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Happy Birthday, Junior Kimbrough

David (Junior) Kimbrough was born on this day in 1930 in Hudsonville, Mississippi. Wikipedia says Kibrough’s two most noteworthy songs are “Keep Your Hands Off Her” and “All Night Long.”

In many cases, a songs – especially the old blues people – only can feature static images of album covers of pictures of the musician. In this case, happily, in this case the two songs – the aforementioned “All Night Long” (above) and “Sad Days, Lonely Nights” (below) – are accompanied by interesting footage.

More on Kimbrough from All About the Blues: “David ‘Junior’ Kimbrough was over 60 years of age when he made an impact with his album ‘All Night Long’ in 1992, where his hard-driving juke-joint style showed that down-home country Blues can still rock the room. Junior’s archaic style has the same hypnotic pulse as John Lee Hooker‘s boogies and employs a complex poly-rhythmic timing, fretting the bass strings with the thumb, that harks back to Africa.” The Kimbrough album with perhaps the greatest title in blue history: “Most Things Haven’t Worked Out” was recommended. Check it out here or click on the image. Here it is at iTunes.
The profile makes mention of the video above. It was filmed at the Chewalla Rib Shake in Holly Springs, which is in the North Mississippi hill country. The recording is from a documentary entitled “Deep Blues: A Musical Pilgrimage to the Crossroads.” Kimbrough owned the place.

The bio at Fat Possum Records, Kimbrough’s last label, pulls no punches:

David “Junior” Kimbrough, quite possibly the most important blues guitarist of the second half of the 20th century, redefined blues. Junior’s approach to music is so hugely different from anything that came before him that he ranks among the three greatest bluesmen of all: Son House, Bukka White, and Fred McDowell. An originator, Junior did more than build on certain tradition or perfect a certain style. Junior re-imagined the blues; he made a sound for himself.

The Wikipedia profile says that Kimbrough was an early proponent of “hill country blues,” which features mid-tempo rhythms and “a steady drone played with his thumb on the bass strings.” The writer, who obviously is just as interested in Kimbrough’s style as in Kimbrough, goes on:

His music is characterized by the tricky syncopation between his droning bass strings and his midrange melodies. His soloing style has been described as modal and features languorous runs in the middle and upper registers. The result was described by music critic Robert Palmer as “hypnotic”.

The ties to African music are strong, the piece says.

The profile offers a bit more on Kimbrough’s style and circles back to his bio. He recorded for Goldwax records in 1966. He also worked with gospel producer Quinton Claunch, the founder of Hi Records. Kimbrough broke through to the larger public in 1992 with the album entitled “All Night Long” for Fat Possum (who’s tag line is “We’re Trying Our Best”).

Kimbrough was quite an entrepreneur: He opened the restaurant to divert crowds from his house parties. Two years later, he opened a second juke joint, Junior’s Place, in the nearby town of Chulahoma. The building previously was a church. U2, Keith Richards and Iggy Pop were among the visitors. Kimbrough died in 1998 in Holly Springs. He had 36 children.

(All About Blues Music was cited in the blue box. Homepage Photo Credit: Wikipedia)