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Friday, May 20, 2005

In search of stories about Blind Willie

If anyone out there personally remembers bluesman Blind Willie McTell, who was from Thomson and died in 1959, writer Michael Gray is looking for you. He's the same guy who wrote Song and Dance Man 3: The Art of Bob Dylan a few years ago. And of course, Dylan once recorded a song about Blind Willie, who wrote Statesboro Blues long before anyone had ever heard of the Allman Brothers.

Take a look at Blind Willie's original lyrics to that song, which were not quite the same as the ones the Allmans recorded in the '60s. Sister, tell your brother ...

Thomson, of course, has an annual blues festival now days in honor of Blind Willie -- it's going on this weekend. Twenty years ago I didn't know anyone there who'd ever heard of Blind Willie there or gave much of a hoot about old-time blues music. This year's festival is bringing in John Hammond tonight, and tomorrow night, Maria Muldaur (the "Midnight at the Oasis" lady) and Pat Donohue from Garrison Keillor's A Prairie Home Companion radio show.

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