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Stavin' Chain Blues

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These pristine recordings from the ’50s capture Big Joe Williams teaming up with cousin J.D. Short. Both country bluesmen have idiosyncratic styles, yet they complement each other perfectly. Rattling like a broken-down car, Williams and his homemade nine-string care little for maintaining tempo or a consistent rhythm, but Short’s mouth-harp serves as a gracefully puttering counterweight. Williams handles the bulk of the vocals, including an enthralling “You’re Gonna Need King Jesus”, wherein blues and gospel intersect.


Born: 16 October 1903 in Crawford, MS

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s

Big Joe Williams may have been the most cantankerous human being who ever walked the earth with guitar in hand. At the same time, he was an incredible blues musician: a gifted songwriter, a powerhouse vocalist, and an exceptionally idiosyncratic guitarist. Despite his deserved reputation as a fighter (documented in Michael Bloomfield's bizarre booklet Me and Big Joe), artists who knew him well treated him as a respected elder statesman. Even so, they may not have chosen to play with him, because...
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Stavin' Chain Blues, Big Joe Williams
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