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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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Showing posts with label M for Mississippi. Show all posts
Showing posts with label M for Mississippi. Show all posts

Monday, February 13, 2012

So Long Baby Goodbye - Sammy Lewis and Willie Johnson

The productive and all too brief meeting between vocalist / harmonica player Sammy Lewis and guitarist Willie Johnson produced one of the best blues issued by Sun Records. In the eyes of many collectors and blues fans - including this writer - there is no finer blues side ever cut on Sun than "I Feel So Worried" (Sun 218). Even rockabilly fans who merely tolerate Sun blues are often fond of this record, owing in no small way to Willie Johnson's guitar style. Recorded on March 28, 1955, it was the only time that Lewis and Johnson recorded together. The flipside, So Long Baby Goodbye" is more conventional R&B. The third song from this session, "Gonna Leave You Baby", was obviously not issued by Sam Phillips because the harmonica and guitar are terribly out of tune with each other. Willie Johnson, who was born in Senatobia, Mississippi, on March 24, 1923, played with Howlin' Wolf as far back as 1942. He played on a number of Sun sessions before recording with Lewis. Soon afterwards he headed for Chicago to rejoin Wolf's band where he remained until 1961. Sammy Lewis continued working in Memphis after Johnson moved north, working with an assortment of bands. Lewis was influenced by Sonny Boy Williamson and Little Walter on his Sun recordings. He went on to cut sides for the West Memphis 8th Street label and was thought to have died until he was rediscovered in 1970, still playing in West Memphis.
Ref "This Is My Story"
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Saturday, October 15, 2011

What A Way It Used To Be - Pat Thomas

Pat Thomas from Leland, Missisippi. That's on Highway 61 south of Clarksdale between Greenville and Indianola. His dad was the late artist/musician James "Son" Thomas. Pat, an artist/musician like his father, has a soulful high lonesome voice that sails somewhere near Skip James at times and falls to John Lee Hooker's earth at others. Mr. Thomas has a fine, thoughtful, economic, and powerful acoustic guitar sound (though he plays electric on two tracks on His Father's Son). Although most of Pat's repertoire comes from songs he heard his father play, he makes each song his own. Songs on this new set range from the haunting Cairo Blues to the joyous instrumental romp of Leland's Burning Down to the moving Rainbow At Midnight. Recorded by Bill Abel whose recordings somehow bring you right in to the room this is a Must Own recording by Broke and Hungry Records.
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Sad Streets of Clarksdale - Foster "Mr Tater" Wiley

Foster Wiley, a.k.a. ‘Mr. Tater,’ legendary street musician of Clarksdale, Mississippi, passed away on Friday, September 10th. According to friend John Ruskey, Wiley was 63 years old.

Upon hearing of Mr. Tater’s failing health, Music Maker friend Will Dawson volunteered at the Music Maker office to produce CDs for Mr. Tater. Will later informed the Music Maker Foundation that Tater received the CDs prior to his passing, and was truly touched. “The money from CD sales are now being used to cover funeral expenses,” said the the Music Maker Foundation press release. Mr. Tater, an artist who impacted many, will truly be missed.

Affectionately called “Mr. Tater” by his legion of fans, Foster Wiley was perhaps best known for his daily street performances in downtown Clarksdale as well as his late night jams at local venues like Ground Zero Blues Club, Red’s Lounge and Club 2000.

Though plagued by various physical and environmental handicaps, Wiley was rarely without a smile and always in search of his next gig or recording opportunity. As a result, his name or image often appeared in both national and international media circles, including such iconic news outlets as The New York Times, BBC, CNN, CBS and NPR. He was also a regular act at area blues festivals and featured in a handful of video documentaries.

Musicians Jimbo Mathus, Bill Abel, Will Dawson and others helped Wiley record over a dozen CDs, including the recently released “Best of Mr. Tater” on the appropriately (but coincidentally) named Music Maker label.

In the 2008 blues documentary “M for Mississippi,” the man they called Mr. Tater proudly proclaimed, “I never sing the same song twice.” He was laid to rest at Pilgrim’s Rest Cemetery in Clarksdale on Tuesday, September 14th.
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Sittin on Top of the World - Cadillac John Nolden, Bill Abel, Bert Deivert

“Cadillac” John Nolden is a blues harmonica player, songwriter, and vocalist from Renova, Mississippi. He was born in Sunflower on April 12, 1927, one of ten children. The family worked on various plantations in the area, including one owned by the mayor of Sunflower, W.L. Patterson. Nolden, who emphasizes the value of hard work, picked and chopped cotton and plowed with mules, and recalls that his family often went to work before sunrise. As a young man he began driving a tractor on the L.E. Moore plantation near Minter City, and over the years worked in various jobs, including a brickyard in Indianola. His nickname derives from an old Cadillac he drove that continually backfired.

