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Cool Drink Of Water Blues

Houston Stackhouse


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Houston Stackhouse
Plays Tommy Johnson


Houston Stackhouse (guitar and vocal), and Joe Willie Wilkins (2nd guitar) perform Tommy Johnson's "Cool Drink Of Water Blues" in Memphis, Tennessee on January 19th 1976.

Stackhouse was born Houston Goff, in Wesson, Mississippi. Relocating with his family to Crystal Springs, Mississippi, in his teens he became inspired listening to local musicians and by the recordings of Blind Blake, Blind Lemon Jefferson and Lonnie Johnson. By the late 1930s, Stackhouse had played guitar around the Delta states and worked with members of the Mississippi Sheiks as well as Robert Johnson, and Charlie McCoy. He also teamed up with his distant cousin, Robert Nighthawk, whom he taught how to play guitar. Originally a fan of Tommy Johnson, Stackhouse often covered his songs. In 1946, Stackhouse moved to Helena, Arkansas to live near to Nighthawk, and for a time was a member of Nighthawk’s band, playing on KFFA radio.

He split from Nighthawk in 1947 and alongside the drummer James "Peck" Curtis, appeared on KFFA's "King Biscuit Time" program, with the guitar player Joe Willie Wilkins plus pianists Pinetop Perkins and Robert Traylor. Sonny Boy Williamson II then rejoined the show, and that combo performed across the Delta, using their radio presence to advertise their concert performances.

Stackhouse tutored both Jimmy Rogers and Sammy Lawhorn on guitar techniques. Between 1948 and 1954, Stackhouse worked during the day at the Chrysler plant in West Helena, Arkansas, and played the blues in his leisure time. He did not move from the South, unlike many of his contemporaries, and continued to perform locally into the 1960s with Frank Frost, Boyd Gilmore and Baby Face Turner. In May 1965, Sonny Boy Williamson II, who was by then back on "King Biscuit Time", utilised Stackhouse when he was recorded in concert by Chris Strachwitz of Arhoolie Records. The recording was issued under Williamson's name, titled King Biscuit Time. Shortly afterwards, Williamson died, but Stackhouse continued briefly on the radio program, back in tandem with Nighthawk. Houston Stackhouse died at age of 69 in Helena, Arkansas on September 23, 1980.

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