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A Christmas blues and more…

He was just trying to find his Santa Claus, but the landlady got mad and called the law….

He’s got the letter to show the judge….the boy’s just trying to find his Santa Claus.

There was a time when I listened to a tremendous amount of blues music. I was never into the power trios or any of the British material, but I seriously enjoyed some of the Chicago blues and a lot of the acoustic country blues material, and I gobbled up all I could find. Back in those days we didn’t have YouTube where you can find anything on a whim.

There were two Sonny Boy Williamsons (or is that Sonnys Boy Williamson as in Governors General?). There was John Lee Sonny Boy Williamson, the guy who recorded all those wonderful sides with Big Joe Williams, the king of the 9-string guitar. He was the first. Then along came this other guy, who had been known as “Rice” Miller. He went and appropriated the other Sonny Boy’s name.

Here’s the first Sonny Boy, with Big Joe Williams, playing Wild Cow Moan

To make things more complicated, he went around calling himself The Original Sonny Boy Williamson. The crazy thing is that the second guy (he’s usually referred to these days as Sonny Boy Williamson II) was at least as fantastic as the first guy. Sonny Boy II was a top rate harmonica player, and as well, he wrote some of the best blues lyrics out there.

Our Toronto blues band, Downchild took their name from one of Sonny Boy’s tunes, Mr. Downchild.

He also wrote Don’t Start Me Talkin’, a tune Bob Dylan once played live on the David Letterman show.

Don’t start me talkin’, I’ll tell everything I know….

 

Here’s a clip of Sonny Boy live, playing one of his most well-known numbers, Nine Below Zero….

Listen to him coax the blues out of his harmonica on that performance. No need for a lot of notes. Sonny Boy made the spaces between the notes count.

2 Comments

  1. To us today Sonny Boy II is the one most of us associate with the name. The first guy was killed in a robbery on Chicago’s South Side in 1948, a half block from his home. Sonny Boy II played up into the 60s and died in 1965

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