Muireann Bradley, a young musician based in rural Ireland, is just one of countless acoustic guitarists around the world to enter the woodshed with grit and determination during the lockdown phase of the Covid pandemic. But what sets her apart is that she was only 13 years old at the time and emerged with a repertoire of vintage blues and folk songs that she sings and plays with great authenticity and conviction, not to mention a prodigious fingerstyle technique.
Now 17, Bradley first became inspired to pick up the guitar by listening to Robert Johnson, Blind Blake, Reverend Gary Davis, and other blues pioneers with her musician father, in addition to hearing him picking around the house. Her earliest videos caught the attention of Josh Rosenthal of Tompkins Square Records, who recently released her debut album, I Kept These Old Blues. As the title suggests, it’s a collection of the standards that resonate most with her.
In this exclusive video, filmed at St Anne’s Church of Ireland churchyard, in Ballyshannon, Bradley performs three classic songs: Reverend Gary Davis’ version of “Candyman,” Blind Blake’s “Police Dog Blues,” and Memphis Minnie’s “When the Levee Breaks.” She also provides some insights into their history. To achieve a period-correct sound, she plays her Gibson LG-2 reissue; a Waterloo WL-S Deluxe, with its ladder bracing; and her personal favorite, an X-braced Waterloo WL-14X, whose V-shaped neck she finds feels the most like home.