Louisiana Red & Fiddler Joe Thompson RIP.


Both bluesmen
contributed hugely to the musical landscape.


By Rev. Keith Gordon


Ed. Note: Gordon
writes about the blues at his About.com blues blog. Go there to read the full
text of these obituaries.


Louisiana Red (a/k/a Iverson Minter) passed away on
Saturday, February 25, 2012 in a German hospital after a brief illness. Red was
79 years old.While there is plenty of confusion about the specifics of Red’s
life, there can be no debate over the great music that the talented singer,
songwriter, guitarist, and harmonica player made throughout a lengthy career
that spanned eight decades. Red recorded his first sides in 1949 as “Rocky
Fuller” with producer Joe Von Battle; a couple of the songs would later be
licensed by Chess and released on their Checkers Records subsidiary.


Red toured the U.S.
frequently until his death.


Red hooked up with Norwegian producer and musician Little Victor to record Back
To The Black Bayou
in 2008 for Victor’s Bluestown label; the album would
be reissued worldwide by Germany’s
Ruf Records a year later. Back To The Black Bayou would earn Red a
slew of Blues Music Award nominations, and would lead to his award as
“Acoustic Blues Artist of the Year” in 2010. A collaboration with
pianist David Maxwell resulted in the 2009 album You Got To Move,
which won the duo a 2010 Blues Music Award for “Acoustic Album of the
Year.” Red teamed up again with Little Victor for his critically-acclaimed
2011 album, Memphis Mojo.




Word also comes of the death of Piedmont bluesman “Fiddler” Joe
at the age of 93 in his Mebane, North
Carolina home. A long-time staple of the thriving North Carolina folk and
blues music scene, Thompson was best-known as a mentor to the popular Carolina
Chocolate Drops, the elderly bluesman teaching them much of their early
repertoire of traditional songs.


Thompson also performed frequently with the Carolina Chocolate Drops at
regional festivals, and he recorded a live album with the band, later released
by Music Maker, at the 2008 Merlefest. While that seems to be the only album
that the revered fiddle player recorded during his lifetime, Thompson was
awarded a North Carolina Heritage Award in 1991 for his musical contributions,
and he earned an NEA National Heritage Fellowship in 2007.



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