This year’s New York Guitar Festival (NYGF) begins with a Mother’s Day concert in honor of gospel/blues legend Sister Rosetta Tharpe, the godmother of rock & roll. She was America’s first national gospel star, whose famous windmill guitar moves lived on in Keith Richards and Pete Townshend. Playing everywhere from the Cotton Club to Carnegie Hall and the Apollo, Sister Rosetta merged sacred lyrics with secular rhythms in a scorching guitar style.
“She influenced everyone from Elvis Presley to Chuck Berry, Aretha Franklin, and Johnny Cash,” explains Music Director/Band Leader Luther Dickinson. To celebrate Tharpe’s musical achievements Dickinson will share the stage with Grammy-winner Alvin Youngblood Hart, Valerie June, Dom Flemons (of the Carolina Chocolate Drops), blues vocalist Ruthie Foster, Trixie Whitley, and – making their NYC debut – the gospel-singing trio Como Mamas from Como, Mississippi.
Joining Dickinson in our Sister Rosetta house band will be John Medeski – of Medeski Martin & Wood fame – on keyboards, as well as bassist Dominic John Davis and drummer Daru Jones, called “Jack White’s secret weapon” by Esquire magazine. Southern blues-rock rising star AJ Ghent, whose family pioneered the “sacred steel” tradition of playing gospel on lap and pedal steel guitars, rounds out the string section.