Leo "Bud" Welch
Sounds Like: Chainsaw-guitar blues from the rural-Mississippi source.
For Fans of: Junior Kimbrough, T-Model Ford, Mississippi Fred McDowell
Why You Should Pay Attention: Following a half-century of mule plowing and logging, Leo "Bud" Welch, 82, made his recording debut in 2013 with Sabougla Voices, a powerful reflection of the hard electric gospel music he's played in the Sabougla Baptist Church and elsewhere for 27 years. And while churches outnumber juke joints by a wide margin in Mississippi, Welch decided to shake things up with I Don't Prefer No Blues, a throbbing album of distorted guitar and gravelly vocals titled after his pastor's initial response to Leo's stylistic departure. "I know you don't," Welch replied to the clergyman's blues bashing, "'cause you don't know anything about 'em." Welch saturates blues tunes extemporized largely on the fly, and now he has an international audience to bear witness.
He Says: "Too much wine can make you blind," cautions Welch on I Don't Prefer No Blues; so he prefers another beverage. "I drink a little to clear my throat. Give me some whiskey so I can bring my voice on up. If you singin' and you start off a song on a high key, you're like climbin' a tree startin' at the top. If you want to go higher, you can't go higher; all you can do is unlock and throw your ass back down on the ground. What keeps me playin' the blues is when I'm playing the guitar and there's two or three good-lookin' women over there. Someone'll holler, 'Sing it!' and I'll say, 'You said a mouthful, honey chile.' Yeah!"
Hear for Yourself: Two minutes into this video, Welch churns through the minimalist "I Don't Know What You Came to Do" at Otha Turner's Place in Mississippi. By Richard Gehr