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Sam Carr, Bluesman, Dies

Blues guitarist and singer Terence McArdle works on the local desk at The Post, and whenever a blues figure dies, he's clamors to write the story. His story on Jelly Roll Kings drummer Sam Carr, who died Sept. 21, will appear tomorrow.

McArdle writes:

The music of the Jelly Roll Kings -- Mr. Carr, guitarist Jack Johnson and pianist/harp player Frank Frost -- was raw electric Delta blues; a reminder of a time when such music was made in Mississippi and Arkansas' rural roadhouses, "juke joints" that hosted gambling and often served moonshine whiskey.

He was one of the last living musicians to have backed the legendary Sonny Boy Williamson (Rice Miller) on the radio in Helena, Ark., and first recorded with Frank Frost for Sun Records, the legendary Memphis record label that launched Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis.

As a musician in an impoverished part of the country, Mr. Carr spent much of his life as a sharecropper and tried to strike a balance between farming and his music. Large scale agribusiness has largely replaced the sharecropping system in the Delta but many in the region still live in rural poverty.

Here are some interviews and performance clips with Mr. Carr and other blues musicians such as Pinetop Perkins, Jack Johnson and Little Milton from The Delta Blues Project, a multi-media presentation by photographer and videographer Gail Mooney.

In Gail Mooney's words, "I wanted to tell the story of these musicians apart from their music. I was interested in their cultural stories -- about the area they grew up in, the Delta, and how that gave birth to their music -- the blues."

The project is by no means finished. She relates some of her experiences and thoughts about Sam Carr in her blog.

There's no substitute for seeing him play:

By Adam Bernstein |  September 30, 2009; 12:44 PM ET  | Category:  Musicians
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