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Ghetto Poet

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Album Review

Texas bluesman Weldon "Juke Boy" Bonner was a virtual one-man band with his stripped-down electric guitar playing, his constantly stomping foot, and the swampy sound of his racked harmonica, elements that made him sound like a cross between Jimmy Reed and Slim Harpo. Bonner's carefully considered lyrics are what set him apart from any other bluesman, however, and the best of his songs have a kind of weary emotional balance that show why the blues is capable of being a great vernacular art form. The opening track on this disc of previously unreleased material, "Daylight Won't Catch Me Here," is a perfect example of Bonner's craft, as it teeters between defeat and resolve, all with a relentless, driving rhythm. Other highlights here include the desperate humor of "Rainin' in My Room" and the brilliant album closer "It's Enough." Woefully underappreciated during his lifetime, Bonner ended up with a last-chance job loading crates of factory-raised chickens into the processing plant that would end their lives. This collection is drawn largely from a session on May 5, 1969.

Biography

Born: 22 March 1932 in Bellville, TX

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s

One-man bands weren't too common on the postwar blues scene. Joe Hill Louis and Dr. Ross come to mind as greats who plied their trade all by their lonesome — and so did Juke Boy Bonner, a Texan whose talent never really earned him much in the way of tangible reward. Born into impoverished circumstances in the Lone Star State during the Depression, Weldon Bonner took up the guitar in his teens. He caught a break in 1947 in Houston, winning a talent contest that led to a spot on a local radio...
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Ghetto Poet, Juke Boy Bonner
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