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Ain't Nuthin' But The Blues

Nick Hayes is an award-winning illustrator who occasionally draws Australian maps for us, or illustrates our short story series. He’s also a blues connoisseur and jumped at the chance to show off his knowledge in this selection of blues tracks to kick back to.

Muddy Waters

An all-star band line-up, you can hear Muddy Waters calling out praise for Pinetop Perkins’s piano solo halfway through. Little Walter is on the harp and both went on to lead great bands of their own.

Garbage Man

Sonny Boy Williamson

Forget Screaming Jay Hawkins, this guy is the king of spooky blues. With titles such as ‘Its gonna be your funeral’ and ‘My trial’, Sonny Boy Williamson’s songs are suffused with a menace and the threat of violence.

Help Me

Memphis Slim

Reputed the inspiration for Bob Dylan’s Like a Rolling Stone, this song picks up that old blues standard, that pride comes before a fall, or in this case, a burial.

Mother Earth

Blind Boy Paxton

Made famous by Mississippi John Hurt, this song is a classic of the blues genre of single entendre. If you want something sweet, you know where to get it.

Candy Man

Big Bill Broonzy

Big Bill stands at the rarely visited crossroads between country blues and jazz. Most often accompanied by a piano and rhythm section, here he is alone with his guitar, not even bothering with a single entendre. Check out Willie Watson, formerly of the Old Crow Medicine Machine, for a saucy modern version.

How you want it done?

Frank Stokes

A country blues player that is the touchstone for many modern finger-pickers. Here he is playing his version of a blues standard – checkout the Pinetop Perkins version for a totally different take.

How Long

Carolina Chocolate Drops

Fusing academia with hardcore sawdust stomping musicianship, each member of this group is a student of blues culture and black heritage – digging up songs and instruments that trace blues’ journey from Africa to the Appalacian Mountains.

Don’t Get Trouble in Mind

Sonny Terry and Browhnie Mcghee

Finally, a double entendre. He left his gate open, now some other fellow is in his potato patch, digging up his potatoes. That’s gotta suck. Sonny and Browhnie are perhaps blues musics most famous pairing, and played often with Woody Guthrie in Alan Lomax’s glitzy cliquey soirees in his New York loft apartment.

Digging My Potatoes

Pokey La Farge and the South City Three

Unquestionably modern blues music’s finest purveyors of country swing – these guys are the single best live gig you can see today. This clip is from a Jools Holland hootenanny that they were flown in for, when someone dropped out, and exposed them to an audience far larger than they had ever played to before. It was the turning point in a career that landed them a gig as the houseband in Johnny Depp’s Lone Ranger movie.

Drinking Whiskey Tonight

Tuba Skinny

The origin of these lyrics can be heard in Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave, when it was originally a call and response field working song. Tuba Skinny are a street band that play in New Orleans. The guy on clarinet is Ewan Bleach, an English gentleman that can be found leading bands in London.

What’s the Matter with the Mill

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