James Williamson claimed to have been born in 1905, but as he performed at a British Blues Festival more than a century later, that date is in doubt, and 1910 is a more likely vintage. What is not in doubt was his skill at ripping out a Blues riff on his strangely tuned slide guitar. He was less of a stylist than his better known cousin, Elmore James, and this man’s work owed something to his early days wandering the juke-joints of the Mississippi Delta. James’s fine, passionate voice is best heard behind his solo guitar, where he could give free rein to his eccentric sense of time.
Homesick’s ‘Crossroads’ has a touch of ‘Elmore’ in there!
[weaver_youtube http://youtu.be/1JYLDcYWtdI id=videoid sd=0 percent=100 ratio=0.5625 center=1 rel=1 https=0 privacy=0]
‘Homesick James’ was a fixture on the Chicago scene throughout the 50s, and he played bass in his cousin Elmore’s band The Broomdusters, recording and touring with the band. ‘Homesick’ had some success as a solo artist with the Colt, Sue and USA labels in the early 60s, including the singles ‘Atomic H’, ‘Set a Date’ and ‘Crossroads’. In May 1963, Elmore died from a massive heart attack in Homesick’s apartment and from then onwards, that distinctive slide style featured more prominently in Homesick’s own work. The following year, Homesick cut his definitive album ‘Blues on the South Side’ for the Prestige label, with Sam Charters producing and Lafayette Leake on piano and Eddie ‘Playboy’ Taylor on guitar. When the Blues Festivals came around he gained a new audience and he toured Europe many times over the years. He recorded some fine albums in the 70s in the company of Snooky Pryor, Sunnyland Slim and Shakey Horton among many others. Homesick continued to work as a side-man, recording with Chicago legends like Willie Dixon, Koko Taylor and Roosevelt Sykes.
Homesick at Home! Made for a German TV documentary in 1980;
[weaver_youtube http://youtu.be/DBigzJnQWCk id=videoid sd=0 percent=100 ratio=0.5625 center=1 rel=1 https=0 privacy=0]
[stextbox id=”custom” caption=”Homesick James Discography” float=”true” align=”left” width=”300″]Originally recorded in 1964, this album shows Homesick at the peak of his powers and with great back-up.
BLUES ON THE SOUTH-SIDE
[/stextbox]Homesick’s later years saw him touring and recording regularly, and when he cut some sessions in New Orleans in April 2004, released as ‘My Home Ain’t Here’, he must have been well into his nineties. He continued to play and tour with the energy of a man decades younger, appearing in Europe a few months before ‘Homesick’ took the journey to his final abode, in December 2006.