For a sense of the blues at its most tangible, one needs to look no further than singer/guitarist Percy Strother, who triumphed over incredible tragedy to create music of genuine pain and sorrow. Born July 23, 1946 in Vicksburg, Mississippi, he was still a child when his father died violently; his mother passed away shortly afterward, and rather than submitting to life in an orphanage,
Strother simply took to the road. He drifted from job to job for a number of years, all the while fighting a battle with alcoholism; discovering the blues turned his life around, however, and after sobering up he began teaching himself guitar, honing his chops in virtual anonymity before recording his debut LP A Good Woman Is Hard to Find in 1992. The Highway Is My Home followed in 1995, and in 1997 Strother returned with It’s My Time. He toured Europe several times and recorded Home at Last there, which saw release in 2001. A legend in his adopted home of Minneapolis, Percy Strother was diagnosed with liver cancer and passed away May 29, 2005.
Guitarist/singer Roscoe Chenier was born November 6, 1941 in the hamlet of Notleyville, just east of Opelousas. Though his family of sharecroppers was poor in material posses-sions, it was musically rich in talent. Related to both zydeco demigod, Clifton Chenier, and bluesman Morris ‘Big’ Chenier, his father Arthur ‘Bud’ Chenier was his main inspiration. Bud, a cajun accordionist, accompanied by his first cousin and fiddler John Stevens, the father of Duke Stevens, was widly popular, as he often would entertain at weekend house parties. “As a youngster, I’d just soak up the music”, Roscoe said.
His vocal gift manifested itself early, as he was invited in 1958 to join one of the hottest traveling bands in the territory; C.D and the Blue Runners, which featured three Gradnier brothers on harmonica, drums and bass and Lonesome Sundown on lead guitar. Roscoe remained with CD for over a dozen years, until 1970 and despite the British Invasion, still managed to find enough work to keep the blues alive. Things in the black com- munity changed and it was difficult earning a living, especially when the gigs were paying $6 per man per night. And, Roscoe began a succession for day jobs as a truck driver in order to make ends meet.
In the 70’s Roscoe led a rather peripatetic existence as a bluesman, drifting from band to band, finding gigs catch as catch can. for a year and a half, he served with Good Rockin’ Thomas and thereafter a hitch with Good Rockin’ Bob. Often he was a “hired gun” for artists like Lonesome Sundown and Clarence Randle. The final chapter of this itinerant period of Roscoe’s life was a three year stretch with local horn man Duke Stevens, who like Charles Tyler, also had a hit on Lee Lavergne’s Lanor label in the 60’s “I’ve been your fool.”
By 1980, Roscoe finally was his own man, leading his own band, shaped in his image. During the years he had some great players in his band and allthough some of them “retired” Roscoe always managed to attract capable replacements. Since that date, it’s been a long hard struggle to remain financially independent. And he’s tried various means, including recording, to jump start his career. Roscoe Chenier and his band appeared at the Blues Estafette in 1992, 1993, 1996, 1998 and 2001. He also performed at the very prestigous North Sea Jazz Festival in the Hague. Roscoe Chenier toured Europe regularly and performed on several major blues festivals. Roscoe’s last two releases are “Roscoe Style” (1998) and “Waiting For My Tomorrow” (2006).
Way back in the South, turnip greens were considered a simple daily fare for the countryside folks. This same simplicity is also to be found in the music of Turnip Greens. Turnip Greens are five seasoned musicians from Arhus, Denmark. Their music is a unique blend of several musical styles from the southern states of the US.
They are influenced by Tom Waits, Dr. John, Delbert McClinton, Elvis, The Meters, B.B. King, Solomon Burke, Daniel Lanois, Ry Cooder, Doyle Bramhall II, Bob Dylan, Taj Mahal, Muddy Waters, The Black Keys and many more. Without a doubt the geographical distance between Denmark and the US is the reason for the fresh and original approach to the music. At the same time you hear exactly where they are coming from and in the music you hear a deep respect for ‘the masters’ and ‘the tradition’. Also vocal harmonies play an important role in their music. With a repertoire that consists of mostly original material
Turnip Greens are making their way into the roots & blues music tradition of New Orleans. The band performed on several major European festivals like Bluesnacht Idar-Oberstein (D), Blues Balls Festival in Luzern (CH), Austrian Blues Masters, Stadfest Steyr (A) and Blues Autour du Zinc in Beauvais (F).