watermelon slim

“Does anyone in modern pop music have a more intriguing biography than Bill “Watermelon Slim” Homans?” asked the Memphis Flyer.

Slim was born in Boston and raised in North Carolina listening to his maid sing John Lee Hooker and other blues songs around the house. His father was a progressive attorney and ex-freedom rider and his brother is now a classical musician. Slim dropped out of Middlebury College to enlist for Vietnam. While laid up in a Vietnam hospital bed he taught himself upside-down left-handed slide guitar on a $5 balsawood model using a triangle pick cut from a rusty coffee can top and his Army issued Zippo lighter as the slide.

Returning home an fervent anti-war activist, Slim first appeared on the music scene with the release of the only known record by a veteran during the Vietnam War. The project was Merry Airbrakes, a 1973 protest tinged LP with tracks Country Joe McDonald later covered.

In the following 30 plus years Slim has been a truck driver, forklift operator, sawmiller (where he lost part of his finger), firewood salesman, collection agent, and even officiated funerals. At times he got by as a small time criminal. At one point he was forced to flee Boston where he played peace rallies, sit-ins and rabbleroused musically with the likes of Bonnie Raitt.

He ended up farming watermelons in Oklahoma – hence his stage name and current home base. Somewhere in those decades Slim completed two undergrad degrees in history and journalism.

Watermelon Slim’s accolades are legion, including being only one of four musicians ever nominated for a record tying six blues music awards in 2007 (the only others to accomplish this feat were B.B. King, Buddy Guy and Robert Cray). To see all of Slim’s nominations and awards, click here.

Now, this award winning bluesman and storyteller will descend on the Rivoli stage to give the Deep Blue Innovators Blues Festival a set like no other – innovative, exciting and deeply rooted in the blues.

“Now I’m pumped,” says Slim. ” First of all, I’m going to get to see my old friend Joe Price. I have watched Joe’s magic down here in Oklahoma City, at the Blue Door. I am honored to be on a bill with him!”

“Then besides that, I get to meet up with another buddy, Shawn Kellerman. What a freakin MENSCH! One hard-working all-around showman. We got to jam a little bit up in Mont Tremblant back in early August. I play Canada quite a bit, so we run into each other a few times a year at least.”

“And your theme–Innovators– is spot on, least as far as I’m concerned. I try to keep the music new, keep it my own. The blues will never be a museum exhibit in my hands, nosireebob!”


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