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Sonny Terry & Brownie McGee – Drinkin’ Wine

Sonny Terry & Brownie McGee

Can it get any better than watching Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee sing about wine? While performing on the BBC? We think this is an awesome idea and they did just that!  Harp wizard Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee, a great guitar picker had a long relationship when it came to blues.  Although they were blues performers, they remained an acoustic act, and therefore were closely embraced more by the folk music community.  Sonny came from North Carolina, while McGhee hailed from Tennessee.

Working Partnership

In 1942 the duo began performing with each other in between working on their own projects.  This proved to be a lucrative partnership for both musicians. After WWII, they were constantly performing in the flourishing jazz and blues scene, touring and in the studio working on projects.  Despite their affable stage act, the two men did not get along too well personally as the years went by. On the 1973 album ‘Sonny and Brownie’ with John Mayall and John Hammond Jr. they banter like old friends.

But outside the studio they would barely talk. It finally came to the point where they would be billed together, but Sonny would play with another guitarist and then Brownie would do a solo set.  They stopped performing together in the late 70’s.  Terry defined a style of harmonica that is still a cornerstone of the blues tradition. With his longtime partner, guitarist Brownie McGhee, Terry was a key figure in integrating blues into the folk music scene in the 1940s and 1950s. Terry and McGhee were among the first bluesmen to reach a national and international audience, many of whom had never heard the blues before.  Elements of Sonny’s ‘whoppin’ style can be heard in most harp players work today, and Brownie’s skill and versatility is a model for any young guitarist.  

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BBC – Video


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