Recently, blues expert Bob Eagle shared a short but sweet list of his all-time favorite performances — that he was lucky enough to witness live in person over the course of his career as a researcher, detective, author, and scholar — not to mention fanatic. The list might surprise you, and thanks to Bob’s kindly permission, we’ll be sharing the results with you (along with the videos he picked to accompany each entry) over the next week or so. Enjoy! –SBH
#8) “Mule” (aka Joe Willie Wilkins) was an amazing human being. I knew him very well for about four (maybe more) months in 1972 and renewed the acquaintance early in 1975. He was a great musician and an uncommonly humble man. God, I miss him, ugly mofo that he was. I first heard him play on Danny Thomas Boulevard, Memphis in 1972, with Houston Stackhouse. A stunning young black girl taught me how to dance to the music (L forward, L back, R forward, R back – I had been trying to do it in waltz time; from there, you can do whatever you fancy). It’s a toss-up for me whether I love Joe more than Eugene Powell. What a conundrum to have to consider….
#7) I’ve nominated Eugene Powell (aka Sonny Boy Nelson) as my next favorite. “Lugene” was an uncommonly moralistic man. His (final) wife had taken care of him when he needed her and he was determined to return the obligation. He was not financially able to employ someone to care for her, so often he turned down invitations to appear at blues festivals. I carried him to the Smithsonian in 1972 and he was magnificent. His downfall was that, fantastic musician that he was, he thought he could not sing (that’s why there’s a Hacksaw Harney CD on the Gene’s label — but not one by Eugene). He was not a Delta musician but from the Loess Plains of Mississippi (and his inspiration, Frank Stokes, only became a Delta performer if he turned south upon leaving the Peabody Hotel – LOL).