Friday, 5 October 2012 | Art Schuna
I had the privilege of interviewing David Honeyboy Edwards in October 2003. It was a remarkable in that although he was 88 years old at the time, he had an amazing recall of events from his lifetime going back to the earliest days of his life as a blues artist. He got his start in the pre-war era and learned how to busk on the streets from Big Joe Williams. He was one of the last living blues musicians who was a contemporary of Robert Johnson and performed with him. He knew many of the blues greats from the pre-war era. His interview covers not only discussions about many of the bluesmen he worked with over the years but also what life was like at that time. He talks about hoboing to travel from town to town and being harassed by the police. He also talks about his life as a gambler and how to cheat at dice. Honeyboy wrote a book about his life, “The World Don’t Owe Me Nothing” published by Chicago Review Press which is still in press and is definitely worth tracking down as there are very few autobiographies of blues performers from this era. I had the good fortune of seeing Honeyboy in performance on a number of occasions. The last was the next to the last time he ever performed in public at Folklore Village in Dodgeville. He was 95 yeas old. He was joined by Michael Frank, owner of Earwig records who released a number of Honeyboy’s recordings including “Delta Bluesman”, which has his first recording for Alan Lomax and the Library of Congress together with more contemporary recordings. All of his recordings are worth having. A few of my favorites are “Mississippi Delta Bluesman” released on the Smithsonian-Folkways label originally in 1970. “Don’t Mistreat A Fool” on the Genes label, “Shake Em On Down” on APO and “White Windows” on Evidence are also favorites. We lost Honeyboy August 29,2011. It marked the end of an era as he was probably the last pre-war performer and the last direct connection to blues artists of that era. Click on the title above to go to the interview.