Wednesday, March 05, 2008

T-Model Ford

Craig Charles has featured T-Model Ford a few times on his show. I thought I'd throw a bit more light on the man:

T-Model's credentials are impeccable; if anything he's over qualified. He was born James Lewis Carter Ford in Forrest, a small community in Scott County, Mississippi. T-Model thinks he's seventy-five but isn't sure. He was plowing a field behind a mule on his family's farm by age eleven, and in his early teens he secured a job at a local sawmill. He excelled and was later recruited by a foreman from a bigger lumber company in the Delta, near Greenville, and eventually got promoted to truck driver.

During the time he spent driving and working in a log camp, T-Model ran into trouble, and was eventually sentenced to ten years on a chain-gang for murder. He lucked out and was released after serving two. He says, grinning, "I could really stomp some ass back then, stomp it good. I was a-sure-enough dangerous man." When asked how many times he'd been to jail, T-Model responded, "I don't know. How many?" He seemed to think it might be a trick question. Upon realizing it wasn't, he answered to the best of his ability. "Every Saturday night there for awhile." As disheartening as this is, it's also a refreshing reminder of how ridiculous the present image of a bluesman is. Nothing could be more twisted than the romanticized and picturesque old black man devoid of anger and rage happily strumming an acoustic guitar on the back porch of his shack "in that evening sun". T-Model couldn't be further from this fabricated image.

At 3/4 of a century old and with a dislocated hip, hes still cussing, fighting, and outdrinking men a quarter his age. Spam to his friends,Tommy Lee Miles to the authorities, he has been T-Model's A-number-one drummer for the past eight years. T-Model and Spam are the only men still playing on Greenville's Nelson Street. Most of the audience has scattered due to violence from the crack trade, and with the exception of T-Model, the street that once boasted Booba Barnes and others is dead. On a typical night Spam and T-Model will arrive at the club and unpack T-Model's guitar and amp, and the bass drum and snare he allows Spam to use. When T-Model feels there are enough people, they start banging away in their own post-war Peavey-powered hill stomp. It's nothing unusual for T-Model to play eight hours a night. They keep going until no one's left standing. After his equipment's packed up T-Model will coat himself with Off and climb into his van to crash.

Check out the man's MySpace to listen to his music and to find out more about him.

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