T Model FordT-Model Ford played a raw, primitive juke-joint boogie guitar with usually just a drummer for company, as he sang his songs of hard times, violence and bad women. An extremely late starter, T-Model was getting on towards 80 years old when he cut his first album, but his powerful and full-hearted renditions of classic Blues songs and his own ‘stream-of-consciousness’ compositions were always coloured in his own unique style.

James Lewis Carter Ford was born in Forest MS, some time in the early 20s into a dirt-poor family where life was a hard daily fight. Never given any schooling, James went to work in the fields and sawmills from a very early age, working as a foreman at a lumber company and then driving a truck. He was given ten years on the chain-gang for murder, and went back to his old life when he got out of jail. He reportedly has fathered 26 children and did not take up music until his fifth wife gave him a guitar as she left.

Already in his late 50s, he taught himself to play in the style of the men he admired, claiming Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters as influences. Almost two decades of plugging around the juke-joints eventually got him noticed in 1997 by Fat Possum Records, who had already discovered the music of RL Burnside and Junior Kimbrough in the previous few years. Although T-Model was brought up in the Delta and took some of his material from Delta players, his sound was straight out of the hill-country around Como.

Uncompromising sentiments on show in ‘I’m Insane’;

T-Model Ford Discography
A lifetime of hard experience is distilled into T-Model’s voice, and generations of Boogie Blues are crystalised into his insistent guitar. Frank Frost added some keyboards to the sparse, guitar and drums juke-joint sound as T-Model addresses the issues in his life with a power and conviction that tells you he lived the Blues every day of his life.

Pee Wee Get My Gun

Billed as Model-T Ford, his first album ‘Pee Wee, Get My Gun’ saw him thrashing out his one-chord boogies like ‘Where Have You Been’ and ‘I’m Insane’. Further offerings in the same vein saw Fat Possum release five albums in ten years before T-Model joined up with the band Gravel Road on the circuit and on albums like ‘Ladies Man’ and ‘Tale Dragger’. A stroke in 2012 hampered T-Model’s style, but he was still able to play The King Biscuit Blues Festival that year. Sadly, he passed away at home in Greenville MS in July 2013.