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Nine O'clock Blues: Son Seals

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Son Seals was truly born into the Blues.

His father was Jim Seals, talented Blues musician and proprietor of The Dipsy Doodle, one of Arkansas’ top juke joints. That was a boon to Son as Osceola, Arkansas, had few opportunities for young African Americans when Son Seals was born in 1942 and growing up in the 1940s and 1950s.

With his father’s support Son was able to get a gig playing drums with Robert Nighthawk when he was only 13. At 16 Seals found another open door due to his being the brother-in-law of Little Walter and Son joined Walter at the T-99, which was THE upper echelon club in the Osceola area. It was at the T-99 that Seals had the chance to play with even more top artists including Bobby Blue Bland, Albert King, Rufus Thomas and Junior Parker.  


Son Seals formed his own band in 1961 and moved to Chicago in 1971 where he rapidly found success in the clubs of the south side.

Despite great success, Son’s life was anything but easy. He faced more than his share of bad times. In 1997 he required reconstructive surgery after he was shot in the jaw by his wife. Jealousy was suspected. In 1999 Son had a leg amputated due to complications from diabetes. Soon after he recovered enough to return to the road he lost most of his possessions including several favorite guitars in a house fire.

Son Seals never let those troubles get him down.

“Anytime I had a spell of sickness, all I’d want to do is get better so I could get back out there and play,” said Seals. “All I wanted to do is get better, so I could get back to work.”

The Blues world lost a master performer when diabetes finally caught up with and killed Son Seals in 2004.


Also on this week’s show we’ll hear from guitarist and vocalist Todd Tijerina who is a bit of an anomaly. Despite the fact that he was born and raised in Chicago, he didn’t discover the Blues until he moved to Albuquerque when he was 19. "Some friends of mine and my older sister had turned me on to Robert Cray and Stevie Ray Vaughan. Their styles were new and really grabbed me, like nothing I had heard before."

Since then B.B., Albert, and Freddie King, Otis Rush, Buddy Guy, Bo Diddley, Muddy Waters, T-Bone Walker and others have become major influences. As Todd got into playing guitar he added Smokin' Joe Kubek, Duke Robillard, Tab Benoit, Robben Ford, and Luther Alison to his must hear list.


Given his headquartering in Arizona until a move back to Chicago in 1997, it should come as no surprise that Todd and his band played in the Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado areas a lot in the 1990s. People in northern Colorado, including yours truly, got to know Tijerina when he would play the lost and lamented Colorado Feed and Grain Roadhouse in Timnath.

When you hear Todd Tijerina I think you’ll agree that he has learned his Blues lessons well.