Big Joe Shelton | Black Prairie Blues

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Black Prairie Blues

by Big Joe Shelton

Blues Review ~ Dance if you want to.
Genre: Blues: Juke Joint Blues
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Ribs And Cat Whisky
2:16 $0.99
2. In Mississippi
5:28 $0.99
3. Chitlin' Lovin' Man
2:53 $0.99
4. Mississippi Night
4:58 $0.99
5. Hope We Live To See The Day
5:01 $0.99
6. One's Too Many
3:37 $0.99
7. Devil Lives In Memphis
3:42 $0.99
8. Black Prairie Blues
5:25 $0.99
9. Nothin' Can Save It
3:00 $0.99
10. Scratchin' Yo Itch
4:04 $0.99
11. Best I Can Tell
6:47 $0.99
12. Cat Fish Alley
3:04 $0.99
13. Ears Like A Mule
2:28 $0.99
14. Can't Come Back
2:50 $0.99
15. Be A Woman
3:33 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Big Joe Shelton was born in the Black Prairie region of northeast Mississippi. Growing up in a small Mississippi town he was exposed to an African-American culture which still strongly reflected that of the early part of the twentieth century. He attended tent minstrel shows, bar-b-que picnics and heard street musicians performing authentic traditional blues. The Black Belt region is also the birthplace of blues legends Howlin’ Wolf, Bukka White and Big Joe Williams. As a young man he was fortunate in befriending Williams and this association greatly influenced his musical sensibilities.

As a child Big Joe sang in church and grammar school choirs. In his teens he began playing the harmonica and guitar. Songwriting soon followed and he found he had a wealth of experiences from which to draw. In the mid seventies he moved to Chicago and experienced the urban blues scene first hand. From Maxwell Street to the south side he sopped up the blues gravy served by the likes of Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Buddy Guy and many others.

He is a member of the Mississippi Arts Commission “Artist Roster” ( and “Folk Arts / Folk Life Directory” ( and was honored by being included on the “Columbus / Catfish Alley” Mississippi Blues Trail Marker (

Big Joe has performed at numerous festivals and clubs throughout the southeastern United States including: King Biscuit Blues Festival, Howlin’ Wolf Memorial Blues Festival, Freedom Creek Blues Festival, Ground Zero Blues Club, and the Beal Street Mess Around. He has also toured England, France, Belgium, Bulgaria and the Netherlands.

He has played with blues legends Big Joe Williams, Furry Lewis, Son Thomas, Junior Kimbrough, Fenton Robinson, Living Blues 2003 “Artist Of The Year” Willie King, BMA Award nominees Blind Mississippi Morris, R. L. Burnside and Johnny Rawls as well as Daniel “Slick” Ballinger, the 2007 BMA” Best New Artist” honoree.

Among his many contributions toward perpetuation of the blues is his involvement with the Jazz Foundation of America and the Howlin’ Wolf Blues Societies “blues in the school” educational programs as well as performing in area personal care homes for the elderly.



to write a review

Donna Handley

I would give this CD more than 5 stars if I could. It's currently in our top five rotation. Please....Please, Joe, make more CDs!

Joe Phillips

Big Joe'S A Must Have.
If your diggin' the blues, you'll get buried in this. Everything just sems to work on this set 'o' tunes, right from the "Ribs" to the "Woman" and will "Scratch Yo Itch" and make ya want some "Chitlin' in Catfish Alley".
"Best I Can Tell" is " I Hope We Live To See Somr More".

Juke Blues Magazine

Review in U.K. publication "Juke Blues
Issue # 66 Winter 2008

Now wait a minute, this is raw…Big Joe Shelton, straight from the Black Prairie region of Mississippi, home of Willie King, who makes a guest appearance on the title track. Energetic and exciting, there’s even some of King’s political edge creeping in too. “Black Prairie Blues” comes highly recommended, and guaranteed to get your toes tapping.

Norman Darwen

Black Prairie Blues
This review is appearing in the current issue of the British publication “Blues In Britain”.

Big Joe Shelton was born in north-east Mississippi and encountered the blues as a youngster, befriending no less a personage than Big Joe Williams, and he began playing guitar and harmonica in his teens. He later moved to Chicago, before returning back down south. There is little doubt then that he knows his stuff, but just in case ‘Black Prairie Blues’ (Alt 45 Records, no issue number)) should dispel any lingering thoughts. Joe has a big voice, a wonderful non-flashy harmonica style, and at his best sometimes recalls Howling Wolf. Many of his tracks are good old-fashioned house-rocking juke-joint blues, but as the opener shows, even without a band he can whip up a storm (shades of Rice Miller). Down-home Alabama bluesman Willie King is a friend of Joe’s and turns in a brief guest appearance on what is a very fine set indeed.
Rating: 8 - Norman Darwen

Greg "Doc" Lefebre

Black Prairie Blues
Doc’s Juke Joint
Thu 17 Jul 2008
Move On Down South
Posted by Doc under Reviews
No Comments
If Mojo Nixon had a brother and he had a new blues release, it might be Big Joe Shelton. The similarities to Mojo stop at the singing voice. Big Joe is no novelty act, he is a straight forward southern juke joint rocker. Vocalist/Harp player Big Joe Shelton’s new release “Black Prairie Blues” (Alt 45 Records) is a journey down to the northeast part of Mississippi known by the same name. Big Joe was raised surrounded by the blues. Early influences include a fortunate relationship with blues legend Big Joe Williams. In the mid seventies Shelton moved to Chicago and experienced the electric blues scene first hand. While in Chicago Big Joe was able to see the likes of Muddy Water, Howlin’ Wolf and Buddy Guy.
Big Joe really rocks the harp or as he likes to call it - his “Mississippi Saxophone.” Guitarist Willie King makes a guest appearance on the title track (”Black Prairie Blues”) which is a great tribute to Bukka White and the many other blues musicians of this region. Other favorites include “Ribs and Cat Whisky,” “Chitlin’ Lovin’ Man,” “One’s Too Many” and “Cat Fish Alley.” If you like your blues to rock-a-little or just have fun, take a trip down to Mississippi with Big Joe Shelton. Greg “Doc” Lefebre

