Seems Like A Dream by Wilburt Lee Reliford on Big Legal Mess Records (the album cover features a black and white photograph of Reliford playing a harmonica against a powder blue background).

Wilburt Lee Reliford - Seems Like A Dream

BIG LEGAL MESS RECORDS

  • £16.99

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AVAILABLE TO PRE-ORDER NOW! 
EXPECTED RELEASE DATE: FRIDAY 20TH AUGUST 2021 

 

Wilbert Lee Reliford, a blind harmonica player, vocalist and occasional guitarist was a staple of the North Mississippi juke joint and house party scene. Born in 1924 near Rossville, Tennessee, the hometown of Mississippi Fred McDowell, he grew up near Chulahoma, Mississippi, the location of Junior Kimbrough’s infamous juke joint. 

He lost his sight at the age of 11 after a doctor treating him for Bright’s disease mistakenly took out his “good” eye. “I cried many night after going blind,” Reliford told Sylvester Oliver. “I prayed a lot too, and between time I learned to play guitar and got better on harp.” Reliford learned his first harmonica licks from a family friend, Katherine Holloway, and studied the records of fellow west Tennessee native John Lee “Sonny Boy” Williamson. He was inspired to play guitar by local bluesman Monroe “Guy” Jackson, who built Reliford’s first instrument from a candy box. 

Reliford mostly stuck to the harmonica, saying that he preferred the accompaniment of a good guitarist - his partners included Henry Hardin and Claudell Campbell - and became known as the “champ” of the diminutive instrument through his gigs at “gin houses” across the hill country and as far away as Clarksdale in the Delta. His engagements sometimes lasted all weekend, playing for gamblers in juke joints and oil-lit barns. 

“They would want you to play all day and all night for them … They just wanted some music going. Usually there would be no dancing … Sometimes a few women were around, but most of the time it was just men. They wanted music to console the gamblers.” 

In the 1980's Reliford gained broader, albeit limited, attention through playing regularly at events including the Annual Northeast Mississippi Blues Festival, staged by Oliver at Holly Springs’ Rust College, and the Memphis Music and Heritage Festival, as well as through television appearances with the Rust College Studio Band. The recordings here were made in 1989 by Dutch researcher Ko de Korte, with a modern redux lent to the band tracks by producers Bruce Watson and Will Sexton. 

Reliford died on July 30, 1993 and is buried in Lamar, in Benton County, at Greenwood Missionary Baptist Church Cemetery. 

 

TRACKLIST: 
  1. Seem Like A Dream 
  2. Coal Black Mattie 
  3. Sugar Mama 
  4. Going Away 
  5. Tappin' That Thing 
  6. Hello Stranger 
  7. Somebody's Knockin' 
  8. I Won't Be Back No More 
  9. Peaches 
  10. Rock Me 
  11. I'm Gonna Leave 
  12. Call Mama 

 

  • US import 
  • CD housed in digipack case 

 

 

also available on Big Legal Mess Records: 
Junior Kimbrough - First Recordings   LP 

 

browse collections: 
Blues collection 

Americana collection 

 

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