catallaxy files

catallaxy in technical exile

End of weekend YouTube

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Some generous soul has just put more Sonny Boy Williamson performances on YouTube so I’m going to use the start of daylight saving time as an excuse to put up a second weekend YouTube. For your viewing pleasure below the fold, see Sonny Boy Williamson perform ‘Nine below zero’.

And for those interested in a little blues trivia I only just discovered tonight while perusing his Wikipedia entry that there were actually two Sonny Boy Williamsons and the one that I thought was THE Sonny Boy Williamson and who is certainly the more famous of the two allegedly fraudently stole his name off the first one. This is from the Wikipedia entry of the first Sonny Boy, the poor bugger that I didn’t even know existed until now:

    He was popular enough that by the 1940s, another blues harp player, Aleck/Alex “Rice” Miller, who was based in Helena, AR, began also using the name Sonny Boy Williamson. John Lee objected to this, though no legal action took place, possibly due to the facts that Miller did not release any records during Williamson’s lifetime, and also that Williamson played mainly around the Chicago area, and Miller seldom ventured beyond the Mississippi delta region …

    His legacy has been greatly overshadowed in the post-war blues era by the popularity of the musician who falsely assumed his name (who after Williamson’s death went on to record many popular blues songs for Chicago’s Checker Records label and others)

As for Sonny Boy No. 2, he sounds like quite a character, indeed the sort of character some of the more gung-ho libertarians around here would approve of:

Williamson was characterized by a hip-flask of whiskey, a pistol, a knife, a foul mouth, and a short temper. He had always worn fancier suits than he could afford, and his tour of Europe allowed him further embellishment, adding a finely tailored two-tone suit and a bowler hat to his unique, grey-goateed image.

Anyway just to clarify again, it’s Sonny Boy No.2 whose harp you’ll hear below the fold …


Written by Admin

October 29, 2006 at 9:47 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. Jason,

    Back in my undergraduate days I had a good friend Deano who grew up in Spokane, Washington. He had significant influence on my musical tastes, as he always had suggestions about who I should listen to in relation to something else I was listening to.

    Blues-harp-wise he turned me on to Sonny Boy Williamson (both), Little Walter, Sonny Terry, Paul Butterfield and Charlie Musslewhite.

    The first time I talked to Deano he was sitting on the lawn outside the Arts Faculty on enrollment day playing some blues harmonica to himself. In the ensuing friendship over the next few years, I taught him how to write expository essays and he took me on field trips all over the Tasmanian countryside in search of trout (I never did catch one). Deano was one of th best players I ever knew personally. He was also the first person I heard say that Country music is white man’s Blues. Last I heard he was in FNQ.

    If you’re ever down in Lorne we often have a Sunday afternoon session at the Swing Bridge Cafe if the weather is suitable. Come on by and bring your harmonicas!




    October 30, 2006 at 8:21 am

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