Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS
the River of Song project and more...

List Artists by Genre
List Artists Alphabetically
Previous Artist
Next Artist
Discography
Video Clips

Smithsonian Institution
Southern FusionAmericans Old and NewMidwestern CrossroadsSouthern FusionLouisiana, Where Music is King
Little Milton

 
In the 1950s, blues evolved into a new, gospel-tinged style that would ease seamlessly into the southern soul sound of the next decade. The reigning kings were based at first in Memphis: artists like B.B. King, Bobby Blue Bland, and Little Milton. Milton started out as a teenage guitar player in Greenville, Mississippi, recorded for Sun Records, then headed up to St. Louis and spent years there, filling the clubs in a friendly rivalry with his fellow Mississippian Ike Turner.
       Signed to Chess Records, the Chicago label that defined down-home blues, Milton had a respectable string of blues hits, then came into his own in the 1960s as a soul-blues singer and balladeer. His uptown sound, full of rich horn lines and singing guitar solos, is the antithesis of the Jelly Roll Kings' rough-hewn approach, but there is no questioning his depth of soul and emotion. While white blues fans have dug for an ever-rootsier sound, it is Milton's uptown sound that brings African-American audiences into the string of southern clubs known affectionately as the "chitlin' circuit."
       Today, Milton records for the Jackson-based Malaco label, and is one of the most consistent sellers in the southern blues market. His eyes glint as he works his audience, joking with the men and seducing the women. His songs are still filled with cheating women and no-good men, but they are wearing fancy gowns and cologne, not overalls and brogans. His show at the Flowin' Fountain, on Greenville's fabled Nelson Street, is a sort of homecoming, and he is joined by his mentor, Little Bill Wallace, and the raunchy Arkansas blues star Bobby Rush for an evening that brings together the roots and the branches of the Delta tradition.

Related Links

        Bio from Little Milton's record label Malaco Records
 
 

Home | The River of Song Project | The Artists | Music Along the River | Calendar | Teacher's Guide | Press Room | The Store
© 1998 The Filmmakers Collaborative and The Smithsonian Institution, all right reserved
River of Song HOME the River of Song project the artists music along the river calendar teacher's guide pressroom store