STUBBY KNUCKLES BACK IN D.C. by Almost Slim
Itinerant bluesman piano player and singer, Stubby Knuckles, is now back in town tickling the ivories wherever they're fool enough to let him in. His style is reminiscent of the traditional Chicago blues piano sound of Otis Spann or of Memphis Slim with a New Orleans twist.
Stubby played in New Orleans' French Quarter and at the Tipitina's piano bar in the twilight years of Professor Longhair. There in 1980 he opened up for John Lee Hooker and rubbed shoulders with other blues luminaries. After New Orleans, the Knuckleman spent time in Chicago. Here he made the acquaintance of Sunnyland Slim and Jimmy Dawkins, among others. The Alabama bluesman and gambler, Big Chief Ellis (Sonny Terry and Brownie McGee's old piano player) was also a big influence. He's played with Black Top recording artist Bobby Radcliff and has shared the stage with Jerry Portnoy, member of the late Muddy Waters' Legendary Blues Band and the harp player on Eric Clapton's From The Cradle blues CD.
Almost (but not quite) famous by association, Mr. Knuckles continues to be one of the biggest unknowns in the world's underground blues circuit. "I never practice," says Stubby, "doing that would take off that raggedy edge, that falling apart sound. I'm a time-breaker - that's the blues."
Often feeling like he is doomed to live the scruffy life of a bluesman, Stubby laments, "Most people think that blues is all about 'getting drunk and losing your baby.' It is. But it's much more than that too. It's all about reaching way down deep into a wellspring of optimism to find some peace in this crazy world. By and large, life is suffering. And blues music represents a way of life that urges us to be and become something simpler, better and stronger - in spite of ourselves. How's that for stating a case for the blues?"
Stubby hastens to add, "For me, blues is not just the backbone of jazz or the granddaddy of rock 'n' roll but slithers around through everything, from country tunes to lounge lizard classics and even into the dementia of Tom Lehrer. Blues is the soulful, animating essence of sound, heartfelt meaning adorning the beauty of silence." ( To hire him,
click here: Book A Gig )
"I grew up here in Washington," says Stubby, in a town called Friendship Heights, just over the DC line. Most times this place seems like a cesspool of soulless prattle. Really, I have a love/hate relationship with my hometown. If you leave here for any length of time and get a feel for what life is like outside the Beltway, you know there's hope for humanity. Still, the microcosmic cultural ecology of family and friends always brightens the dullest of spots."
Stubby always guarantees two fistfuls of the blues. When he's in town and on the 88s, you'll always be in good hands - the hands of Stubby Knuckles, that is.