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John Long

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Biography

John Long's uncanny ability to sound like a prewar country blues player — even as he plays original blues pieces he wrote himself or with his older brother Claude Long — makes his music sound both like a facsimile of the 1920s and early-'30s blues 78s he so treasures while somehow simultaneously sounding refreshingly modern, maybe because nobody plays this kind of throwback blues anymore, at least not with the care and precision that Long brings to it. Long was born in St. Louis, MO, in 1950, and grew up listening to his mother's jazz and R&B 78s, and the scratchy sturdiness of the old discs filtered directly into his musical DNA. Before he was even a teen, Long was already trying to figure out how to play country blues songs on guitar. Along with his brother Claude (who also played guitar), he formed the Mystics in the early '60s to play contemporary rock & roll and R&B material, but both brothers were drawn increasingly to the old blues sound, and Long soon realized he had discovered his artistic home in the music of the prewar acoustic blues era. He moved to Chicago in the early '70s, where he was mentored by Homesick James Williamson and began playing local gigs. After seeing Long perform during this time period, none other than Muddy Waters proclaimed Long to be "the best young country blues artist playing today." Outside of a couple session appearances and some homemade demo tapes (Long on Blues was released as an independent cassette album in 1999), Long did no recording, however. That changed when a demo tape of Long's found its way to Randy Chortkoff, head of Delta Groove Records. Chortkoff was struck by the power of Long's version of the old country blues, and signed him to the label. A full-length CD, Lost & Found, appeared from Delta Groove in 2006.

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Born:

1950 in St. Louis, MO

Category
Years Active:

'90s, '00s

Contemporaries