Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Michael Baytop Performs in Silver Spring!

Michael Baytop was born in Washington DC in 1948 and has lived in Washington and in surrounding areas all his life. His introduction to playing music came from his father who played harmonica and sang around the house. He gave Michael his first harmonica at the age of five. Later in life, he became interested in playing the blues that he heard as he was growing up. He was fascinated by the old acoustic country style in part because of the stories it told about life for black people in a folk context. He began taking lessons from Charlie Sayles, a local harmonica player, who he found out later, was in the Blues Who’s Who. He then began playing at picnics, backyard affairs, and parties with other musicians. In 1987 he met Archie Edwards, who that day was performing at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. This began an association that lasted until Mr. Edwards’s death in 1998. Mr. Edwards mentored Baytop and encouraged him to play the guitar. In 1989 Michael met, through Archie, Richard “Mr. Bones” Thomas, a lifelong resident of Washington who played rhythm bones (made of beef short rib bones).

Over the next ten years, Baytop played many venues with many different local artists, but mainly with Archie Edwards, Richard Thomas, and Michael Roach, a local blues guitarist who now resides in England. Baytop was a regular at the Archie Edwards Barbershop and spent many hours learning not only the music, but also the cultural context in which the music was created and its meaning to black heritage. He is continuing the tradition as President of the Archie Edwards Blues Heritage Foundation, at Archie’s Barbershop, which still opens every Saturday as a place where blues lives.

As President and performer for the Archie Edwards Blues Heritage Foundation, he received the 2005 Keeping the Blues Alive Award for Education from The Blues Foundation. As a performer he has played at numerous festivals, including the Bull Durham Blues Festival, the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, the Herndon Blues Festival (with Barrelhouse Bonnie), and Blues in the Burg. As both a featured artist and sideman, his recordings include Ain’t Got Me No Home, Blinds Of Life, and Archie’s Barbershop Blues.

Baytop has conducted lectures on blues and blues heritage as well as performance demonstrations at many educational institutions, including Maryland University and Morgan State University. He’s also been Instructor in Blues Guitar and Rhythm Bones at Centrum, Blues Week in Port Townsend, WA.

1 comment:

esther said...

I am so,so proud of you and your dad would be too! God bless you as you continue to keep this aspect of our heritage alive.