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McGaha, Loyd & Steve

Steve and Loyd
Steve and Loyd "Slick" McGaha


Loyd “Slick” McGaha epitomized the essence of a traditional performer and nicely encapsulated the traditions of South Carolina as well. Slick learned to play “bones,” a traditional rhythmic technique well-established in the South, from a local African American performer. In turn, he passed this love of music on to his son, Steve. Steve has become a highly regarded blues guitarist, learning to play, as many traditional musicians of his generation do, by copying adults, other regional blues musicians, and by listening to the radio. This intermingling of traditional and modern culture illustrates the dynamic nature of South Carolina folk music.

Both father and son synthesized the blending of South Carolina cultural traditions, in which African Americans and Euro-Americans share performance styles and adapt them to their own use. As folklorist Charles Joyner of Coastal Carolina University has noted, a blending between black and white traditions has characterized the state for almost four hundred years.

In addition to being a musician, Slick was also known as a walking archive of life working for the Easley Mill. While he performed regularly with his father, Steve also plays with the Weasel Creek String Band. Both men worked extensively with efforts to document and present traditional music in the South Carolina National Heritage Corridor. Loyd and Steve McGaha received the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award in 2003.

Audio   (View Transcript)

bullet icon Let's Get Together (01:12)

A Gary Davis standard. Steve on vocals and guitar with his father Slick on bones.

bullet icon Playing with a slide... (02:35)

Steve McGaha disussing the African American roots of playing guitar with a slide...

bullet icon By and By I'm Going to See the King (02:20)

A Blind Willy Johnson song. A baptist preacher and bluesman, Johnson is widely regarded as one of the best slide guitar players that ever lived. Here Steve and Slick play the song as Steve learned it from Georgia blues musician Reverend Pearlie Brown.