Wendy Garrison

Slide Guitar, Oxford

Red Clay Hills

Wendy Garrison was born in Silver Spring, Maryland, where she was an 8th generation Marylander. She was the middle child of three girls and grew up in a post World War II subdivision where community life was centered around the local school. Wendy toolk piano lessons as a child, and her grandparents later gave the family a grand piano where she would practice her scales.

During her teens, Wendy was influenced by the folk movement and such artists as Peter, Paul and Mary. When she expressed an interest in learning to play guitar, her parents rented her a guitar, which she found very difficult to play. She later obtained an Espana brand guitar and took it on many Girl Scout trips and campu outs. At this time, she mostly played traditional music and folk songs.

After attending Lake Forest College in northern Chicago, Wendy moved to Mississippi in 1987. She quickly became interested in blues music and had a strong desire to learn to play blues guitar. After a visit to the Blues Archive on the University of Mississippi campus, Garrison befriended harmonica player and blues scholar Walter Liniger, who, at that time, was head researcher at the Blues Archive. For a $15 donation to the Blues Archive, Walter began to share various blues guitar styles with Wendy.

Wendy was most interested in slide guitar and began to concentrate on the work of Skip James, Charlie Patton and Robert Johnson. At the time, Walter was apprenticing with James "Son" Thomas (through a MAC grant), and Wendy was able to meet and play with him several times.

"When I think about it, I think the slide is very much like a voice," said Garrison. "And since I don't sing, that sound is halfway between an instrumetn and voice, and that was very appealing to me."

Garrison began gigging around Oxford in 1988 and hasn't stopped since. Her first band, High Water Mark, was a local favorite. She now plays solo as well as with the all-girl group, Maybelle's Lovers. In addition to regular gigs around the Oxford area, she has appeared at Ground Zero Blues Club in Clarksdale and the Holly Springs "Blues in the Alley". She was also a guest on the "Delta Sounds" radio show on KFFA Helena, Arkansas.

Wendy Garrison
Wendy Garrison plays slide guitar outside her home in Lafayette County.


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