Saturday, April 12, 2008

They Got Their Due

Two of the bluesmen pictured in the Margolin photos were honored with well deserved Grammys this year. Joe Willie "Pinetop" Perkins and Robert Jr Lockwood were recognized for recording Last Of The Great Mississippi Delta Bluesmen-Live In Dallas, which just happened to be at the Grenada Theater mentioned in the Little Charlie post. They were part of a blues concert produced by The Blue Shoe Project to promote the rich history of the music and keep it alive in the community. This was the first promotion by the Michael and Jeff Dyson, the founders of the non-profit organization, which makes the Grammy win all that much sweeter--and amazing.

The project's concert also included David "Honeyboy" Edwards and Henry Townsend to round out four active bluesmen still doing it passed the age of 90. The documented recording will go down as a testament to the longevity and vitality to both the music and the practioners that not only played it, but lived it. Sadly, both Robert Jr and Henry Townsend both passed away recently, but they were jamming the blues up until they were called home.

Each individual was backed by musicians they brought themselves or were chosen for their skills and knowledge of the music. Although time takes its toll on all of us, these guys didn't miss a step as far as pouring out the pure emotion that epitomizes the blues. Each of them resurrected songs that they wrote (in some cases decades ago-Townsend has recorded songs every decade since the '20s) or they covered tunes by the masters that were their mates or in Robert Jr's case step-father Robert Johnson. There is an emotional vibe in these recordings that had to have shown through at the Granada that night and thanks to The Blue Shoe Project, those of us that weren't there can feel it vicariously.

Of special interest to me are members of the band that back Pinetop up that night. Members of Diunna Greenleaf's "Blue Mercy" band, including herself, Jonn Richardson (guitar), Larry "Lownote" Johnson (bass), Jimmy Rose (drums) and Steve Schneider (harp) are musicians out of Houston that I've jammed with a time or two and listened to on many more occasions. Steve was tapped to fill in for the legendary Sam Myers of Anson Funderburgh's band who was very ill at the time--he passed on soon afterwards. They did a fine job indeed of helping Pinetop showcase himself. By the way, Pinetop also won a Grammy this year for his solo album Born in the Honey. Wow! Two Grammys! Shame is that all these guys have been productive their entire adult lives and had to wait until they reached their 90s for this level of recognition is ludicrous.

Kudos to the Dyson family for their dedication to keeping the music alive and sharing it with the rest of us and bringing wider appreciation and attention to those such as Pinetop, Henry, Robert Jr and Honeyboy. It is a fine, fine album. Anyway--

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