10 May 2013


I have been led to Peg Leg Howell by the YouTube videos of young musicians in the streets of New Orleans. I had not previously heard of him. Many of today's performers have been inspired by Early American Black Country Music and they have revived the 90-year-old tunes of such guitarists as Peg Leg Howell, Frank Stokes and Blind Blake.

PEG LEG HOWELL (1888 - 1966) lived in Georgia and really did have a peg leg (a leg having been amputated after he was shot in a fight). His real name was Joshua Barnes Howell. He was a farm labourer and a self-taught busking guitarist. 
Howell's Trio
He is on the right; Williams on the left; Anthony centre.
As required by the mythology that often surrounds such characters, he served time in prison for alcohol offences. But in the 1920s he also made over twenty influential recordings of songs with Columbia Records. The two I must mention as having been particularly taken up again recently in New Orleans are: Banjo Blues and Too Tight Blues. Too Tight is an unusual blues in having several 8-bar three-chord vocals, interspersed with standard 12-bar instrumental improvisations. To see a jazz band playing it recently (though eschewing the 12-bar option),
For a great foot-tapping version of Banjo Blues by fifteen of today's New Orleans buskers,
And to hear the original 1928 recording by Peg Leg himself (with Eddie Anthony on violin),

You can find a full Peg Leg Howell discography   BY CLICKING ON HERE.