Saturday, November 16, 2013

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-Otha Turner

Artist:Otha Turner
Song:My Babe
Album:Martin Scorsese Presents The Blues: Feel Like Going Home

When most folks think of Mississippi blues, they think of slide guitar. Otha Turner was a blues pioneer of a different sort. He played the fife and was part of the Mississippi fife and drum band tradition. He was never a full time musician and didn't record until the 90s. So fame came late in life for Otha Turner. He was born June 2, 1907 in Madison County, MS. He learned to play the fife by using rivercanes. Turner made his living as a farmer. But he also led the Rising Star Fife and Drum Band. This was an informal group that mostly played parties. They never toured or recorded. They did appear on a 1982 episode of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. They finally recorded a couple of CDs in the late 90s. One of them included this cover of Little Walter's My Babe. That CD is out of print. But you can get My Babe on this various artists CD released with the Martin Scorsese produced 2003 PBS series The Blues. Scorsese also used Turner's music in the film Gangs Of New York. So he's a big fan. Turner was supposed to appear on the 2003 CD From Mississippi To Mali by blues artist Corey Harris. But he died on Feb. 26, 2003 at age 95 a week before he was supposed to record. Fortunately, Turner's legacy continues. His granddaughter Sharde Thomas played fife on that recording. And then she led the funeral procession. She was 13 years old. Here's Otha Turner performing My Babe in Memphis. That is Luther Dickinson of The North Mississippi All Stars on guitar and he posted this video on Youtube.

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