Robert Johnson: Down at the Crossroads

I can’t think of a better subject on the eve of Halloween than Robert Johnson, the Mississippi blues guitarist who was said to have sold his soul to the Devil in exchange for learning to play guitar. It’s an old story. The myth that just won’t die. But how did this myth about a nefarious, midnight meeting at a Mississippi Crossroads between Johnson and Old Scratch that resulted in a contract, in which Johnson becomes a great guitar player and the Devil gets his soul, become the story that defined…

Jimmy “Duck” Holmes and Flamingo Funeral

I spent the day yesterday listening to Jimmy “Duck” Holmes. I just love the Bentonia Blues style. I was reworking a few of the stories in Flamingo Funeral and what better choice for background music? So I thought I’d do something a little different today. Following is a blog I wrote shortly after the book was released and I unexpectedly ended up talking to Jimmy “Duck” Holmes on the telephone. The blog explains how that happened. Following the blog, I have  included the scene from Flamingo Funeral that I used…

Tom Petty: The Soundtrack of Generations

There are a few artists that whenever you hear them you are taken back to a certain time in your life. They provide the soundtrack for the happy days, the not so happy days, the angry, pissed off, ain’t gonna take this shit anymore days. Tom Petty was that artist. It hurts to write was because he left a part of himself with us through his music that will always be present. His death last week was unexpected. A blow to those of us who loved his music. Tom Petty…

Elmore James: The King of Slide Guitar

What do you get when you take a broom handle and pair it with an empty lard can and and string some wire across it? The beginnings of a musical career that would influence slide guitarists for decades. Elmore James, born in Richland, MS, on January 27, 1918 taught himself to play bottle neck guitar on a homemade instrument. By fourteen, he was playing country suppers and juke joints around the Delta. Though he liked to stay close to home, he did travel with Robert Johnson, Howlin Wolf, and Sonny…

Big Mama Thornton: Everything Gonna Be Alright

  Today you are in for a treat. You may think you don’t know Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton, but you do. Big Mama was the first person to record Hound Dog years before Elvis Presley prettied it up and made it palpable for a white audience. Not only did she record it, she sold 2 million copies in the four years before it was recorded by Elvis and rocketed to fame in the mainstream listening audience. Elvis made millions off Hound Dog. Big Mama made only $500.00. Listen to…