Roy Bookbinder, the outstanding acoustic guitarist and singer who calls his music "hillbilly blues," is a classic Travelin' Man, an itinerant musician with a distinctly modern twist: He travels to his 200 concerts a year in style via a 24-foot Airstream motor home.
"I've lived in motor homes now for eight years," Bookbinder says. "Everything I own is here. It's very important not to call it a 'van.' 'Trailer home' is wrong, too. So's 'camper,' that's very degrading. The difference in payments between a camper and a motor coach is incredible."
Bookbinder, following up a successful Folkore Society concert several months ago with a Tuesday engagement at the Birchmere, plays light-hearted music deeply rooted in traditional southern styles prevalent 50 years ago--acoustic blues and ragtime. "Blues and folk music are words that hold back your career," he moans. " 'Hillbilly blues' gives it more of a direction."
The music he has championed, he points out, is "the roots of country music. In the early '20s, Jimmie Rodgers was a 'white blues singer'; next was Hank Williams, a 'white blues singer.' And next was Elvis Presley, who did the same thing a third time. It gave white people an avenue to listen to black music. Without the blues background, those three artists would have been just like anybody else, instead of standouts."