Authentic blues from the octogenarian
Born James Lewis Carter Ford in Forrest, a small community in Scott County, Mississippi, myth, mystery and awe surround the life of the blues musician better known as T-Model Ford. His exact age, for instance, is unknown even to him, although he is believed to be in his late 80s, and he was ploughing a field behind a mule on his family’s farm aged 11, later working at a sawmill in his teens and then as a truck driver.
He’s had his brushes with the law too, including being sentenced to ten years for murder, released after two. ‘I could really stomp some ass back then, stomp it good,’ he once said. ‘I was a sure-enough dangerous man.’
He started his musical career at the age of 58 when his fifth wife bought him his first guitar, pioneering his own brand of grizzled, authentic Mississippi blues. ‘I never seen Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf,’ he explained. ‘I’d just hear the music on the street, and stop to listen at it. I liked that sound.’
Working with Fat Possum Records, T-Model is touring with Seattle-based band GravelRoad, and it’s apparently not uncommon for him to play for eight hours a day, often with the memorable refrain: ‘T-Model Ford is going to remember you sorry fuckers how it’s done.’
The man also known as ‘The Taildragger’ certainly shows no signs of slowing down, and once dreamt that he’ll live to 110. But he admitted: ‘Only the good lord knows when I’m gonna stop.’
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