Today, there are more blues festivals than at any other time in the history
of the world. Not surprisingly, there are plenty of excellent blues players
available to perform at them. But how many bluesmen are left? You know,
the real deal. The genuine article. Big-voiced blues veterans who came up the
hard way in a time before rock music — when picking cotton was the only
work and dinner meant black-eyed peas. Well, the days when blues was
pop music and bluesmen were heroes have sadly passed, but there are still
a few of those real-deal men (and women) out there. Big George Brock is
just such a man. Sharecropper, boxer, club owner and, through it all, an
honest-to-Muddy bluesman. From the cotton fields to the bright lights,
big city, Brock has done it all. He’s faced personal and professional ups and downs but never given up. Even today, with all the aches and pains of old age, the blues
still lift him up.
Born in Grenada, Mississippi on May 16, 1932, Big George spent his teenage years
near Clarksdale, Mississippi, before settling in St. Louis, Missouri, in the 1950s.
While living in the Clarkdale area, he did back-breaking fieldwork, boxed on weekends,
and played the blues. He remembers hanging out at house parties in the Delta where
folks like Memphis Minnie would show up. Even today, he still has relatives in the
Clarksdale area, including his blues-playing nephew James “Super Chikan” Johnson
and brother-in-law Big Jack Johnson.
In St. Louis, Big George owned a series of blues clubs in the 1950s, 60s and 70s, including Club Caravan (formerly the Early Bird Lounge) – where his wife at the time was killed by stray bullets from a drunk’s pistol – and New Club Caravan. Later, Big George & the Houserockers was the house band at Climmie’s Western Inn for 12 years. During his career, Big George has played shows with blues legends like Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Jimmy Reed and many others. Garrick Feldman of the Arkansas Leader has said Big George is “about as good a harmonica player as any of the blues greats, and he knew and played with most of them.” At various times, he’s had fellow Mississippians Willie Foster, Big Bad Smitty, Terry “Big T” Williams, Jimbo Mathus and Bill Abel back him at shows, but most often, you’ll find him with one of the best “unknown guitar players” in the biz: Mr. Riley Coatie.
Compliments of http://www.stlblues.net/