Over the past six decades, Pinetop Perkins has performed a number of the world’s foremost blues masters, performing alongside Robert Nighthawk and Sonny Boy Williamson in 1940s, and later, taking residency at the piano in Muddy Waters’ legendary band for over a decade. Since branching out on his own in 1985, Perkins has released a plethora of acclaimed albums, and won the W.C. Handy Award for best blues pianist so many times that the award was ultimately named after him to give someone else a shot at winning.
When Perkins announced his intention to record a live disc, many of his friends insisted on joining in. Old friend B.B. King was amongst the first to join, bringing his precious Lucille along for “Down in Mississippi,” the land both famed bluesmen once called home. Jimmie Vaughn joined for four songs, “Hoochie Coochie Man,” “Anna Lee,” “Look On Yonders Wall,” and “Take It Easy, Baby.”
Recognizing the fact that the blues is not just about the old veterans, Perkins also invited young slide guitar wiz Eric Sardinas to join in on “Barefootin’” and “Got My Mojo Working,” the famous call and response anthem that Perkins has performed with Waters many times over the years. But, in the end, it is an another veteran that brings forth the biggest howls of the nights, as none other than Eric Clapton took the stage for a relaxed medley of “How Long Blues” and “Come Back Baby.”
Pinetop Perkins has seen many of the blues masters come and go. While the blues has gone through many transformations throughout his years, Perkins’ trademark boogie-woogie piano remains one of the most recognizable sounds the famed genre has ever bred. Joined here by many of the friends he has backed over the years, Perkins relishes the limelight, proving himself to be ever bit as masterful a showman at age 94 as he was when he first took a stage over 60 years ago.
Pinetop Perkins and Friends is out now on Telarc.