"...fast, clean, aggressive picking,
inventive bass patterns, extraordinary polyrhythmic dexterity, and such
violent string snapping that he must have literally torn the strings
off more than one guitar."
Willie Brown was an indispensable sideman to both
Charley Patton and Son House. As such, he had a direct influence
on blues throughout its adolescence and blues players throughout their
lives. As a young boy, Robert Johnson sat at Willie’s feet
and watched as he and Son House performed.
One of the most celebrated recording sessions in
blues history was on May 28, 1930 when Charley Patton, Willie Brown,
Son House and Louise Johnson went to Grafton, Wisconsin. While
Willie recorded as backup guitar countless times throughout his life,
the only time he recorded solo was at this Grafton session where he
performed 4 tunes. Only two of these recordings survive.
One of them is Future Blues.
We go to Robinsonville, home for a time to Willie
Brown and Son House. Today the old downtown is mostly boarded up
brick buildings. Behind one of them, back to a brick wall, facing
an open field while a John Deere cotton picker works across Highway 61,
it’s easy to sing Willie’s song. And yet, it’s
eerie to realize, this is the future.