Nolden played blues together with his brother Jesse James Nolden, a guitarist, on the streets of Sunflower and occasionally at house parties and jukes. He was reluctant to play the latter because of the threat of violence. Jesse James later moved to Jackson, where he lives today. Other blues musicians who played on the streets of Sunflower included Riley King, then a resident of nearby Indianola, and Charlie Booker, a Sunflower native and Leland-based bluesman who recorded for Modern Records and Sun Records.

Nolden listened religiously to Sonny Boy Williamson II’s daily lunchtime radio show King Biscuit Time, over KFFA in Helena, Arkansas, as well as on Saturdays [Sonny Boy recorded a show in Belzoni that was broadcast later out of Greenville and Yazoo City; Charlie Booker also had a local radio show sponsored by a tire company.] Nolden saw many local performances by Sonny Boy’s band, and also has strong memories of Robert Nighthawk.

After his brother left the area and the Four Stars disbanded, Nolden stopped performing except for occasional solos at church. Around 1970 he was inspired to take up the blues again to help alleviate the pain he felt after his wife abruptly left him. “She even took the curtains from the windows,” he recalls. He bought a harmonica from the Simmons drug store in Cleveland and “went to hummin’ a little then... I just couldn’t hardly hold it back.”

During the ‘70s and ’80s Nolden performed some on the streets of Sunflower, but otherwise played mostly around the home. In the ‘90s he performed locally with a band that included guitarist Monroe Jones, and appeared under his own name at the Delta Blues Festival and the Sunflower River Blues & Gospel Festival. In 2000 Jones introduced Nolden to his current partner, guitarist Bill Abel from Belzoni. They have played regularly at venues in the area, as well as at the King Biscuit Blues Festival, the Sunflower River Blues & Gospel Festival, the Highway 61 Blues Festival, and the Yazoo Blues Festival. In 2000 they released the CD Crazy About You, which contains five originals from Nolden in a vintage style, and in 2005 they traveled to perform for a blues society in Pennsylvania
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Sunday, October 9, 2011

Terry "Harmonica" Bean

Terry began playing guitar and harmonica as a child, and eventually his father began featuring him at the home gatherings and taking him along to other house parties. Although Terry was a “natural,” he stopped playing around the time he was twelve because several of his brothers were jealous of the attention he received. Today his brother Jimmy plays bass in church and occasionally in Terry’s blues band, while brother Jerry Lee sings gospel as well as lead vocals in the Pontotoc-based Legends of the Blues.
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Take Your Hands off of Me - Robert "bilbo" Walker

Robert "Bilbo" Walker Jr. (born February 19, 1937) is a blues musician. who is known in the blues music world due to his "rock 'n' roll showmanship" and "flamboyant Chuck Berry imitations

Walker was born near Clarksdale, Mississippi. Walker Sr. was often referred to by his nickname, Bilbo, which was then passed onto to Walker Jr., who was also sometimes called Little Junior Bilbo. Walker began to explore music after his sister's boyfriend introduced him to Ike Turner. After spending 17 years in Chicago, Illinois with his friend David Porter, Walker moved to the area around Bakersfield, California and started a farm growing such commodities as watermelon and cotton. During this time, he continued to perform at local bars in the California area, as well as in Chicago and Clarksdale when on visits. He currently still resides in California.
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Sallie Mae - T-Model Ford

T-Model's credentials are impeccable; if anything he's over qualified. He was born James Lewis Carter Ford in Forrest, a small community in Scott County, Mississippi. T-Model thinks he's seventy-five but isn't sure. He was plowing a field behind a mule on his family's farm by age eleven, and in his early teens he secured a job at a local sawmill. He excelled and was later recruited by a foreman from a bigger lumber company in the Delta, near Greenville, and eventually got promoted to truck driver. During the time he spent driving and working in a log camp, T-Model ran into trouble, and was eventually sentenced to ten years on a chain-gang for murder. He lucked out and was released after serving two. He says, grinning, "I could really stomp some ass back then, stomp it good. I was a-sure-enough dangerous man." When asked how many times he'd been to jail, T-Model responded, "I don't know. How many?" He seemed to think it might be a trick question. Upon realizing it wasn't, he answered to the best of his ability. "Every Saturday night there for awhile." As disheartening as this is, it's also a refreshing reminder of how ridiculous the present image of a bluesman is. Nothing could be more twisted than the romanticized and picturesque old black man devoid of anger and rage happily strumming an acoustic guitar on the back porch of his shack "in that evening sun". T-Model couldn't be further from this fabricated image. At 3/4 of a century old and with a dislocated hip, hes still cussing, fighting, and outdrinking men a quarter his age. Spam to his friends,Tommy Lee Miles to the authorities, he has been T-Model's A-number-one drummer for the past eight years. T-Model and Spam are the only men still playing on Greenville's Nelson Street. Most of the audience has scattered due to violence from the crack trade, and with the exception of T-Model, the street that once boasted Booba Barnes and others is dead. On a typical night Spam and T-Model will arrive at the club and unpack T-Model's guitar and amp, and the bass drum and snare he allows Spam to use. When T-Model feels there are enough people, they start banging away in their own post-war Peavey-powered hill stomp. It's nothing unusual for T-Model to play eight hours a night. They keep going until no one's left standing. After his equipment's packed up T-Model will coat himself with Off and climb into his van to crash.
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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Louise - Wesley Jefferson

