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Watermelon Slim (his real name is Bill Homans) was born in Boston but raised in North Carolina, where, he says, he was first exposed to the blues at the age of five. He sang in choirs and glee clubs as a child, but he began seriously turning to music after a tour of duty in Vietnam that ended in 1970. He independently released the furiously antiwar album Merry Airbrakes in 1973. Although he has spent most of his adult life as a blue-collar laborer (mostly as a truck driver), Homans still found a whole lot of time for academia, earning degrees in history and journalism from the University of Oregon and a master's degree in history from Oklahoma State University. He founded a blues band, Fried Okra Jones, in the late '90s and has fronted them with his raw, impassioned blues singing, harp playing, and impressive National Steel guitar style (which he plays left-handed). His songs feature subtle, intelligent twists (he is a member of MENSA, after all), while remaining undeniably in the blues tradition. Following a serious heart attack, Watermelon Slim turned his attention full-time to music, releasing two albums on Southern Records, Big Shoes to Fill in 2003 and Up Close & Personal in 2004. Assembling a new band, the Workers, he released the hard-hitting and impressive Watermelon Slim & the Workers in 2006 on the Toronto-based NorthernBlues Music label, following it a year later with The Wheel Man and with No Paid Holidays in 2008. He then switched gears just a little into country territory with an album of truck-driving songs, Escape from the Chicken Coop, which NorthernBlues released in 2009. Slim kept the country elements and mixed them in again with his brand of roots and blues for 2010's Ringers, his fifth album for NorthernBlues. ~ Steve Leggett