called the folk guitarist's Thelonious Monk 1.

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