Thursday, March 4, 2010
The Wesley JEFFERSON Blues Band - Delta Blues Live from the Do Drop Inn 1996
Jefferson was born the oldest boy of thirteen children in Roundaway, Mississippi, a rural area south of Clarksdale. Raised in abject poverty, Jefferson picked cotton and plowed behind a mule as a young man, and as he got older, he worked the fields with a tractor. He picked up on blues music at an early age, hearing records on the jukebox at the juke joint that his mother ran out in the country. Jefferson bought his first guitar at the age of 18, after moving to Memphis for work. He would later return to the Clarksdale area, taking on a job as a mechanic on the Hopson Plantation, where he worked for 22 years.
From the mid-1960s on, Jefferson worked with various bands and blues artists, including relatively well-known Delta bluesmen like Sam Carr, Frank Frost, Robert "Bilbo" Walker, and Super Chikan. Although he performed regularly for decades, Jefferson's recorded output is slim. His first recorded songs appeared on a 1990 Rooster Blues label cassette called Clarksdale, Mississippi – Coahoma The Blues. In 1996, Jefferson recorded the The Wesley Jefferson Band: Delta Blues Live from the Do Drop Inn CD with James “Super Chikan” Johnson. Jefferson's last recording was 2007's Meet Me in the Cotton Field, a collaboration with Clarksdale guitarist Terry "Big T" Williams.
Jefferson appeared in the 2008 documentary film M For Mississippi along with several other Delta and Mississippi Hill Country bluesmen. Although "Junebug" wasn't well-known outside of the Clarksdale area, he was a popular draw in the region, and an influence on up-and-coming blues artists. Jefferson will be missed by his family, friends, and fans.
By Reverend Keith A. Gordon.
Bassist, vocalist, and bandleader Wesley Jefferson has been a stalwart of the Clarksdale blues scene since the mid-1960s. He was born in Roundaway in Coahoma County on March 23, 1944, the oldest boy of thirteen children. As a youth he picked and chopped cotton, plowed with mules and later with a tractor, and lived in extreme poverty.
He recalls being influenced by his grandfather, Claude Jefferson, who played guitar at his home in Clarksdale. He also furtively listened to records by “deep blues” artists at a juke joint run by his mother “way out in the field,” where they sold catfish and moonshine made by his stepfather. Local musicians who he saw playing at small venues in the country included the one-man-band “Popeye,” guitarist Ernest Roy—“the best guitarist I ever seen,” and the band led by Tutwiler’s Lee Kizart, who hauled his piano from gig to gig.
Jefferson first played blues on a diddley bow on the wall of his house, and was first able to buy a guitar after he moved to Memphis to work around age 18. He soon moved on to drums, and began playing in Memphis juke joints and house parties. After several years he returned to the Clarksdale region, where he found work as a mechanic on Hopson Plantation, a job he held for 22 years. He soon formed his first band, playing drums behind guitarist/vocalist David Porter and bassist “A.C.” at Smitty’s Red Top Lounge in Clarksdale. The band lasted for about three or four years, and Jefferson then formed a new band—now having switched to the bass—with guitarist J.C. Holmes, drummer C.V. Veal, and Veal’s wife Marian on vocals, a grouping that lasted seven or eight years.
For about a decade Jefferson worked regularly across the Delta with drummer Sam Carr and guitarist/keyboardist/harmonica player Frank Frost. He also played with Big Jack Johnson, Little Jeno Tucker, Robert “Bilbo” Walker, and Willie Foster. “I kind of was with all of them for a while,” he says, and explains that he was the organizer of these groups, doing the booking and providing much of the equipment.
He also played in groups called the Scalpers and Creative Funk, which performed more modern soul blues. In the ‘90s the Wesley Jefferson band featured guitarist/vocalist James “Super Chikan” Johnson, and more recently Willie “Rip” Butler, Michael “Dr. Mike” James, and Gladys Kyles. The group also features Earnest Boone on double trumpet, and drummer Joe Williams. In the late ‘90s Jefferson was involved in a serious automobile accident and also had heart problems, which resulted in a temporary hiatus from performing. Since returning he has performed regularly in the Clarksdale area, and has traveled to a festival in Canada.
Jefferson’s first recordings appeared on the Clarksdale-based Rooster Blues’ 1990 cassette-only compilation, Clarksdale, Mississippi—Coahoma The Blues. As Wesley “Mississippi Junebug” Jefferson he sings the song "(Hey Theresa) Don't throw Your Love on me so Hard (Strong)", and backs fellow band members Willie “Rip” Butler, Lorenzo Nicholson, and C.V. Veal on five other songs.
In 1996 the Repap paper company underwrote the cost for the CD, The Wesley Jefferson Band: Delta Blues Live from the Do Drop Inn. Over half the songs are originals by vocalist James “Super Chikan” Johnson, who recorded his debut CD the following year. Jefferson’s most recent recording is Meet Me in the Cotton Field, a collaboration with Clarksdale guitarist Terry "Big T" Williams, released in Spring 2007 on St. Louis-based Broke & Hungry Records.
By Scott Barretta.
01.Just A Little Bit
02.You Don't Love Me
03.I'll Play The Blues For You
04.Young Folks With The Blues
05.Do You Want A Man
06.Frankie And Johnnie/Baby That Hurts
07.Take Me To The Country
08.Bad Company Keeper