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Junior Kimbrough honored in Austin

The Second Annual Junior Kimbrough Tribute Show begins at 9pm on Saturday July 30, 2011, at Ruta Maya – 3601 South Congress in Austin.

David, Jr., guitar vocals,  and drummer Kenny Kimbrough, sons of Junior, headline the show with Old Gray Mule, a guitar and drum duo who have opened often for T Model Ford and live North Mississippi Blues as they live in Central Texas, play after CW Ayon – One Man Band & The Hancock Co. open the show. The show also is a cd release party for Old Gray Mule’s new album – “40 Nickels For a Bag of Chips.” The Sugarfoot Hustlers back up the Mule during the show.

Below is coverage of last summer’s inaugural show.

For one night in late July 2010 it seemed you could walk across the dirt parking lot of TCs Lounge in East Austin and end up next door in the legendary Junior’s Place blues juke joint in the Hill Country of Chulahoma, Mississippi.

David and Kinney Kimbrough with Jay

Junior Kimbrough, who was discovered and recorded by Fat Possum Records, ran the popular club in the 1990s while performing mostly in and around the state. Members of U2, Keith Richards, Iggy Pop and many other fans visited the club to hear some Real North Mississippi Blues until it burned down in 2000.

Central Texas Old Gray Mule guitar & front man CR Humphrey is a big Kimbrough fan and wanted to do something special to honor his hero. CR contacted musician sons of Junior Kimbrough and they agreed to travel to Austin for what may well be the first Junior tribute show since the bluesman died in 1998.

David Kimbrough, Jr.

“I put it together because it was a round number birthday –  80 years old is a reachable age these days, and I really wanted to see the Kimbroughs play live,” said show organizer Humphrey.

The Kimbrough family band included two sons of Junior – David Jr. on guitar and Kinney on drums. Stacey Mackey played bass and Jay was second guitar. A third son, Robert who plays bass, couldn’t travel due to a foot injury.

Kinney Kimbrough

CR Humphrey writes about Junior Kimbrough – “To my ears Junior has inspired a new generation of players, but is more or less forgotten because he died right when the whole North Mississippi sound was getting big in the late 90’s.

“RL Burnside got the lion’s share of fame and what little fortune could be made…and justifiably so because he was BAD ASS, but Junior’s juke house was where all those sounds coalesced into what we hear today. It is a shame that Junior has been practically forgotten and his style remains un-played.

“Cedric is keeping the Burnside sound alive but the Kimbroughs have pretty much stayed in Mississippi and aren’t the road dog that Cedric is. Plus those who cover Junior’s tunes don’t have the timing or the tone to do what Junior did, so his music is diminished when it is revisited,” CR said.

Stacey Mackey bass and David

Also playing during the Kimbrough BDay party at TCs Lounge were –

CW Ayon – a one man band and winner of “Best New Blues Song” at this year’s New Mexico Music Awards

Joel Johnson guitar, Jason Roberts bass & drummer Matt Ehlers of Black Squeeze

The Black Squeeze (the only Black Keys tribute band now playing) – Joel Johnson-vocals and guitar, Matt Ehlers-drums and for Saturday night only, Jason Roberts stood in on bass and second guitar and CR played bass for the song “Meet Me In The City. “Since the Black Keys did a tribute album (Chulahoma) for Junior, I figured what better way to contrast the real Kimbrough Sound than to have the Black Squeeze play,” Humphrey said.

Old Gray Mule CR Humphrey guitar and drummer Joe Falco

Old Gray Mule <oldgraymule.wordpress.com> – CR Humphrey guitar and drummer Joe Falco recorded their first album “Sound Like Somethin’ Fell Off the House” last February and were signed by Stobie Sounds in Adelaide, Australia, the next month. Since then the Mule has played the Juke Joint Festival in Clarksdale, Mississippi, and opened for T-Model Ford while there. (After finishing this article, scroll up for a post about T-Model playing at Emo’s in Austin.) Old Gray Mule will be recording its second album, “40 Nickels for a Bag of Chips,” this fall.

Mississippi Gabe Carter with Old Gray Mule

Other Kimbrough Birthday performers were Mississippi Gabe Carter who came to Austin from Chicago to sing with Mule, and Austin blues harp player Orange Jefferson stopped by TCs to play with Mule after his weekly show at the nearby Victory Grill.

Last song of the Birthday show was Junior’s  “Baby Please Don’t Leave Me” – a poignant reminder of the legendary Hill Country Mississippi bluesman for Kimbrough sons and the many Austin fans at TC’s that night.

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