Captain Luke from Winston-Salem, North Carolina sings in a basso-profundo voice that conjures the deep blues soul of Reverend Gary Davis and the velvet of Dean Martin.
Captain Luke (Luther Mayer) was born in Greenville, South Carolina in 1926. He grew up on his grandparent's farm in nearby Clinton, where he followed the furrows barefoot behind the plow as his Uncle Jesse worked and sang to his mule. At fourteen he moved to Winston-Salem, N. C. with his mother and sister, where the exigencies of the situation carried him increasingly out of school and into the work force. Luke was blessed with a deep natural baritone and he began quite early to carry the lowparts in the local church. Later, accompanied by whatever instrumentation available, Luke used to travel in a wide circle from Winston (very often with Guitar Gabriel), performing in drink-houses, the social hubs of the African-American community in the North Carolina Piedmont.
Luke's music and art are rooted firmly in the African-American working class of the Carolina Piedmont and the mystique of his message refers continually to the blues experience. In his current collaboration with guitar wizard John Ferguson, Luke explores the broad ranges of the idiom, from its roots in the deep country all the way to its modern pop manifestations. From the primitive nursery rhyme Old Black Buck to more familiar sounds of Lightnin' Hopkins and Guitar Gabriel through the rhythm 'n' blues of Joe Simon to the sentimental songs of Billy Eckstein and last great master of the genre Brook Benton, Luke's rich dry baritone provides a panoramic tour of his musical influenceswith the easy grace of a young Dean Martin.