Bill Porter

Black Prairie Blues
This review was posted on 'BLUES BLAST" the ILLINOIS BLUES web site
Hey blues lovers; have I got a CD for you! Want to go to an authentic Mississippi juke joint with ribs, cat whiskey and blues? Pick up Big Joe Shelton’s latest CD: Black Prairie Blues. You’ll be transported to the northeast, “Black Prairie Region” of the Mississippi blues trail in a heartbeat. Every song has a killer feel, powered by a solid rhythm section featuring bassist Ean Evans (Lynyrd Skynyrd, Outlaws) and drummer Bryan Owings (Delbert McClinton, Amazing Rhythm Aces). This CD is electric, driving blues with a Southern barrel house feel. You’ll get your hard earned dollars worth on this 15 song CD. Joe wrote or co-wrote every cut, which makes him a triple threat: singer, song writer and Mississippi saxophonist. Being from Chicago, I didn’t know what a Mississippi Saxophone was. It’s a blues harp and oh boy, can Big Joe work those reeds! Joe’s sound favors the big, fat harp sounds of Little Walter and James Cotton. And why shouldn’t it? After all, he moved from the deep South to Chicago in the 70’s, where he honed his blues licks listening to Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy and the flourishing Old Town Chicago blues scene from Maxwell Street to the South Side.Joe’s vocals remind me of the growling sound of Howlin’ Wolf’s six-foot-four delivery. No Bee Gee’s falsetto on this album! You’ll hear plenty of honest, dig down and bare-your-soul BLUES. The listener will surely find lyrics they can relate to on this real life tapestry of life. Haven’t we all been at a relationship “crossroads” and anguished over track 15’s simple question: “If you don’t want me, be a woman and tell me so. I’ll just pack my things and go.” This track is punctuated by Edwin Daniel’s, six string pentatonic perfection. Instrumental performances are strong on every cut. Other cuts feature Drew Dieckmann’s tasteful blend of Clapton-meets-Cropper guitar riffs and Uncle Wayne’s, ”no-doubt-about-it” approach to the blues . Big Joe immerses himself with top notch musicians like 2003 Living Blues Artist of the Year, Willie King. Keyboards are perfectly blended by the talents of Bobby Shannon and John Simpson. The songs are strong and the production is good. The liner notes and lyrical content reveal Big Joe’s positive message, as illustrated in “Hope we Live to See the Day (… where we love one another like the Good Book says…). Give this “new” artist (with over 30 years’ experience) a chance.If you like the electric Delta Blues flavor of R. L. Burnside, Mark Hummel, Slick Ballinger and Jr. Kimbrough, you’ll like Big Joe SheltonTo purchase this CD, CLICK HERE.Reviewer Bill Porter is the front man for the Bill Porter Project an Illinois based Blues band.To submit a review or interview please contact:

Roger Gatchet

Living Blues Magazine's review of Black Prairie Blues!
Living Blues Magazine review of
Black Prairie Blues
December 2008
Issue # 198

Mississippi native Big Joe Shelton is one of the blues’ many unsung local heroes—while he may not be a well known name on the national scene, he has played the King Biscuit Blues Festival (now the Arkansas Blues and Heritage Festival) toured Europe, and jammed with legends like Junior Kimbrough, R. L. Burnside, Big Joe Williams, and Alabama bluesman Willie King, who make a guest appearance on Black Prairie Blues.
Shelton’s vocals and harmonica get the job done, but his real strength lies in his songwriting. All 15 tunes on the set list are original numbers, and even in the album’s weaker moments, Shelton performs with an unrelenting passion. He covers all the blues canon with a pen guided by years of experience playing in the deep south: promiscuity on Scratchin’ Yo Itch; booze on One’s Too Many; a relationship on the rocks on Nothin’ Can Save It; wild Saturday nights down in Cat Fish alley; and the ubiquitous disrespectful female on Be A Woman; a high energized rocker that closes the album. The timely Elmore James-style slide blues Hope We Live To See The Day delivers both a poignant critique of the war in Iraq and a call for peace, with Shelton reminding us that “Jesus don’t like killin’, no matter what for,” and the title track finds guest Willie King taking a break from the Liberators to contribute tasty lead guitar to the mix.
No doubt Shelton’s got the goods and Black Prairie Blues is a solid, enjoyable record that should broaden his fan base. The CD is available at

Roger Gatchet

Tom Hyslop

Blues review Magazine
OCT / NOV 2008

Tom Hyslop

Harp player Big Joe Shelton should be named an auxiliary member of the Mississippi Chamber of Commerce for advancing his home state’s interest with Black Prairie Blues (Alt 45 records). The title cut, featuring Willie King on guitar, presents a hard-hitting roster of blues titans from the Mississippi-Alabama border; the hard-shuffling “In Mississippi” touts the local character. “Best I Can Tell” is a solid slow blues: “Devil Lives in Memphis” borrows from “Roll and Tumble”; and an Elmore James feel informs “Hope We Live to See the Day.” “One’s Too Many” and “Can’t Come Back” effectively blend humor with plainspoken truth. Shelton’s vocals are sometimes overly mannered, but he’s a strong songwriter.