Robert Johnson Tribute Lines Up Blues Legends
The lineup for the fete is topped by Johnson’s stepson, Robert Lockwood Jr., and David “Honeyboy” Edwards, Johnson’s friend who was with him in a Mississippi juke joint the night he died in 1938.
Modern blues artists Chris Whitley, John Hammond and Guy Davis round out the bill, presented by American Legends Music Organization and the JVC Jazz Festival.
The artists will perform Johnson’s original material as well as songs influenced by the King of the Delta Blues.
Lockwood and Edwards, both 85, are among the last living links to the Johnson legacy and still perform regularly at blues festivals around the U.S.
Lockwood is said to have been taught to play guitar by Johnson himself, including his classic songs and innovative delta style. As a studio guitarist for Chess Records in Chicago, Lockwood recorded with Muddy Waters, Bo Diddley, Howlin’ Wolf, and Sonny Boy Williamson.
In 1989, he was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame, and in 1995 he received the National Endowment for the Arts’ “National Heritage Fellowship Award.”
Edwards traveled and played with Johnson for many years. Johnson’s 1938 death has always been surrounded by an air of intrigue, contradictions and plain fables, but Edwards’ consistent account of Johnson’s poisoning by a jealous husband is considered by many historians to be the most credible.
Like Lockwood, Edwards was also a session man for Chess Records in the 1950s. He worked clubs and street corners with Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Willie Dixon and Otis Spann.