Self-taught pianist Wilbert Ellis played his Blues around Birmingham AL before he was drafted in 1939. He showed up on the Blues scene in New York after WWII, where he played the clubs with many Blues players as they passed through town. ‘Big Chief’ recorded with Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee for Capitol but seems to have slipped from sight after 1952. He emerged twenty years later, running a liquor store in Washington DC and playing in the local clubs. He formed a band, The Barrelhouse Rockers, which appeared on the Blues Festival circuit in the mid-70s, and featured Cephas and Wiggins on guitar and harp. The ‘Big Chief’ also recorded for Trix Records with Tarheel Slim, when they explored their shared Southern Blues roots.

Old school piano Blues from the Big Chief;

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