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James Cotton On World Cafe | September 5, 2013

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  • Christopher Durst/Courtesy of the artist

Harmonica master James Cotton is a giant of the blues. Born in 1935 on a cotton plantation in Tunica, Miss., he learned the instrument from Sonny Boy Williamson, who had a radio program right across the river in West Helena, Ark. After listening to the show and imitating him on a harmonica, Cotton met Williamson, who took him under his wing.

At 15, Cotton met and played with Howlin' Wolf, who took him to record at Sun Studios in Memphis. Later, while on tour, Muddy Waters asked Cotton to replace Junior Wells in his band; Cotton stayed on the road with Waters for a dozen years.

During the 1970s, Cotton was a staple of high-energy shows in rock arenas. Despite losing his voice after surgery for throat cancer, Cotton still performs, and has just released the largely autobiographical album Cotton Mouth Man. (via World Cafe)


(( )) for interlude music

The Allman Brothers “One Way Out” Eat A Peach
Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears “Come To My Party” Electric Slave
Susan Tedeschi “Gonna Move” Wait For Me
James Cotton “Straighten Up Baby” Sun Singles
Muddy Waters “Sugar Sweet” Anthology
James Cotton “Rocket 88” 100% Cotton
((James Cotton "Mississippi Mud” Recorded Live for the World Café))
James Cotton “Bird Nest On the Ground” Recorded Live for the World Cafe
James Cotton “He Was There” Recorded Live for the World Cafe
James Cotton “Mississippi Mud” Recorded Live for the World Cafe
James Cotton “Saint On Sunday” Recorded Live for the World Cafe 
((James Cotton “Bird Nest On the Ground” Recorded Live for the World Café))
Daughn Gibson “Kissin’ On the Blacktop” Me Moan
The Iguanas “Oye Isabel” Neuvo Boogaloo
Houndmouth “Penitentiary” From the Hills Below the City
The Grateful Dead “Candyman” American Beauty
Kurt Vile “Shame Chamber” Wakin’ On A Pretty Daze
Typhoon “Young Fathers” White Lighter
Blood Sweat & Tears “I Can’t Quit Her” Child Is Father To the Man
Frank Turner “Recovery” Tape Deck Heart
Squeeze “Farfisa Beat” Argybargy
((Billy Cobham "Stratus" Spectrum))
Fruko Y Sus Tesos “Catalina Del Mar” 30 Pegaditas De Oro
Joe Arroyo “A Mi Dios Todo Le Debo” 30 Pegaditas De Oro
((Pedrito Martinez Group "Que Palo" Demo))
Dr. Dog “Broken Heart” B-Room
John Butler Trio “Zebra” Sunrise Over Sea
Haim “The Wire” Days Are Gone
Son Volt “Windfall” Trace
Iron & Wine “The Desert Babbler” Ghost on Ghost
((Yeasayer "Worms" All Hour Cymbals))