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Henry Townsend

Mr. Henry Townsend, our Blues Partriarch!Henry Townsend (pictured here with good friend Oliver Sain) has recorded in every decade since the twenties. Born in 1909 in Shelby Mississippi, he ran away from his family to St Louis where, as a teenager he heard Lonnie Johnson and other St Louis legends developing the blues sound. Henry was influenced by local barber Henry Spaulding's recording of "Cairo Blues" and his boyhood friend, David Perchfield. An obscure St Louis blues legend named Dudlow Joe took Henry around with him to the poolhalls and bars and helped him learn the blues circuit.
In 1929, an audition was arranged by a music store competitive of Jesse Johnson's; Sam Woolf. Sam's shop was at 15th and Biddle, and perhaps his only offering to the history of the blues was Henry Townsend, for he recorded for Paramount and Columbia in that year. Henry's music benefited from associations with Roosevelt Sykes and Walter Davis. In 1937 in, Big Joe Williams, Robert Nighthawk and Sonny Boy Williamson traveled to Aurora Illinois with Henry and other St Louisans to record one of the most influential sessions of the Prewar period. The songs from this meeting shaped the blues and influenced the direction of the genre. Today Henry lives in a modest home in St Louis and fulfills his role as the last remaining descendant of the early blues. His latest release is The "88" Blues, which makes 8 consecutive decades of musical recordings! Want to learn more on this St. Louis Blues Patriarch? Here's his most recent interview, enjoy!
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