Wednesday, February 8, 2017

T-Model Ford; The Taildragger

James Lewis Carter Ford (probably June 24, 1923[1] – July 16, 2013) was an American blues musician, using the name T-Model Ford. Unable to remember his exact date of birth, he began his musical career in his early 70s, and continuously recorded for the Fat Possum label, then switched to Alive Naturalsound Records. His musical style combined the rawness of Delta blues with Chicago blues and juke joint blues styles.Ford was born in Forest, Mississippi, between 1921 and 1925. Researchers Bob Eagle and Eric LeBlanc indicate June 24, 1923,though at the time of his death his record company gave his age as 94, suggesting a birth in 1918 or 1919. Starting with an abusive father who had permanently injured him at eleven, Ford lived his entire life in a distressed and violent environment, towards which he was quite indifferent.Ford, an illiterate, worked in various blue collar jobs as early as his preteen years, such as plowing fields, working at a sawmill, and later in life becoming a lumber company foreman and then a truck driver. At this time, Ford was sentenced to ten years on a chain gang for murder. Allegedly, Ford was able to reduce his sentence to two years.[6] He spent many of his years following his release in conflicts with law enforcement. Ford lived in Greenville, Mississippi and for a time wrote an advice column for Arthur magazine. Reportedly, he had twenty six children. Ford took up the guitar when his fifth wife left him and gave him a guitar as a leaving present. Ford trained himself without being able to read music or guitar tabs. Hodgkinson observed that Ford could not explain his technique. He simply worked out a way of playing that sounded like the guitarists he admired — Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf.incorrigibly old-school blues guitarist and singer who came to the notice of white blues enthusiasts in the 1990s, in the wake of fellow Mississippian musicians RL Burnside and Junior Kimbrough. Promoted, like them, by the Fat Possum record label, he spent his later years captivating audiences, both at home and abroad, with his seemingly random storytelling and incessantly rhythmic guitar playing. "He plays the north Mississippi hill-country hypnotic boogie-groove like nobody else on earth," commented the Memphis musician Jim Dickinson, who produced Ford's album Bad Man (2002). "His music is not a complaint of self-pity, but a celebration of life … Not a relic of the past or a remnant of vanishing culture, T-Model Ford takes off and flies – the existential hero."Ford toured juke joints and other venues, for a while opening for Buddy Guy. In 1995, he was discovered by Matthew Johnson of Fat Possum Records, under which he released five albums from 1997 to 2008. In 1997 T-Model Ford was featured in a 26-minute documentary JUKE Directed by Mary Flannery and produced by Yellow Cat Productions. T-Model appeared along with Farmer John and John Horton. Since 2008, Ford worked with the Seattle-based band, GravelRoad. The project began as a single event, with Ford needing assistance to play the Deep Blues Festival in Minnesota in July 2008. GravelRoad, longtime fans of Ford and performers already scheduled for the festival, agreed to provide support for a ten-show United States tour for Ford through July.He suffered a stroke in early 2010, but despite difficulty with right-hand mobility, managed to complete a successful tour with GravelRoad. This tour concluded with an appearance at Pickathon Festival. Ford and GravelRoad opened the third day of the All Tomorrow's Parties Festival, in New York over Labor Day weekend, 2010, curated by American independent film-maker Jim Jarmusch. GravelRoad backed Ford on his 2010 and 2011 albums, The Ladies Man and Taledragger, both released by Alive Naturalsound Records.On July 16, 2013, Fat Possum announced that Ford died at home in Greenville of respiratory failure after a prolonged illness.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Leo "Bud" Welch

