Windsor Star

Bluesman Lil’ Ed honoured by award


Lil’ Ed Williams carries a lot of blues on those little shoulders.

The 55-year-old bluesman may be small in stature, but he stands tall among the dwindling number of Chicago’s blues originals.

The nephew of blues legend J.B. Hutto will be the 30th musician to be inducted into the Canada South Blues Museum in Windsor this weekend.

“This is an honour,” said a modest Williams earlier this week from his Chicago home.

“I’ll hang it up there with some of the other awards I’ve got over the years.”

Lil’ Ed and the Blues Imperials have been around in one form or another since the mid-1970s, when Williams and his half-brother, James “Pookie” Young, formed the first version of the band.

He’d been tinkering around with guitar since the age of 12, learning from Hutto and several other relatives who are profession­al or amateur players in the Chicago area.

Williams is noted for his wild showmanshi­p on stage, the toe-walking and hammy expression­s.

But his guitar playing is what attracted Chicago’s Alligator Records in the mid-1980s.

“I started out trying to do what my uncle J.B. did. But he told me before I played solos I had to learn the chords. You gotta walk before you can run.”

Since 1986’s Roughhousi­n’ on Alligator, the band has released eight more albums, including the latest, 2008’s Full Tilt.

Williams will be inducted Saturday at 8:15 p.m. at the Canada South Blues Museum, Place Concorde’s Oasis Lounge, 7515 Forest Glade Dr. Doors open at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets $25 non-members, $15 members.

Canada South Blues Society recently received a $62,000 grant over 30 months from the Trillium Foundation to make improvemen­ts to the museum, develop a youth program, and hire an executive director.

And there was more good news for the organizati­on. The Blues Foundation of Memphis, Tenn., named CSBS the winner of its Historical Preservati­on Award.

The award will be presented along with other recipients of Keeping the Blues Alive Awards at the 27th annual Internatio­nal Blues Challenge next February.

CSBS is in some elite company. Other winners of the Historical Preservati­on Award include Library of Congress archivist Alan Lomax, Columbia Records, and the Delta Blues Museum in Mississipp­i.

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