Yesterday’s Blues

Buddy Moss

By Doyle M. Pace, originally published in the May 1994 Blues News With the focus so often on the Mississippi Delta area as the “cradle of the blues,” other places where the blues were nurtured are sometimes slighted.  One such place is Atlanta, Georgia.  In the years prior to World War I, its big city…

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Johnny Shines

By Doyle M. Pace, originally published in the FMarch 1994 Blues News Johnny Shines was a highly gifted guitar player and a literate and poetic composer of blues lyrics.  He was, as well, one of our greatest bluesmen.  However, through unfortunate circumstances, he never attained the success and fame of his contemporary, Muddy Waters, or his…

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Professor Longhair

By Doyle M. Pace, originally published in the February 1994 Blues News In October of 1993, New Orleans premier music club, Tipitina’s, officially changed its name to Professor Longhair’s Tipitina to honor the legendary piano player, singer, and composer who made the club his home base for a number of years before his death.  This tribute…

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Speckled Red & the Dirty Dozens

By Doyle M. Pace, originally published in the April 1994 Blues News “Playing at the Dozens” or “Putting in the Dozens” is a folk game in which two or more participants hurl insults and boasts at one another.  These highly imaginative and metaphorical comments are invariably obscene, frequently pornographic, and always aim to disparage an…

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Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton

By Doyle M. Pace, originally published in the February 1995 Blues News In 1952, Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton recorded a robust and raunchy number with a lot of innuendo and double entendre about a fed-up female who is telling a no-account, libidinous sporting man to “hit the road:” “You ain’t nuthin’ but a “Hound…

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Blind Willie Johnson

By Doyle M. Pace, originally published in the May 1998 Blues News The Rev. Willie Johnson was a sanctified and holy man who played and sang gospel songs to bring edification and salvation to any lost souls who might hear him. No doubt he would be galled and scandalized if he had lived to see…

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Mississippi John Hurt

By Doyle M. Pace, originally published in the Jan. 1996 Blues News A tiny gnome of a man with the countenance of an angel took the stage at the 1963 Newport Folk Festival and freaked out the rowdy audience (of mostly young white people) with his rendition of old-timey songster ballads and Mississippi folk blues…

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Sam “Lightnin'” Hopkins

By Doyle M. Pace, originally published in the April 1990 Blues News The Last of the Old Country Bluesmen Sam “Lightnin’” Hopkins was a bluesman who carried on the old country cotton-field style of the early Texas blues.  In fact, blues historian Samuel Charters has called Hopkins the last of the old country bluesmen.  Hopkins…

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Jesse “Lone Cat” Fuller

By Doyle M. Pace, originally published in the December 1996 Blues News “I got the blues from my baby, Left me by the San Francisco Bay. Ocean liner took her so far away.” Anyone who was of the age of awareness in the I 960’s remembers San Francisco Bay Blues, an anthem of folk singers, but did…

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Sleepy John Estes

By Doyle Pace, originally published in the November 1995 Blues News When the documentary filmmaker David Blumenthal rediscovered Sleepy John Estes in 1962, the former blues great was destitute and living in a tumbled down shack in the middle of a cotton field outside the town of Brownsville, Tennessee.  This was where his musical career…

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