What harm could ever befall a woman as strong as Big Mama?
February 16, 2017 9:02 AM   Subscribe

The Thinning of Big Mama: If you want to see “Big Mama” Thornton singing the blues in her prime, look up her performance of “Ball and Chain” with Buddy Guy and his band, filmed at Boston public television station WBGH’s studio in 1970, when she was forty-four. The occasion was a music show called “Mixed Bag.” (SL Oxford American/Youtube)
posted by mandolin conspiracy (5 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
Great post! I must confess I'd never known about her before, but currently listening to her YouTube playlist and will be enjoying her music for the rest of the day.
posted by Atom Eyes at 9:39 AM on February 16

In the 80's Big Mama spent several months in Montreal playing with a local band. She was very thin. Between sets she would sit on stage at a little table drinking gin and milk. She wore a plastic straw cowboy hat with a whistle. When it was time for the next set she would blow the whistle. Sometimes she chose a harmonica and deliberately called out the wrong key just to fuck the band up and keep them on their toes.
She was fond of these Montreal musicians and would phone them from California to say hi. Imagine answering your phone some afternoon and finding Big Mama Thornton on the end of the line.
posted by Jode at 9:49 AM on February 16 [3 favorites]

Man, that 1970 performance is killer. And what a life: "Amidst this hostile work environment, Big Mama witnessed the suicide of one of Robey’s artists, Johnny Ace, playing Russian roulette in a dressing room in 1954." Thanks for the post!
posted by languagehat at 1:52 PM on February 16 [1 favorite]

that vid blew me away. I love Big Mama.

Thanks for a great post!
posted by james33 at 7:01 AM on February 17 [2 favorites]

Thanks, mandolin conspiracy, for a terrific, informative & eye-opening post.
posted by On the Corner at 1:56 AM on February 22

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