Bluesman, teacher, barber, and storyteller Archie Edwards (1918-1998) opened the Alpha Tonsorial Palace barbershop here in 1959. Over the years it became a Saturday afternoon gathering place for aspiring musicians, young and old, African American and white.

Edwards was born in Union Hall, Virginia, where his father Roy Edwards was a farmer, sometime moonshiner, and player of country style blues and breakdown on the harmonica, slide guitar, and banjo. The home was a magnet for area musicians, and Edwards soon was playing for country houseparties. After serving in the U.S. Army during World War II and the Korean conflict, Edwards bought his barber shop in Washington. He worked as a security guard, cab driver, and barber while playing, writing, and recording the blues. The barbershop became renowned as a place where musicians of every level of expertise were welcome to perform for each other. He was a fixture at local live music venues and taught students of folklore at the University of Maryland.

After his death, friends established the Archie Edwards Blues Heritage Foundation in Edwards's barbershop as a living museum and cultural and educational center for the preservation of "Piedmont" style blues music and African American folk life. The barbershop was open Saturday afternoons for playing and listening and "passing on the blues." until 2008 when the building was sold. The Archie Edwards Blues Heritage Foundation now holds its Saturday afternoon jams at 4701 Queensbury Road in Riverdale, Maryland.


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