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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, May 16, 2012

Stoney Pony Blues -- James Deshay

James DeShay's first "guitar" was a one-string rig he concocted by nailing a piece of baling wire to a post and tightening it with a snuff box. From that single-string instrument he was able to play melodies and change pitch by mashing down on the wire. DeShay's earliest influences included the great Charlie Patton, Howlin' Wolf and Robert Jr. Lockwood. James was already an accomplished guitar player when he moved to St. Louis in the mid 40's, when he struck up a friendship with Little Walter Jacobs with whom he played around town. James often also worked with Robert Nighthawk and Big Joe Williams. By the early 1950's he had his own band, and by the 1960's his own tavern which he operated and played in. (The BBC shot footage of James there in 1976 for part of the 'Devil's Music' series) Sadly, James never recorded commercially, but his memory and music lives on in all his fans.
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  1. For what it's worth Mike Rowe interviewed DeShay at length in 1975 at the bar DeShay ran in Santa Fe. A transcript of this "They Know I’m Not Playing Anything But the Blues" was published in Blues Unlimited 143 (Autumn/Winter 1982 pps 32-36)

  2. Thanks Alan. References are always cool for people wanting further detail.