Lonely at the 'Top

Don’t put Pinetop Perkins in a pine box — because he’s still got things to do. At a few weeks shy of his 95th birthday, Perkins, who joins Koko Taylor for a taping of tonight’s etown radio show, can no longer hear well enough to conduct telephone interviews, but he still plays piano and sings the blues in a style he knows very well, having practically invented it.

Born in 1913, early in President Woodrow Wilson’s first term, Perkins grew up on Mississippi blues, and when he came of age, he shared his keyboarding skills with players such as Sonny Boy Williamson and Earl Hooker. But he didn’t receive the attention he deserved until joining Muddy Waters’s band for a decade-plus stint beginning in 1969, during which he contributed mightily to late-period Waters masterworks such as 1977’s suggestively titled Hard Again and the next year’s I’m Ready. He subsequently joined other Waters alums in a group dubbed the Legendary Blues Band — an example of truth in advertising if ever there was one — before concentrating on a solo career that got rolling in earnest circa the late ’80s, when he was already well beyond what most of us consider to be retirement age. And he’s still going strong. The just-released Pinetop Perkins and Friends features guest appearances by a blues who’s-who, including B.B. King and Eric Clapton. They’re lucky he’s still in ’Top form.

Perkins and Taylor get under way at 8 p.m. at Chautauqua Auditorium, 900 Baseline Road in Boulder; tickets are $31 to $34. Learn more at 303-440-7666 or www.etown.org.
Thu., June 19, 8 p.m., 2008


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