Junior Kimbrough / July 28, 1930 - Jan 17, 1998

Happy birthday to one of my very favorite bluesmen, David "Junior" Kimbrough. He wasn't recorded too much in his early days, toiling for decades playing his "cottonpatch blues" at his roadside shack venue in Holly Springs, MS. He cut his first recordings in Memphis in '66 but they lay unreleased until long after Kimbrough's death.

His first actual release (erroneously "Junior Kimbell") was his version of "Tramp", a 45 cut for the Philwood label in '67. In '69 he cut duets with rockabilly artist Charlie Feathers. He recorded scantly in the '70s and '80s but made his NYC debut at the esteemed Lincoln Center, after a "discovery" by Bob Palmer. He made a few albums in the '90s, including the tremendous Sad Days Lonely Nights (one of my all time favorite albums). He got to tour Europe in the '90s.

His style had his thumb on the bass strings, creating that mystical droning effect in his music, and modal runs. His music tapped into a sound that seems very ancient, African, not unlike the music of Ali Farka Toure. He was lifelong friends with RL Burnside (RL's son Gary Burnside played bass in Kimbrough's band).

Despite limited output, Kimbrough has influenced several prominent artists (including Feathers, Buddy Guy and others) and attracted fandom from some of the biggest superstars in music. He continued playing at his roadside venue for the rest of his life. He died of a heart attack in '98, not long after I MISSED him at the Iron Horse. Fuck.

Tagged: blues, Celebrate Icons, guitar, Junior Kimbrough, rock

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