C.C. Rider the Venerator: Big Bill Broonzy


This is the latest from The Bluesmobile’s C.C. Rider, who spends her life venerating the founding fathers of the blues. She’s walked the crooked highways of this singing country to resurrect the voices of the past. With the dirt of the Delta on her hands, she sleeps in the shadow of the giants on whose shoulders popular music now stands.

Big Bill Broonzy

Big-Bill-BroonzyIn the 1950’s, Big Bill Broonzy was one of the first Bluesmen to tour all over the U.S. and throughout Europe.  He was a leading figure in what they called the Folk Revival.

And to me I think that all the songs in the world that you sing is folk songs because horse don’t sing songs that I’ve been around to hear. So I call ’em all folks songs.

And Big Bill had a big repertoire of songs.  See, by the 1950’s, Big Bill Broonzy had been successful in the business for years. Over his thirty-year career he waxed just shy of a thousand songs—and those are just the ones he’s credited on. I love all his stuff, but there’s really nothin’ like those early tracks.

Big Bill started off as a rural player, comin’ up the river from Mississippi, landing in Chicago.  And boy could the big man shred the blues.

But Bill was adaptable. He took those country skills and established a new urban sound. His distinctive style and killer pickin’ made him one of the most in demand guitarists of the day. Whether on the street or in the studio.

You’d be hard pressed to find a Chicago artist he didn’t work with. Broonzy backed the likes of Sonny Boy Williamson, Memphis Minnie, Washboard Sam, and Gospel’s Georgia Tom.

Here’s a great track. Recorded around 1933. Big Bill Broonzy on vocals and guitar. Georgia Tom Dorsey on the keys. “I’m a Southern Man.”

Find out more about Big Bill Broonzy at C.C. Rider’s Website