Joseph A Rosen – Blues Hands

Photographer’s illuminating portraits document the genre from a fresh perspective.

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The face of a bluesman (or woman) can evoke a lifetime of stories, but Joseph Rosen’s beautifully crafted volume of photography sets out to prove that a musician’s mitts can be just as revealing.

His images capture the hands of nearly 100 blues artists – many of them, though not all, in mid-performance – with subjects ranging from young up-and-comers (Gary Clark Jr, Samantha Fish) to regional veterans (the Mississippi Delta’s Cadillac John Nolden and LC Ulmer) to recently- passed greats (BB King, Texas guitarist Smokin’ Joe Kubek). The beauty lies in the details: legendary pianist Eubie Blake’s impossibly slender, ancient fingers; Magic Slim’s missing fifth digit; the lit cigarette tucked under the low string of Cliff Belcher’s bass. It couldn’t have been easy to imbue such a diverse array of shots with both warmth and wit, but Rosen has done just that. For that, you’ve got to, er, hand it to him.