By Michael Henningsen
The Living Blues
Dave “Honeyboy” Edwards Brings the Delta to You
At 89 years old, Mississippi bluesman Honeyboy Edwards is still every bit the voice of the Delta he was when he was sharing the stages at juke joints across the south with Robert Johnson in the '30s. His gnarled voice and extraordinarily aggressive and unapologetic guitar work are as much innate gifts as they are the result of a career that has spanned some 60 years—and counting. Edwards, along with Robert Lockwood, Jr., is one of the last remaining lifelines to the Delta blues as the genre originated. Time has stamped its influence on the music over the years, so to have the opportunity to hear them blues as they once were is monumental indeed.
Edwards hasn't enjoyed the notoriety his old pal Johnson got during his short life and thereafter, but his music—his contribution to the blues canon—is just as deserving of immortal praise. His recordings remain relatively few, but they're all essential if one is to ever truly understand the original sound of the Delta. Start with the recordings Alan Lomax made of Edwards for the Library of Congress in 1942, and move on from there to a pair of recent recordings for Testament (Crawling Kingsnake, 1997) and APO (Shake 'Em on Down, 2000).
Recorded material aside, your failure to accept this invitation to hear blues history delivered live from the pulpit is an unforgivable sin. And you don't want to spend eternity in the company of Robert Johnson, now do you?
Jill Cohn (WA) • indie, jazz at Rio Bravo Brewing Company
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