Daddy Stovepipe is best known for being one of the first men to record a Blues song. His first record, where he sang and accompanied himself on guitar and harp, was not a hit when it was released in 1924, but it was a significant milestone in the history of the Blues. Born in 1867…

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While John Lee ‘Sonny Boy’ Williamson was the undoubted King of the Chicago harp players in the 40s, Jazz Gillum was the big noise there many years before him. As part of Lester Melrose‘s stable of session musicians, Jazz performed on hundreds of ARC and Bluebird recordings, and his long partnership with Big Bill Broonzy…

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Big Daddy Kinsey played a range of Blues that told of his Delta roots and the Golden Age of Chicago Blues, and with the wider influences of his sons in The Kinsey Report, included funky rock and reggae in an act that appealed to Blues fans all over the world. Lester Kinsey of Pleasant Grove…

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Charles Edwards played his harp around Chicago for 25 years, backing veteran players like Johnny Young and ‘Smokey’ Smothers, and spent two years in Jimmy Rogers band. Leaving behind his birthplace in Tuscaloosa AL and his given name of Henry Lee Bester, Charles moved to Chicago in 1949. His harp playing owed something to his…

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Paul Jones was one of the graduates of the Ealing Blues Club who fuelled the British Blues Boom in the early 60s. With pop-star looks he took to the West-End stage, putting his Blues harp away and spending a decade as a leading man, until he re-emerged as the frontman of The Blues Band in…

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On any Sunday lunchtime in the 60s, Chicago‘s Maxwell Street market would echo to the sound of Big John Wrencher singing and playing his harp. Trade was always brisk, and ‘One Arm John’ loved to play for his neighbours, dancing, clowning and showboating all over the street. He continued his ‘residency’ for the rest of…

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Noah Lewis was a Memphis harp maestro whose stylish playing, showmanship and sheer volume set the standard for harp players during the Memphis Jug Band craze of the late 20s. Noah came to Memphis from Henning TN as a teenager accompanied by another boy, singer/guitarist Ashley Thompson. They met banjo player Gus Cannon and the…

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Harp player Will Shade was the central character in The Memphis Jug Band, which was one of the best selling recording acts of the late 20s. Will was the leader and manager of the band, and his multi-instrumental talents meant he could invite a wide range of guests into his group. Charlie Burse, Furry Lewis,…

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Charlie Musselwhite and Paul Butterfield were the two white kids who took Chicago Blues across the colour line to a new younger generation. The authentic sound of wailing amplified Blues harp, as developed by Little Walter and Sonny Boy II, gave a focus to their self-named Blues bands and showed that this music is relevant…

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This Georgia-born singer and harp player had a wild, animated style with whoops and shrieks borrowed from Sonny Terry. Someone said he played harp like he was falling off a cliff! Buster was well into his forties when Fire Records brought him to New York to record ‘Fanny Mae’ in 1960. It was a big…

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