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International Blues Challenge news From Kim 'Who Dat' Welsh
Kimbeaux WelshBy Kim 'Fest Junkie' Welsh

T- Model FordOn a recent sticky sweet Saturday night, just steps off touristy Bourbon Street, One Eyed Jack’s turned into a real deal juke joint, if only for the evening. T-Model Ford, one of the oldest touring bluesmen, brought his raw, menacing Mississippi blues to the Crescent City. After eating at Camellia Grill on Decatur Street, his family pushed his wheelchair to the venue as he chatted with all the females he saw on the way. “Do you know who I am? I’m playing at this club down the street; come see me!”

Inside, the quintessential ladies man enjoyed the attention of his many fans as he signed records and flirted playfully. On stage, he played hypnotic repetitive blues progressions and two-chord shuffles with a heavy Hill Country “trance” influence. Marty Reinsel accompanied him on drums on all songs except “Hip Shakin’ Woman” on which his promising young grandson, Stud, sat in. Marty has been backing T-Model with GravelRoad for the last three years, including accompanying him on his most recent album “Taledragger,” (Alive Records, 2011.) The set list included Hip Shakin' Woman, Mean Ol' Frisco, Somebody's Knockin, I Wore my Body for so Long, Big Legged Woman, My Babe, Train I Ride, Big Boss Man, Sallie Mae, Little Red Rooster medley, Chicken Head Man and Cut you Loose. The current tour is jokingly called the "Hip Shakin’ Woman Tour” due to T'-Model’s love of playing that song repeatedly in the same performance.

Nowadays, T-Model is always under the caring eyes of his new wife, Stella, who danced around him and nourished him with Jack Daniels occasionally, followed by a big swig for herself. T-Model never misses a beat despite insertion of a pacemaker in 2008 and a mild stroke in April of 2010; he continues to play and sing with an intensity and consistency that belies his age. Now 90ish years young, the self-proclaimed “Boss of the Blues” continues to show his strengths which include his weathered yet still sharp voice. Playing the blues is his life; he knows no other way...

James Lewis Carter Ford, also known as T-Model Ford and “The Taledragger” was born in Forest, Mississippi around 1921 or 1922 and lives in Greenville, Mississippi. He began his musical career with Fat Possum Records in his early seventies after getting a guitar from his fifth wife as a goodbye gift. He never learned to read music or guitar tabs; rather, he mimics the sound of those who inspired him: Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, Junior Kimbrough, and Howlin’ Wolf.

Ford grew up working various jobs such as plowing fields, working at a sawmill and later becoming a lumber company foreman, and finally a truck driver. However, when reflecting on this time in his life, Ford recalls, "I could really stomp some ass back then. I was a sure enough dangerous man.” Ford served two years of a ten year sentence on a chain gang for murder and jokes that he went to jail “every Saturday night for a while.” It’s hard to imagine that there was ever a mean bone in his body as he smiles sweetly, nods, and winks at me.

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  • T-Model Ford plays One-Eyed Jack's
  • T-Model Ford plays One-Eyed Jack's
  • T-Model Ford plays One-Eyed Jack's
  • T-Model Ford plays One-Eyed Jack's
  • T-Model Ford plays One-Eyed Jack's
  • T-Model Ford plays One-Eyed Jack's
  • T-Model Ford plays One-Eyed Jack's
  • T-Model Ford plays One-Eyed Jack's
  • T-Model Ford plays One-Eyed Jack's
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