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'Pinetop Perkins And Friends' Proves You're Never Too Old to Play the Blues


Pianist Pinetop Perkins, 94, is living proof that you're never too old to play the blues. VOA's Doug Levine tells us about Pinetop's latest album, which had some top names from rock and blues answering the call to record with him.

Pinetop Perkins spent so many years performing in the Mississippi Delta that it was just a matter of time before he crossed paths with another up-and-coming bluesman, guitarist B.B. King. The two worked together briefly in Memphis, Tennessee, but it was enough to cement a lifelong friendship and a recent musical reunion on the track "Down In Mississippi," from the new tribute album Pinetop Perkins And Friends.

Labeling Pinetop Perkins a "late bloomer" is an understatement. After switching from guitar to piano, Perkins hit the blues circuit with "Sonny Boy" Williamson, Robert Nighthawk and Willie Dixon. He worked with Muddy Waters for 12 years before launching his heralded solo career in the early-1970s.

Eighty may sound like the perfect age for retirement, but in 1992, Perkins was just getting started. He recorded a string of solo albums, capped by a 2005 Grammy Award for Lifetime Achievement. Perkins earned another Grammy earlier this year for his appearance on the album, Last Of The Great Mississippi Delta Bluesman: Live In Dallas.

No stranger to music awards, Eric Clapton contributes his signature guitar sound to the medley, "How Long Blues/Come Back Baby." Pinetop Perkins gets a little help from guitar great Eric Clapton on "How Long Blues."

Also contributing on Pinetop And Friends are guitarists Jimmie Vaughan, Eric Sardinas, bass player Willie Kent, drummer Willie "Big Eyes" Smith, and blues diva Nora Jean Bruso, who adds backup vocals to the Pinetop Perkins original "Take It Easy Baby."