The Roadhouse: Steak-Bone Blues

Tonight in The Roadhouse, you’ll hear Mississippi Fred McDowell, the bottleneck Delta player who grew up using a steak-bone to get his sound. Later, he switched to various bottle tops always searching for just the right one.

Born in 1904, McDowell never got the opportunity to recorded like many of his peers during the pre-Depression “Golden-Age” of American recordings (late 20’s and early 30’s) and instead was discovered late in life by folklorist Alan Lomax in his hometown of Como, MS.

Quickly recognized as a purveyor of original Delta style blues, Fred got busy on the 60’s folk revival circuit and recorded a succession of albums. Though open to younger musicians and occasionally “pluggin’ in”, Fred is famous for the statement “I don’t play no rock n roll….just the straight natural blues”. It’s this commitment to keepin’ things real and not updating his sound or style that makes Fred appealing then, and now. Proteges include Bonnie Rait,who credits McDowell as a teacher of bottleneck blues, and the Rolling Stones, whose rendition of “You Gotta Move” is a straight-up imitation of Fred McDowell’s version a few years earlier. Hear for yourself tonight, 6-9 pm, as Greg Vandy continues to feature the Greats of Early Blues.

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