Rob Europe is a 24-year-old blues guitarist mesmerizing audiences wherever he appears.
Long Island's 2014 International Blues Challenge representative plays with an expertly executed Piedmont style upstaged only by a voice so soaked in soul it comes as no surprise that musical mastery runs in the young bluesician's family.
Europe is the great-grandson of Jazz Hall-of-Famer James Reese Europe of the Harlem Rattlers; ragtime music and the Clef Club Orchestra.
An ancestral connection gives context to how deeply this rising young musician – whose unique, gravel-laden vocals jibe perfectly with fingers that pluck notes as powerfully as they wield a slide – bleeds the blues, particulary the pre-war country variety.
His 'tier one' idols include the genre's oldest – Charlie Patton, Robert Johnson and Eddie James “Son” House – Artists he covers with so signature a stamp that judges who chose him to represent Long Island in this January's international competition often stopped Europe between songs to clarify whether he had just played them an original song.
“He made old originals his own,” one judge wrote on Europe's score card, noting a “hot” slide ability that captivated the audience. “Very authentic blues.”
Europe began studying guitar and cello at eight years old.