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Will Batts

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Biography

Fiddler Will Batts was the primary instrumentalist in Jack Kelly's South Memphis Jug Band, a popular string band whose music owed a heavy debt to the blues as well as minstrel songs, vaudeville numbers, reels and rags. Born January 24, 1904 in Michigan, Mississippi, Batts was working as a farm hand when he decided to pursue a career in music full-time; he sooned joined Kelly's band, a fixture of the Beale Street area, and in 1933 they made their first recordings, followed in 1939 by a second and final session. Batts also backed a variety of other Memphis performers, including minstrel singer Frank Stokes; a 1952 session with harpist Big Walter Horton was his last known recording date -- he died on April 16, 1954. ~ Jason Ankeny

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