Bassist, vocalist, and bandleader Wesley Jefferson has been a stalwart of the Clarksdale blues scene since the mid-1960s. He was born in Roundaway in Coahoma County on March 23, 1944, the oldest boy of thirteen children. As a youth he picked and chopped cotton, plowed with mules and later with a tractor, and lived in extreme poverty.

He recalls being influenced by his grandfather, Claude Jefferson, who played guitar at his home in Clarksdale. He also furtively listened to records by “deep blues” artists at a juke joint run by his mother “way out in the field,” where they sold catfish and moonshine made by his stepfather. Local musicians who he saw playing at small venues in the country included the one-man-band “Popeye,” guitarist Ernest Roy—“the best guitarist I ever seen,” and the band led by Tutwiler’s Lee Kizart, who hauled his piano from gig to gig.

Jefferson first played blues on a diddley bow on the wall of his house, and was first able to buy a guitar after he moved to Memphis to work around age 18. He soon moved on to drums, and began playing in Memphis juke joints and house parties. After several years he returned to the Clarksdale region, where he found work as a mechanic on Hopson Plantation, a job he held for 22 years. He soon formed his first band, playing drums behind guitarist/vocalist David Porter and bassist “A.C.” at Smitty’s Red Top Lounge in Clarksdale. The band lasted for about three or four years, and Jefferson then formed a new band—now having switched to the bass—with guitarist J.C. Holmes, drummer C.V. Veal, and Veal’s wife Marian on vocals, a grouping that lasted seven or eight years.
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Jefferson died on July 22, 2009 from complications due to lung cancer.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Let me Love You Baby - Lightnin' Malcolm

Music has always been part of Lightnin’ Malcolm’s heart and soul. From the moment he discovered an old raggedy guitar w/ a couple of strings and cassette of Muddy Waters his life and the music world would change forever. Malcolm’s journey began near the railroad tracks in rural Southeast Missouri. For several years Malcolm traveled the world spreading his love for the blues. It wasn’t until Malcolm settled in North Mississippi that he had a musical epiphany. He was drawn to the hill country blues first made famous by Fred McDowell and later R.L. Burnside, Junior Kimbrough and Jessie Mae Hemphill.
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The music unites musicians and audience as they interact in a hypnotic dance with everybody rejoicing to the power and joy of the music we call the Blues!

Friday, August 26, 2011


Hanging out at the Delta Recording Services in Como, MS is ALWAYS an adventure.. Mr. Jimbo Mathus' studio is a gathering point for Artists World Wide. One Artist who doesn't have to travel a world away is our very own local North Mississippi Hill Country Blues Legend! ... Mr. R.L. Boyce.. He stopped by to say hello ..... and well ... here is R.L. ............

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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

I Can't Be Satisfied - Bill Abel

If you’ve ever been to one of the many blues festivals in the Mississippi Delta, you’re likely to have come across Bill Abel. If not booked as a solo performer on the festival or backing one of the great Delta blues musicians, he’s sure to be found playing in a nearby club or performing in a downtown street or park. This Belzoni, Mississippi native has been a fixture in the Delta and Hill Country for the past couple of decades. Growing up in Belzoni, he befriended a neighborhood welder and blues guitarist, Paul “Wine” Jones, who became his mentor. He’s frequently backed Big George Brock, Cadillac John Nolden, T-Model Ford and the late Paul ‘Wine’ Jones in performance and recorded with Big George Brock, Hubert Sumlin, Odell Harris, Sam Carr and Cadillac John Nolden, among many others.

In his latest release “One-Man Band,” Bill brings you into the world of the Delta blues as a solo act, playing as many instruments as possible in a “live” setting. He accomplishes this by playing both lead and rhythm on a multitude of guitar setups, switching between electric guitar, dobro, and his own homemade cigar-box guitars while playing hi-hat and snare with one foot and bass drum with another, all the while accompanying himself vocally with his signature coarse growl. The end result is a raw, undiluted adaptation of largely electric blues rooted deep in the Mississippi delta tradition.