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James DeShay

Mr. and Mrs. James DeshayJames DeShay's first "guitar" was a one-string rig he concoted by nailing a piece of baling wire to a post and tightening it with a snuff box. From that single-string instrument he was able to play melodies and change pitch by mashing down on the wire. DeShay's earliest influences included the great Charlie Patton, Howlin' Wolf and Robert Jr. Lockwood.
James was already an accomplished guitar player when he moved to St. Louis in the mid 40's, when he struck up a friendship with Little Walter Jacobs with whom he played around town. James often also worked with Robert Nighthawk and Big Joe Williams. By the early 1950's he had his own band, and by the 1960's his own tavern which he operated and played in. (The BBC shot footage of James there in 1976 for part of the 'Devil's Music' series) Sadly, James never recorded commercially, but his memory and music lives on in all his fans.
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