The duo of acoustic guitarist John Cephas and harpist Phil Wiggins enjoy a partnership spanning across several decades, during which time they emerged among contemporary musicís most visible exponents of the Piedmont Blues tradition
Both were born in Washington, D.C., although Wiggins was a quarter century younger than his partner; they met at a jam session in 1977, and both performed as regular members of Wilbert ďBig ChiefĒ Ellisís Barrelhouse Rockers for a time prior to Ellisís death. Their music, rooted in the rural African-American dance music of Virginia and North Carolina, showed the influence of Blind Boy Fuller, Gary Davis, and Sonny Terry, with a broad repertoire consisting of Piedmont Blues standards, as well as an ecclectic sampling of Delta stylings, R&B, ballads, ragtime, gospel, and country & western.
Ever since their 1984 debut, Sweet Bitter Blues, Cephas & Wigginsí sound applied sophisticated traditional instrumentation and modern gospel-edged vocals to both traditional standards and their own hard-hitting compositions, offering a soulful acoustic option to electric blues. A popular festival act, they also issued LPs including 1986ís W.C. Handy Award-winning Dog Days of August, 1988ís Walking Blues, 1992ís Flip, Flop and Fly and 1996ís Cool Down. They kept going strong and in 1999 released their ninth album, Homemade, on the legendary Alligator label. In 2000 Bullseye Blues issued From Richmond to Atlanta, a compilation of tracks from Cephas & Wigginsí three Flying Fish albums recorded between 1984 and 1992.
The duo continued to tour and play festivals, helping to keep the Piedmont sound alive. In the summer of 2002, they released Somebody Told the Truth, a mixture of old and new tracks that reintroduced them to the next generation of blues fans. Their newest release, Shoulder to Shoulder, is the antidote for anyone who still thinks blues music is a soundtrack for sadness. It features a mix of both original and classic material, with pianists Ann Rabson and Daryl Davis joining in with bassist Andrew Volpe. Steeped in Piedmont Blues, Shoulder to Shoulder uplifts, rejunvenates, nourishes and picks you up again!