Catching Up With Earnest “Guitar” Roy

By Jason Jefferies

 

New Music Maker Foundation artist Earnest ‘Guitar’ Roy learned how to play the blues from his father (who was also named Earnest Roy).

“I was born into it.  My daddy was a blues player.  He taught me everything he knew.  When I came home from my first day of school, they (my parents) surprised me with a guitar.  I had been plucking around on my dad’s guitar, and that’s probably why he bought me my own: he didn’t want me breaking his strings.”

“I’m excited because I get the chance to lead the way.  I hope I can help start a new chapter of Music Maker’s history.” – Earnest “Guitar” Roy, JR.

What is it about blues music, specifically, that resonates with Earnest ‘Guitar’ Roy?

“In the beginning, that was the only music I heard.  I loved the way my daddy played.  I have the same style as he did, and he could play in every style of blues.  He taught me that.

“Coming up, I wanted to be the best guitar player I could be; that’s what my daddy wanted me to be.  So I started listening to the best guitar players: B.B. King, Carlos Santana, George Benson and Wes Montgomery.  Those are the best guitar players of all-time in my book, and they are the guitar players I built my style around.”

Does Earnest believe there is something about Mississippi (where he is from) that brings the blues out of the guitarists who live there?

“No, I don’t think that.  I think the blues are everywhere.  The blues are hard times, and everybody had hard times in those days when the blues were popular.  Even in the big cities, they had some struggle in their lives: a bad relationship with a woman, or growing up in a house with coal and no electricity.  Everyone had their own hard times and struggles.

“The Mississippi Delta just has it’s own style of blues.  Just like Chicago has style of blues.”

Earnest Guitar Roy and Willie Farmer.

And how did he find himself working with the Music Maker Foundation?

“Someone reached out to me and left me a message on my Facebook page,” Earnest said. “And it sounded so sincere, that I thought I better pay attention.  It said that Music Maker wanted to work with me to release my music.

“But before then, in 2002 if I recollect right, I had a little hard time and I was told that Music Maker helped struggling musicians.  So I contacted them, and I talked with Denise (Duffy).  She asked me for a YouTube video, which I sent to her, and the next day, they payed my rent; I was only a month behind, but they paid it up for three months.  I’ll always remember that.”

Music Maker Foundation’s Executive Director Tim Duffy recently visited Earnest in Mississippi, a visit that Earnest recalls fondly.

“We had a lot of good times.  We had breakfast together everyday.  We hung out at my house and chopped together on a couple of my guitars. It was a wonderful visit.”

Earnest will be the first artist recorded at the new Music Maker Studio in Fountain, NC.

“I’m excited,” Roy says.  “I’m excited because I get the chance to lead the way.  I hope I can help start a new chapter of Music Maker’s history.  And I hope the music I record in the studio really says who I am as a musician and a bluesman.”

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