Release Date: 06/10/03
An Original and Resourceful Musician/Poet
According to most accounts Blind Willie McTell was born in 1901, in Thomson, GA. He attended schools for the blind, locally and in New York. He read Braille and may have had some musical education. In the '20s he took up 12-string guitar. Others used it just for resonant strumming, but McTell had a complex picking technique. His first recordings were in 1927 for a Victor field trip. Most notable is Mama 'Taint Long Fo' Day, featuring superb slide work. The session yielded two releases. Neither was a hit but Victor recorded four more McTell sides when they returned to Atlanta a year later. Blind Willie's most famous song, Statesboro Blues, was recorded for Victor in 1928. His playing is masterly - his keening voice perfect for the material. Perhaps this is why the hitless McTell recorded so regularly. Willie also recorded for Columbia - as 'Blind Sammie'. Many bluesmen did this - but few so distinctively. Either Victor didn't recognize their artist or ignored any similarities. Would Victor willingly have missed Atlanta Strut, with its imitations of bass, cornet, mandolin and trombone' Blind Willie, Blind Sammie and - another alias - Georgia Bill on OKeh continued to record into the early 1930s. As the decade wore on, Willie returned to 'scuffling' for tips. In 1940 john and Ruby Lomax visited Atlanta. Willie, popular in town, was easily found. The Lomaxes recorded him talking and singing for two hours. Notable is Dying Crapshooters Blues - closely related to The Streets Of Laredo. The heartfelt gambling references suggest Willie himself suffered betting losses. The monologues give insights into a society long gone. He cut three more postwar sessions but by then he performed only religious material under his own name. The Blues were billed as by 'Barrelhouse Sammy.' In the 1950s, Blind Willie was still singing and playing around Atlanta. He died in 1959. Accounts of his later years vary. In one version he was the pastor of a local church.
|Label: Jsp Records|
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