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The Butler Twins

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Artist Biography by Richard Skelly

Clarence and Curtis Butler are two longtime beacons on the Detroit-area blues scene, and with two recently recorded albums for the London-based JSP Records, they may finally begin to garner a wider following outside of Detroit. The brothers’ albums for JSP include Pursue Your Dreams (1996) and Not Gonna Worry About Tomorrow (1995).

Guitarist Clarence and harmonica player Curtis Butler grew up near W.C. Handy’s birthplace of Florence, Alabama, about 30 miles from the Mississippi Delta. They took their earliest musical cues from their father, guitarist Willie “Butch” Butler, who was famous in the region but never recorded.

The twins moved to Detroit in the 1960 and quickly found work in Motor City auto plants. The club scene at the time was booming, with the music of John Lee Hooker, Little Sonny, Bo Collins, Bobo Jenkins and dozens of others spilling out of the city’s juke joints. The twins continued working and sitting in as much as they could, but by the late 1960s, the blues scene in Detroit had dried up. Civil unrest and the rise of the Motown sound didn’t leave much room for a flourishing blues scene, but by the early 1980s, when the blues began a resurgence again nationally, the Butler Twins were still on the scene. More importantly, they were celebrated as survivors and veterans.

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