Print

E-Mail Story

Comment

News Letter Sign up


Got them Statesboro blues


September 01, 2017

1 Image

Although born in Thomson, Georgia, Willie McTell (born William Samuel McTier) was quoted as saying he felt that Statesboro was his true home, and it was him, prehaps more than any other musician, who brought attention to the community we call home. Born almost completely blind, McTell lost the remainder of his vision in early childhood, but he was blessed with enhanced senses of hearing and touch that led him to become one of a kind on his instrument. He began playing a six string guitar in his early teens and later developed a technique on the 12-string guitar that enabled him to sound as though more than one guitar was playing. As a youngster he attended schools for the blind in various states and, the child of a very musical family, demonstrated a proficiency for music that developed into a passionate career. McTell even learned to read and write music in Braille.

 

In the early 20s, after his mother died, McTell left home to become a traveling musician, and by 1927 he had begun a recording career with Victor Records in Atlanta. Throughout his career, he performed under various pseudonyms including Blind Willie McTell, Blind Sammie, Georgia Bill, Hot Shot Willie, Blind Willie, Barrelhouse Sammie and Pig & Whistle Red. For 30 years, his ability to weave pictures through the stories his music told drew in audiences to the genre. His notoriety and influence led others to cover his music in following generations of blues music.

 

Most notably, The Allman Brothers cover of “Statesboro Blues” brought the music of Blind Willie McTell to a broader audience and brought the name of our fair city to the world. Although, the 1971 cover omitted several verses of the original version, it none the less brought the attention of a whole new generation of fans, and was subsequently covered by Taj Mahal, Dan Fogelberg and Deep Purple, to name just a few, and, along with other McTell songs, has been the inspiration for several original songs including Canned Heat’s “Goin’ Up The Country” and at least four of Bob Dylan’s songs.

 

While the influence McTell had on the music of generations is immense, for our community, he will always best be known as the writer of “Statesboro Blues,” the song that put our town on the map, musically speaking. With the recent passing of Gregg Allman, The Allman Brothers’ music has resurfaced in the mind of music lovers far and wide, and with that resurgence, people are, once again, looking to Statesboro as a touchstone for blues lovers, and music lovers, in general. Locally, we are carrying on that tradition as new bands and musicians continue to play the classic blues tunes, even as they are writing new blues music for the masses. In tribute to the influence Blind Willie McTell had on the music of this area, we now have the Blind Willie McTell walking trail through town, and the Statesboro Visitors & Convention Bureau worked closely with the America’s Best Communities board and the Downtown Development Authority to commission a statue of Mr. McTell that will be placed in front of the CVB to honor his impact and influence.

 

Next month, we will begin to move out of the past to connect with the musicians who were influenced and impacted by local legends like Blind Willie and Emma Kelly. We will kick off a series of interviews and pieces on some of the most well-known musicians, bands, and performers in or area today and find out who they are, why they do what they do, and where they are headed next. 


Print

E-Mail Story

News Letter Sign up

Bookmark and Share
« Previous Story | Next Story »
 

COMMENTS

http://www.connectstatesboro.com/ encourages readers to interact with one another. We will not edit your comments, but we reserve the right to delete any inappropriate responses. To report offensive or inappropriate comments, contact our editor. The comments below are from readers of http://www.connectstatesboro.com/ and do not necessarily represent the views of Publication or Morris Multimedia.

You must be logged in to post comments.  [LOGIN]



You must be logged in to post comments.  [LOGIN]