Thursday, April 21, 2005

Memorial for a bluesman

You would think that being the editor and writer of an entertainment and leisure section for the premiere mortgage website would not entail anything in the way of heartbreak. But you'd be surprised.

I'm doing research for a column about the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival which starts tomorrow. The more I read the more I want to be there. I'm busy doing a little research on some artists I want to feature and I find a fellow called Cootie Stark.

Cootie Stark has been described as "a breathing music-box library of the blues," and "One of the last authentic Piedmont blues guitarist/singers alive today." I read how he has played the guitar for fifty years and how his mother said he would sign as a baby. I read about how the life of a traveling bluesman is rough on the mind and body - no surprise there - and how blind Cootie Stark ended up in the Woodland Homes Projects in Greenville, NC in the 80s.

In 1997 he was discovered there by Tim Duffy of the Music Maker's Relief Foundation, who got him an acoustic guitar and kickstarted his career, leading to two new albums, Sugar Man and Raw Sugar. Now he's scheduled to appear at Jazz Fest and much to my dismay I find this which relates that Cootie Stark died on the 16th of this month.

God bless you Cootie. I hope you found the perfect audience and you're playing the guitar right now, in the celestial choir.


Addendum - I worried about that Greenville, NC thing, which is straight from my original source because I thought Greenville is in SC. Sure enough Kevin verifies that SC is correct. Thanks Kevin!


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