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................. ....Great Local Blues Artists of France


Cisco Herzhaft

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A major guitarist, a singer, an author-composer, Cisco Herzhaft is a pioneer of blues in France. He is regarded as one of the last authentic acoustic “blues pickers”.He has been a professional musician for 30 years, getting his inspiration from Big Bill Bronzy or Muddy Waters, playing with John Lee Hooker in the sixties. He has developed a very personal acoustic folk blues music, a perfect mix of crazy ragtime and simple blues.

The quality of his music, the originality of his composition, his well-known energy as well as his passion for music have made him one of the most acknowledged and wanted professionals of the blues scene.

His real authenticity is a delight !


Cisco started guitar when he was 17. However, he had a singular approach to the instrument as he was more interested by playing music than by just playing guitar. So it took only a few guitar lessons and a lot of practice (8 hours a day everyday for over a year) before the lady who taught the instrument told him he had no more to learn from her. A whole year passed. Though originally a brilliant pupil, Cisco was now too obsessed and rebellious to carry on studying if he could play music instead. After being expelled from two different colleges, he left his family and went on travelling around Europe with his guitar on his back. Cisco's travels took him to Wales where he met John James. The Welshman was immediately captivated by the young virtuoso and his playing and took him under his wing. With John James, Cisco not only learnt finger-picking techniques. He was also taught that this very style was especially difficult to master, as it required more than just authenticity and feel. In order to avoid becoming an academical musician, James told his student that the most important was to drown himself into to the reality of the Blues. Hence, the young Blues apprentice carried on with his journey. Inevitably, it took him where everything began, that is on the banks of the Mississippi River. There, were the genuine players, playing the Real Thing. Cisco drenched himself into the music and made a pivotal encounter: Fred Mc Dowell. Cisco learnt many tricks and techniques from him, including the bottleneck techniques that made him one of the best slide players to this day. When he returned to France, he became one of first French Bluesmen in the country. And even though his style was very innovative, he was broadcasted several times on the French national radio (he did the « ORTF Cabaret » 3 times). Then, he was quickly taken on board by Breton bard Glenmor for one of his tours. Cisco then recorded with famous French Ragtime Jazz combo « Les Haricots Rouges » for the Pathé Marconi label. The recording was followed up by a tour. It was during that tour that Cisco experienced another unexpected twist of fate: John Lee Hooker was opening for them. Both guitarists instantly digged each other and when John Lee offered him to be his second guitar on his tour, Cisco could only accept. These were hard times for Blues music and France was an especially hard place to be a Blues musician. Except for a few buffs, no one really seemed to care about this style of music. Cisco decided it was time to take a break. He went back studying, successfully graduating both in Psychology and Economics. During that period, he wrote numerous columns and created psycho-technical tests still in use today. He also got married, raising three beautiful children while still actively working for the recognition of the Blues with his brother Gérard Herzhaft, internationally linking their name with this music. Then, Cisco went back to Memphis and came face to face with Moses Vinson, one of the last ragtime and boogie-woogie piano pioneers still alive. The man was once well known in the 1930s, playing with Albert Ammons, a experienced Barrel Houses performer. Vinson, way into his nineties, still had to play for a few dimes in souvenirs shops as part of tourism folklore to make his living. Cisco decided it was time to get back on the saddle for the glory of the Blues. He flew straight back to France to record with his brother Gérard the first Herzhaft Blues album, a musical eulogy dedicated to all blues musicians in and out of History. It has been a long road to get to « Ghost Cities », Cisco's first solo album. All this time, he has been playing not only all over France but also abroad, from seedy dives to prestigious festivals such as Salaize, Tullins, the Grenoble Jazz festival, the Sam Blues festival, Cowansville, Maskinonge, The Carlton's Maximum Blues Fest. All these great musical events have been relishing Cisco's presence and performances. At one point, he was even dubbed « King of Ragtime Guitar » and considered as one of the true masters of finger-picking guitar in France, one of the last acoustic finger-pickers and one of the slide-guitar players in Europe. The album, entitled « Ghost Cities » could be seen as the coming of age of a man who's been playing hundred of concerts and experienced countless musical encounters in the last 30 years. Cisco is today staying true to himself, contributing to the Blues (and especially to the French Blues) in his own way.

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Local Blues Artists of Franceinducted into The Blues Hall of Fame ® includes: Cisco Herzhaft