Portraits from our Past
Southwest Virginia Music

Leslie Riddle

Music: 1920's - 1940's

Lesley Riddle , known to his friends and family as "Esley," was an African-American bluesman, guitarist, and songwriter. After playing a tune for A. P. Carter of the Carter Family, in Kingsport, Tennessee, Esley was invited home to Maces Springs by A.P. This began a relationship between the two, with Esley living on-and-off for about five years at Maces Springs in Scott County, Virginia, while he traveled with A. P. on song-collecting trips. The Carter Family eventually recorded a number of adaptations of songs borrowed from Riddle including "Bear Creek Blues," "March Wings Goin'," "Blow My Blues Away" and "Lonesome For You."

When Riddle traveled with A. P., he acted as a human recorder by learning the songs and teaching them to Sara and Maybelle. Riddle's guitar work influenced the playing of Maybelle Carter who incorporated Riddle's blues lick into her style. Maybelle's guitar style became the famous "Carter Scratch."


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