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I started a quest to find terrific blues music and incredible musicianship when I was just a little kid. I also have a tremendous appreciation of fine musical instruments and equipment. One of my greatest joys all of my life was sharing my finds with my friends. I'm now publishing my journey. I hope that you come along!

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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

"Mr. Johnnie" Billington

Johnnie "Mr. Johnnie" Billington is the primary teacher and artistic director of the DBEP. A master guitar player & singer, he returned to his Delta roots twenty years ago after playing with Chicago Blues greats Muddy Waters, Elmore James, and Earl Hooker (also natives of the Delta). He wanted to be closer to his aging mother and family, and dedicated himself to teaching children. An automobile mechanic by day, he used to open his shop at night apprenticing neighborhood children. He was awarded Master Folk Artist Status by the Mississippi Arts Commission (MAC) in 1993, and in 1995 received the W.C. Handy "Keeping the Blues Alive in Education." In 1999, Mr. Johnnie was honored with a Governor's Award by the State of Mississippi.

It is not by coincidence that the other three musicians (Michael James "Dr. Mike," Harvell Thomas and Dione Thomas) were themselves once apprentices of Mr. Johnnie's. He has instilled in them not only the Delta Blues tradition, but also the ability to teach others. Mr. Johnnie is responsible for quality control in the teaching, and the authenticity of the music tradition being taught.
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