Little Joe McLerran has packed a lifetime of musical experience into just 25 short years, culminating in achieving a dream of his: winning the 25th Annual Blues Foundation’s International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tennessee. It took four consecutive trips to the event and three stellar sets to earn the crown.

Little Joe McLerran, “Perhaps the finest Piedmont Blues player on the face of God’s green earth”, writes Billy Austin, editor of Blues News. No small wonder. Little Joe has spent 16 of his 24 years on God’s green earth working on his Piedmont chops. For his first public performance Joe sang a Leadbelly song and played another by Rev. Gary Davis as his 4th grade classmates provided theatrical support.

Little Joe McLerran came to the blues early on, discovering the music as a kid through friends of his dad, longtime local bass player Rob McLerran. When he was a teenager, Joe and his brother, Jesse, played on the Pearl Street Mall as “Buddy Hollywood,” a duo specializing in the Beatles, Bob Marley and the blues. Joe played guitar and Jesse — who died in an accident a few years ago — played drums.

Nine years ago the family moved to Tulsa, Okla., where Joe adopted the name “Son Piedmont” and immersed himself in the acoustic Piedmont blues style of the ’20s and ’30s. The 25-year-old blues musician has a penchant for the classics, but he has created a sound that is current — and all his own.

He’ll hit the Rivoli stage as a trio, with father Robbie Mack on bass and his long-time reed man Dexter Payne. Little Joe will be working hard on the weekend, also performing in a pre-fest event at the Fat Fish Pub on Friday, October 23rd (be sure to come by to score some free tickets or a free t-shirt!). He’ll also be presenting the first of two blues guitar workshops at the Buchanan Center for the Arts at 10am on Saturday, October 23rd (Little Joe has given Piedmont Blues workshops all across the US and also in the Middle East).

Many thanks to IllinoisBlues.com for the great picture of Little Joe!

Learn more about Little Joe at his website.

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