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Mississippi Fred McDowell and Guitar Wizards!

What does Mississippi have to do with steak bones? No, we’re not talking springtime cook outs here--this is Time For The Blues not "Cookin’ With Henry". This week (3/25/12) we’ll feature an influential guitar master with a cool nickname and also more guitar wizards than you can shake a Stratocaster at. Bad grammar but great music, so find out what’s up our sleeve this week.

Things have been kind of busy around Time For The Blues World Headquarters. While Henry has been attending to a myriad of radio business, I was left alone to clean up some of the back rooms. That’s where I dug out a couple of boxes of misplaced CDs, a couple of which have found their way into this week’s show.

We spend a lot of our time focusing on the electrified Chicago sound that sometimes we neglect some of the other great music in our repertoire. Like, for example, our feature this week on Mississippi Fred McDowell.  Born in 1904 in – you guessed it, Tennessee – McDowell learned to play the slide guitar from his uncle, first playing slide with a pocket knife and later, most famously, with a steak bone. He then tried to play with a ham sandwich, but the bread kept crumbling up and the mustard got into his finger calluses. Paula Dean recommended he use butter, but that caused his strings to get fatter…

Okay, enough with the food jokes. Mississippi Fred McDowell eventually went on to play with a regular glass slide for a sweet sound and became recognized as one of THE masters of the slide. How good was he? One of his hand-selected pupils was Bonnie Raitt who went on to achieve fame, fortune and a shelf full of Grammys. He was also a big influence on the Rolling Stones,who recorded McDowell’s “You Gotta Move” on their 1971 album Sticky Fingers.

McDowell was first recorded by folk collector Alan Lomax in the late ‘50’s and became a hit on the festival circuit. Records soon followed including the seminal “I Do Not Play No Rock ‘n’ Roll” which features a couple of sides we’re playing. One more side we'll play came later, recorded about a year before Mississippi Fred passed away – a hero to a new generation of blues and rock artists alike.

We'll also highlight some other amazing guitar wizards. No Harry Potters here--we’ve got genuine, sling from the hip musical geniuses coming your way. By request we'll have a little Johnny Winter (see, we do respond to mail and phone calls), Jimmy Dawkins and sides from Fleetwood Mac and T-Bone Walker (continuing our steak theme).

But wait, there’s more…(sorry, I always wanted to write that in one of these blogs). We’ll spin some new music from one of our favorites, Rod Piazza and the Mighty Flyers as well as a selection from a guy we didn’t know before named Chris Harper. He’s got a good Chicago Sound we think you’ll enjoy. If that wasn’t enough, we’ll hear old-school sound from Frank Morey, as well as swing blues from Brad Vickers and His Vestapolitans and a great side from the late fabulous harp player William Clarke.

So, if you need an excuse to stay up late on a Saturday night, we’re offering to write you an excuse note. Stick around and listen to some great music and bad jokes and you’ll be glad you did – we’ll be glad you did. Because after the show we’re going to try to figure out what other foods can be used to play the guitar…

Time for the Blues with John Porter and Henry Cook airs Sundays at 1:00 AM.  Shout back some artists we can play for you!