“Country blues” is Leroy’s long awaited third album. It contains several of Leroy’s original blues songs and a selection of blues and gospel themes learned first hand from the legendary bluesmen who befriended him over the years. Pierson’s unique finger picked guitar style is characterized by and aggressive rhythmic approach, blending rude bass string snaps and dynamic damping with stinging slide runs and fluid melodic leads played without picks on his vintage Style-O National steel guitar or his modern National Resolectric. His arrangements of song chestnuts like “Closer Walk with Thee” and “Cocaine Blues” mark him as one of this era’s finest interpreters of the tradition. Leroy is joined on several tracks by his long-time friend and musical partner, guitarist Ken MacSwan. Leroy and Ken dedicate this album to the late “Reverend” Craig Spellmeyer, a superb drummer and loyal friend and brother.
Leroy Jodie Pierson was born in 1947 and raised in St. Louis, Missouri where he still resides with his wife, Sheila, and their one-eyed cat, Topeka Slim. His first musical influence was his father, Marvin Leroy Pierson, a student of legendary fiddler, Jesse Ashlock, who played fiddle and bass in the 1930s with Oklahoma based Western Swing groups. Marvin gave up his musical career circa 1940, but remained an ardent fan who loved to share his passion with his son. Leroy began picking guitar in his mid-teens, inspired by recordings of country blues artists like Mississippi John Hurt, Brownie McGhee, Lightnin’ Hopkins and Son House. In 1963, he began a long association with legendary St. Louis bluesman, Henry Townsend who was generous with guitar pointers and with his vast memory of St. Louis’ rich blues history. Over the next decade, Leroy’s passion for the blues led him to friendships with many of the genre’s master musicians. He received guitar instruction from Fred McDowell, Johnny Shines, Mance Lipscomb, Rev. Robert Wilkins, Brownie McGhee, Jesse Thomas and John Jackson. He has performed with Henry Townsend, Son House, Fred McDowell, Arthur Crudup, Yank Rachell, Johnny Shines, Albert King and Rockin’ Dopsie.
Leroy has been a mainstay of the St. Louis music scene since 1970, performing over the years at almost every venue in the city, notably holding down Saturday night at the Broadway Oyster Bar throughout the 1980s, and later playing weekly at St. Louis’ premier blues venue, BB’s Jazz Blues and Soups. In addition, he has performed at festivals throughout the United States and toured in Jamaica playing 56 shows sponsored by the National Council of Traditional Arts. Leroy also toured extensively in the Middle East and Africa with the sponsorship of the United States Information Agency.