Wednesday, January 28, 2015

"Portrait of a Delta Bluesman" - Pinetop Perkins

This is the 3rd time in the past 5 years that I have posted something about Pinetop Perkins, the iconic jazz/blues pianist. He was still playing up until his death in 2011 at age 98.  Born July 7, 1913 he had been performing since 1927. At that time he played guitar, but he felt as if he were drowned out by the piano player. So, he took up the piano and a legend was born. The truth is that he hurt his arm in the 1940’s and the piano was easier on him.

This album is kind of like a personal story, with Joe Willie “Pinetop” telling stories about some of the wilder adventures on the road back in the 1930’s. The Chimney tale and the John Lee Hooker story are the two best. His wit and sense of humor were still intact until his passing.

In 1969 he was the replacement for Otis Spann in Muddy Waters Band. He was with Muddy for 12 long years; which sounds like the title for a great blues song. One of the most amazing things about Pinetop Perkins is that he did not begin to perform as a solo artist until he was in his eighties. And then he released an album per year for the next 15 years! He was even nominated for a Grammy in 1997; 2000 and again in 2005. That has to be some sort of record; to be nominated at age 92!

If you have never listened to Pinetop Perkins this album is one of the best ways to become familiar with both the man and his music. You will be enchanted by every word and note. Just look at those weathered hands on the cover. The leathery, worn skin tells it all.

Note: The photo above was taken in 2010 when Pinetop was performing in Spain. He was 97 at the time.

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