Terry Robb’s ‘Confessin’ My Dues’ is Full of Rough-Hewn Roots Music and Down-Home Barn-Burners

Blues is never far away from this fingerpicker
terry robb with guitar

With Confessin’ My Dues, fingerstyle guitarist Terry Robb (born in Canada but a long-time denizen of Oregon) crafts a thumbnail sketch of American roots music in flux. Call this picture “several shades of blues,” because Robb draws on his inexhaustible palette of blues-infused picking styles including rough-hewn folk, crackerjack country, and swampy R&B. 

Razor-wire Delta picking is prominent here, but it’s only one strand in this collection’s elastic DNA. Piedmont fingerstyle, bottleneck slide, and ragtime rhythms seamlessly conjoin with palm muting, hammer-ons, and pull-offs on “Butch Holler Stomp,” a tune that’s too damn fun to be so complex. A slinky acoustic jazz solo slips through the spaces of a funky crab-walking beat on the aptly named “It Might Get Sweaty,” one of several tunes where Robb is accompanied by standup bassist Dave Captein and drummer Gary Hobbs.


On “Three Times the Blues” a tangled cross-picked scrawl tethers slow and languorous strumming to metallic bursts from Robb’s resonator. The resonator returns, sashaying and panther-prowling through a thicket of slurred bent notes on “Still on 101.”  

Just when you’ve got Robb pinned down to a template of interlocking rough-hewn roots rhythms and virtuosic fills, he mixes it up with a cover of the American Primitive staple “Now Vestapol,” co-written by Robb’s former collaborator John Fahey. As fingerpicked crosscurrents eddy and whirl, Robb proves that he doesn’t always have to peel off rockabilly pyrotechnics or rip through down-home barn burners to leave listeners breathless. 

This article originally appeared in the November/December 2019 issue of Acoustic Guitar magazine.

Pat Moran
Pat Moran

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