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between a ballad and a blues

Between a Ballad and a Blues chronicles the life and work of African American Appalachian renaissance man Howard "Louie Bluie" Armstrong and his musical partner, Carl Martin and Ted Bogan. Together they formed one of the most famous string-band groups in the history of American music. As a group and as solo artists, Martin, Bogan and Armstrong toured the globe sharing string-band music with the world, planting the seed for other American music forms, including Country and Blues.

The play focuses on the character of Howard Armstrong who narrates the tale highlighted with stories and songs from both Bogan and Martin. The play spans Howard's lengthy seven decade musical career.

Howard William Taft Armstrong was born on March 4, 1909--the day William Howard Taft was inaugurated as the 27th President of the United States. As a child,  Armstrong also cultivated friendships with the multinational migrant workers who worked with his father at the local blast furnace. Through these friendships he learned to sing in at least seven languages--a skill that would serve him well in adulthood as he performed for diverse audiences all over the world.


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