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Bluesman Leo "Bud" Welch, 81, making up for lost time in MN this week

Posted by: Chris Riemenschneider under Music, Concert news Updated: January 14, 2014 - 10:06 AM
Leo "Bud" Welch was working as a lumberman and singing in the church up until this past year. / Photo by Steven W. Likens

Leo "Bud" Welch was working as a lumberman and singing in the church up until this past year. / Photo by Steven W. Likens

Not the kind of newly discovered buzz act who is going to get in a tour van for months on end, Leo “Bud” Welch is making the most of a trip to Minnesota this week in order to make it worth his while. The 81-year-old Mississippi bluesman -- whose debut record came out last week on Fat Possum Records subsidiary Big Legal Mess -- has nine different gigs booked while he’s in town, starting Wednesday night at Deep Blues Fest founder Chris Johnson’s great meat joint Bayport BBQ in Bayport and culminating Sunday afternoon at the 331 Club in Minneapolis.

As was recounted in an NPR profile earlier this month, Welch was whiling away his days playing his gospel-spiked brand of rural acoustic blues around Bruce, Miss., where he worked on a logging crew. Only the locals knew of his talent, in part because he did most of his singing in churches. Welch heard about Oxford-based Fat Possum turning Junior Kimbrough into a star late in his life, and so he called up label co-founder Bruce Watson to see if he wanted to make a record with him. He most certainly did.

Welch’s entire album, “Sabougla Voices,” is streaming online here. It’s quite a joyous kick, with the raw boogie of Kimbrough and other Mississippi Hill Country blues greats but also a fiery religious undercurrent that’s about as far from grace as you can get while still under the church tent.

Here are all the shows Welch has booked this week:

Wednesday: 8 p.m., Bayport BBQ, 328 5th Av. N., Bayport (just south of Stillwater), $10.

Thursday: 5 p.m., Dubliner Pub, 2162 University Av. W., St. Paul, free.

Thursday: 8 p.m., Real-Phonic Radio Hour, James J. Hill Reference Library, 80 4th St. W., St. Paul, with Semi-Twang, BB Gun and the Real-Phonic crew, $20.

Friday: 6 p.m. in-store set at Treehouse Records, 2557 Lyndale Av. S., Mpls., free.

Friday: 8 p.m., Palmer’s Bar, 500 Cedar Av. S., Mpls., with Javier & the Innocent Sons (no ticket info available).

Saturday and Sunday: 10 a.m.-1 p.m. brunch, Hell’s Kitchen, Minneapolis, with Charlie Parr and Mikkel Beckmen, free.

Saturday: 7 p.m., Deep Winter Blues Fest, Harriet Brewing, 3036 Minnehaha Av. S., Mpls., with Terry and Mark of the Big Wu and Nathan Miller, $5.

Sunday: 3 p.m., 331 Club, 331 13th Av. NE, Mpls., with Charlie Parr again, free.

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