04 June 2009

Queen of the Blues

I own a set of DVDs from Reelin' in the Years called The American Folk Blues Festival. They feature footage of a generation of blues greats touring in Europe in the mid-sixties. The recordings are an absolute treasure and a must-have for blues fans. One of the discs features Koko Taylor singing "Wang Dang Doodle." She must have been in her 40s at the time, but she had the joyous swagger of a teen pop idol. Her growling, rocking vocals were part Etta James and part Big Mama Thornton, and seemed to emerge from deep within her as she belted out that party song. She was a distinctive-looking woman, with a huge, toothy mouth and big eyes set wide apart in a broad face. I was transfixed. Thus was my introduction to this giant of blues music, who just passed away at the age of 80. Sadly, Koko and her contemporaries are almost all gone. Fortunately for us the music lives on.

Recquiescat in pacem.

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