Detroit guitarist Little Junior Cannady is making his second straight appearance at the Ann Arbor Blues & Jazz Festival.
Junior's story begins in Memphis when he started getting into the blues as a kid: "I'd be riding my bike past honky-tonks and hear Johnny Lee Hooker on the juke singing the 'Hobo Blues' . There'd be girls inside all painted up and screaming. I knew then I had to sing too. I got my first guitar by fishing cockroaches out of garbage cans and selling them to the minnow shop for a nickel apiece. When I had enough money saved, my uncle took me down to Beale Street and got me a Silvertone."
Junior moved to Detroit in 1950 where he caught up with his youthful inspiration, John Lee Hooker. Junior recalls the two getting busted together "within four hours" of the time they met - he says they "got acquainted with each other in jail."
Professional appearances for the young bluesman began auspiciously in Chicago in 1959 when he appeared with Elmore James. Since that time Jr. has played with such notables as Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Sonny Boy Williamson, B.B. King, Luther Allison, Little Milton, and his mentor, John Lee Hooker, to name a few.
Until 1970, Junior had to supplement his income working on the killing auto assembly lines. But the gigs became more plentiful and these days his music is in demand all over this country and abroad. He's played in Pensacola, Florida, Panama City, in Birmingham, England (where an album of his sold over 25,000 copies), and recently in Minneapolis.
After you dig Little Junior live, you can take his energy home with you, surely, via a plastic preservative in the shape of a recent 45 available on Detroit's Big Star label, "Don't Turn Your Love On Me So Strong" b/w "I Got My Eyes On You."
--- Bill Adler