Butler "String Beans" May

Born: Aug. 18, 1894, Montgomery, AL

Died: Nov. 17, 1917

May was only fourteen years old when he set out from Montgomery with Will Benbow's Chocolate Drops Company, to perform at the Belmont Street Theater in Pensacola, FL. By age sixteen he was the brightest shooting star in the Southern vaudeville circuit. In theaters around the country he played to sell out crowds. He was a primary influence on the development of the blues. In his heavy Southern vernacular style, his pianologue and piano dance, his repertoire of original songs and parodic inventions; in his license and abandon, both on and off the stage, String Beans personified the unadulterated instincts of the blues.

Source: Alabama Music Hall of Fame

 

This special thematic issue focuses on Alabama’s contribution to the blues genre:

"The Life and Death of Pioneer Bluesman Butler ‘String Beans’ May by Doug Seroff and Lynn Abbott; "Butler County Blues," by Kevin Nutt; "Tracking Down a Legend: The ‘Jaybird’ Coleman Story" by James Patrick Cather; "A Life of the Blues" by Willie King, with photo essay by Axel Kustner; "Livingston, Alabama, Blues: The significance of Vera Ward Hall" by Jerrilyn McGregory;" and "Chasing John Henry in Alabama and Mississippi" by John Garst plus reviews of two CDs, The Traditional Musics of Alabama, Vol. I and Alabama: From Lullabies to Blues.

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