Thursday, July 2, 2009

Big Joe Williams

Between when he was born in 1903 and when he died in 1982, Big Joe with his big G-tuned nine-string guitar became one of the most famous legends of the early blues. He has often been characterized as the stereotypical peripatetic bluesman although that description is somewhat deceptive. That may infer that he was relying on luck or chance opportunities in his wandering to play his music but that would not be accurate. It doesn't account for the man's knack for the deal, his clever talent scouting for recording partners and his many social and business connections that made his recording career spread across the globe and across half a century.

In 1934 he was in St. Louis and made his first recordings and his now famous song "Baby Please Don't Go" for Bluebird Records.

Big Joe Williams' album for Delmark in 1958, Piney Woods Blues, (Delmark DD-602, was recorded in part at the home of St. Louis dobro and lap steel guitar master Bob Briedenbach. He recalled as a young boy coming home from the store with his mother and finding his older brother Paul, St Louis folk and bluegrass legend John Hartford and Bob Koester of Delmark recording the very large Joe Williams who was sitting on the family couch with guitar and whiskey bottle. 
The album was awarded in the National Blues Hall of Fame in 2008.

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