15 March 2009

Happy Birthday, Lightnin' Hopkins!

Derral Campbell on KSOR's Rollin' the Blues reminded his listeners today that March 15th was the birthday of Sam Hopkins, aka Lightnin'. Mr. Campbell's program, on the Rhythm & News Service of Jefferson Public Radio, airs Sundays from 1400 to 1500 hours Pacific Time. We are incredibly lucky to have top-notch public radio here in our lonely little burg. We are "over the mountain" from Ashland, Oregon but the signal crosses the stateline and we get a translator at 89.3 MHz.

Lightnin' Hopkins was one of the giants of the blues. He lived to be almost 70, a feat in itself, and supposedly learned at the feet of Blind Lemon Jefferson. I'm fortunate to own a three-volume DVD collection called The American Folk Blues Festival from Reelin in the Years. Disc one features Lightnin' Hopkins performing "Mojo Hand." It is easily the slickest, coolest, rockinest cut in the collection, and that is saying a lot! He seems to do it all--play beautiful licks, sing with bluesy sass, stomp out a vigorous rhythm, and look good doing it. The guy wasn't just a great guitarist and singer. He was also a mature and confident showman, and he just dazzles you with his savoir faire. I can watch that clip over and over again.

Happy Birthday, Sam. Oh, and Beware the Ides of March!

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