Sleepy John Estes
Years leading a work gang left their mark on Sleepy John Estes' vocal style. As a result, he will always be remembered for his keening wail, often referred to as "crying the blues." A Country Blues master who recorded incessantly over the course of a sixty-year career (on almost as many labels), he performed some of the most broken-down, lamenting blues ever heard. Running up and down the neck in semi-folk, acoustic patterns, his guitar style is similar to that of Leadbelly, but his biggest strength has always been his singular voice. With his high-pitched vocals that recall Robert Johnson and his material that harks back to less psychically intense artists such as Sonny Boy Williamson, Sleepy John Estes is a good introduction to the sounds and imagery of early blues. For the seasoned blues enthusiast, however, Sleepy John is nothing less than an essential figure in the blues pantheon.