Leo "Bud" Welch (born 1932), is an American gospel blues musician and guitarist. He started his music career, in 2014, with the release of, Sabougla Voices, that was released by Big Legal Mess Records. His subsequent studio album, I Don't Prefer No Blues, was released in 2015, from Big Legal Mess Records.Welch was born on the 22nd of March 1932 in the town of Sabougla, Mississippi. Bud picked up a guitar for the first time in 1945. Bud and a cousin would sneak and play the guitar while the actual owner of the guitar (Bud’s older cousin R.C. Welch) was away working. As he became confident in his ability to play guitar, Bud was caught red handed by the owner of the guitar, playing the forbidden to touch instrument. Bud’s older cousin was so impressed with his playing that he gave Bud free reign to continue playing the guitar. By 1947 at age 15, Bud could play well enough to perform publically and garnered the blessing of many elder guitar players. Bud was offered an audition by BB King but could not afford the trip to Memphis. Bud played the Blues continuously until 1975, at that time he converted to playing mostly Gospel, with the Sabougla Voices, which consisted of his sister and a sister-in-law. Bud also played with the Skuna Valley Male Chorus. Bud earned his living by carrying a chain saw up and down the hills and hollows of North Mississippi, logging for 35 years. Leo does not believe that Blues is the devil’s music but a way of expressing the highs and lows of one’s life through song. Bud had played his guitar for close family and friends for over 65 years and remained under the radar, He was a lumberjack, for 30 years, when he was learning his craft of musicianship in the Mississippi Delta, where he learned to play various instruments from the fiddle, harmonica, and guitar.His music recording career started in 2014, with the studio album release, Sabougla Voices, on January 6, 2014, from Big Legal Mess Records. The subsequent album, I Don't Prefer No Blues, was released by Big Legal Mess Records, on March 24, 2015.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Robert Pete Williams

Robert Pete Williams (March 14, 1914 – December 31, 1980)[1] was an American Louisiana blues musician. His music characteristically employed unconventional structures and guitar tunings, and his songs are often about the time he served in prison.His song "I've Grown So Ugly" has been covered by Captain Beefheart, on his album Safe as Milk (1967), and by The Black Keys, on Rubber Factory (2004). Williams was born in Zachary, Louisiana, to a family of sharecroppers. He had no formal schooling,[1] and spent his childhood picking cotton and cutting sugar cane. In 1928, he moved to Baton Rouge, Louisiana and worked in a lumberyard. At the age of 20, Williams fashioned a crude guitar by attaching five copper strings to a cigar box, and soon after bought a cheap, mass-produced one. Williams was taught by Frank and Robert Metty, and was at first chiefly influenced by Peetie Wheatstraw and Blind Lemon Jefferson. He began to play for small events such as Church gatherings, fish fries, suppers, and dances. From the 1930s to the 1950s, Williams played music and continued to work in the lumberyards of Baton Rouge.He was discovered by ethnomusicologists Dr Harry Oster and Richard Allen in Louisiana State Penitentiary, where he was serving a life sentence for fatally shooting a man in a nightclub in 1956, an act which he claimed was in self-defense.Oster and Allen recorded Williams performing several of his songs about prison life, and pleaded for him to be pardoned. Under pressure from Oster, the parole board issued a pardon, and commuted his sentence to 12 years. In December 1958, he was released into 'servitude parole', which required 80 hours of labor per week on a Denham Springs farm without due compensation, and only room and board provided. This parole prevented him from working in music, though he was able to occasionally play with Butch Cage and Willie B. Thomas at Thomas's home in Zachary. By this time, Williams' music was becoming popular, and he played at the 1964 Newport Folk Festival.By 1965, he was able to tour the country, traveling to Los Angeles, Massachusetts, Chicago and Berkeley, California. In 1966 he also toured Europe. In 1968 he settled in Maringouin, west of Baton Rouge and began to work outside of music. In 1970, Williams began to perform once again, touring blues and folk festivals throughout the United States and Europe. His music has appeared in several films notably, the Roots of American Music; Country and Urban Music (1971); Out of the Blacks into the Blues (1972) and Blues Under the Skin (1972) the last two being French-made films. His most popular recordings included "Prisoner's Talking Blues" and "Pardon Denied Again". Williams has been inducted into the Louisiana Blues Hall of Fame. In 2014, he was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame. Williams reduced his activities by the late 1970s, and died in Rosedale, Louisiana on December 31, 1980.