Born and raised in the hill country of Mississippi, gospel blues guitarist and singer Leo Welch didn't make his professional recording debut until he was 82 years old, by which time he was pretty much the last in a line of vernacular Mississippi guitarists who included R.L. Burnside, Junior Kimbrough, and Mississippi Fred McDowell. Born in Sabougla, Mississippi in 1932, Welch showed an affinity for music early, learning to play guitar, harmonica, and fiddle, and he was soon playing at picnics and parties, working his way up to juke joints and clubs, playing mostly blues standards with a gospel edge, raw and urgent. Otherwise, he kept his day job, working over 30 years on a logging crew in the hill country. Around 1975, when the blues began to wane as a popular music and the gigs began to dry up, Welch switched his sound to gospel, and took his blues riffs and Chuck Berry energy into the churches, developing a raw hybrid style that had the grit and moan of the blues laid under the urgent, passionate energy of call-and-response gospel. An offhand phone call to the Big Legal Mess record label brought him an audition and then a recording contract. Welch took his striking gospel blues into the studio, putting it down straight and with no frills, emerging with a debut album, Sabougla Voices, early in 2014. As part of his deal with Big Legal Mess, Welch promised the label that if they issued his gospel record, he would cut a blues album. He delivered on it with I Don't Prefer No Blues. The set was produced by Bruce Watson, featured guitar work from Jimbo Mathus, and was issued in early 2015.
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