'Little Bill' still giving us the Blues

A son gets to see (and hear) a Northwest musical legend get his due
Crosscut archive image.

'Little Bill' and son Tony

A son gets to see (and hear) a Northwest musical legend get his due

Little Bill is, and always will be, just Dad to me.

While other dads went off to the office, the shop or the store to work, he went to nightclubs to sing and perform. This seemed totally normal to me, but unusually cool to my friends. Whenever I'ꀙd go see Dad play, I was proud, but not overly excited; after all, it was his job. Same deal when he released a new recording or won an award. All part of the job.

However, when I found out that his music would be recorded by 60 fellow musicians for a CD entitled Big Blues for Little Bill, I admit it: I was very proud and very excited. And knowing that the proceeds were going to benefit research for a condition which I'ꀙve had since the age of 13 — Dystonia — makes me even more so.

Little Bill, for many, is the grandfather of Northwest blues. He started playing guitar after he got polio at the age of 10. In his teens, Bill was introduced to the blues and started the first rock-n-roll band in Tacoma, the Blue Notes. In 1959 the group went into the studio to record a few songs. One of the tunes they laid down during the session was I Love an Angel, which went on to become a national hit. After a brief stint as a pop artist, Bill returned to the music he loved, the blues, and stayed there. Now, after more than 50 years in the business, he still performs at least 100 shows a year and is showing no signs of slowing down.

Big Blues for Little Bill was the brainchild of one-time Blue Note, Randy Oxford and features some of the brightest blues players in the Northwest. On March 28 all these all-stars will converge at Tacoma's Rialto Theater. Artists include Henry Cooper performing Comin' Home; Billy Roy and the Rectifires performing Texas,; Patti Allen and the Randy Oxford Band performing Another Rainy Day; Merrilee Rush and Rusty Williams performing Better Things to Do and the Blues Vesper'ꀙs All-Stars featuring Leanne Trevalyan, Paul Green, Mark Riley, Jho Blenis and Jim King who will perform Thangs Gonna Be.

Of course Little Bill and the Blue Notes will be on hand to throw down some blues.


Please support independent local news for all.

We rely on donations from readers like you to sustain Crosscut's in-depth reporting on issues critical to the PNW.


About the Authors & Contributors