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Willie Farmer is living proof that Mississippi continues to produce deep blues. The 62-year-old guitarist is neither a soul modernist nor revivalist, but simply a small-town auto mechanic who’s never shaken his love for old school legends like Muddy, Wolf and Lightnin’.
A lifelong resident of tiny Duck Hill, located in the hills east of the Delta, Farmer grew up on the family farm. He first took up the acoustic guitar in his early teens, and through picking cotton soon saved up enough money to buy an electric instrument.
He played for audiences at home and at school events and learned about blues and R&B mostly through listening to a powerful station out of Nashville.
“John R of WLAC, that’s how I listened to Lightnin’ Hopkins, Howlin’ Wolf. That’s how I got my first album by Lightnin’ [The Fire Records LP Mojo Hand]. I got the address off the radio and they sent it.”
“I learned Lightin’ pretty good, and then I went to B.B. I can play all the up-to-date stuff now—B.B., Little Milton—but I like the old stuff, that’s the real blues. The blues they’re singing today, that ain’t blues to me, it just doesn’t have the feel.”