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SONNY BOY WILLIAMSON BIRTHDAY with KIM FIELD

03/24/2007
Kim Field along with the Colonel and his Doubleshot rhythm section host a birthday celebration for Blues harmonica great, Sonny Boy Willamson.

John Lee Williamson (March 30, 1914 - June 1, 1948) was an American blues harmonica player and the first to use the name Sonny Boy Williamson. He was born near Jackson, Tennessee on March 30, 1914. His original harmonica recordings were considered to be in the country blues style, but he soon demonstrated skill at making harmonica a lead instrument for blues, and popularized the instrument for the first time in a more urban blues setting. He has been called "the father of modern blues harp".

His very first recording, "Good Morning, School Girl", was a major hit on the 'race records' market in 1937. He was hugely popular among black audiences throughout the whole southern US as well as in the midwestern industrial cities such as Detroit and his home base in Chicago, and his name was synonymous with the blues harmonica for the next decade. Other well-known recordings of his include "Shake the Boogie", "You Better Cut That Out", and "Early In The Morning". John Lee's style influenced a large number of blues harmonica performers, including Billy Boy Arnold, Junior Wells, Sonny Terry, Little Walter and Snooky Pryor among many others. He was easily the most widely heard and influential blues harmonica player of his generation. His music was also influential on many of his non-harmonica playing contemporaries and successors, including Muddy Waters and Jimmy Rogers.

He was popular enough that by the 1940s, another blues harp player, Aleck/Alex "Rice" Miller, who was based in Helena, AR, began also using the name Sonny Boy Williamson. John Lee objected to this, though no legal action took place, possibly due to the fact that Miller did not release any records during Williamson's lifetime, and also that Williamson played mainly around the Chicago area, and Miller seldom ventured beyond the Mississippi delta region.

Williamson recorded prolifically both as a bandleader and a sideman over the entire course of his career, mainly for the Bluebird label, with many early sessions taking place at the Leland Hotel in Aurora, IL while most later sessions were recorded in Chicago. His final recording session took place in December of 1947, backing Big Joe Williams.

On June 1, 1948, John Lee Williamson was killed in a mugging on Chicago's South Side, as he walked home from his final performance at The Plantation Club, a tavern just a block and a half away from his home.

Tonlght's show will be a celebration of the original Sonny Boy Willamson's music as well as all the legendary blues harp players he influenced.
320 Commercial Ave. | Anacortes, Washington
360-588-1720 | MAP
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