Rev. Leon Pinson

Rev. Leon Pinson
The George Mitchell Collection
Fat Possum / Big Legal Mess

“Rev. Leon Pinson grew up in north Mississippi, then lived in the Delta for over three decades, steadily playing his brand of blues-inflected gospel. Beginning in 1929, Rev. Pinson traveled the northern Mississippi region alongside his musical partner, the harmonica player Elder Roma Wilson. The pair built a strong following on the church circuit, earning renown for their renditions of 'This Train,' 'Lily of the Valley,' and 'Better Get Ready.' In the 1940s, Elder Wilson left Mississippi for Detroit, where he would make his first recordings. Meanwhile, Rev. Pinson settled in Cleveland, MS, where he’d play outside of Charlie White’s barber shop. Later he opened his own shoe shine stand, picking up the guitar when business was slow. Rev. Pinson and Elder Wilson were reunited in the 1970s, when Wilson returned to Mississippi. The pair gained widespread acclaim from appearing at several prominent festivals.” - Sam Sweet

George Mitchell: “We found him playing outside this little store. We recorded him a lot on acoustic, but when he was in public, he had a little loudspeaker and an electric guitar, and he made some noise. His gospel felt like blues. He had a really beautiful sound.” These lovely recordings were made in Cleveland, MS, in 1967. Hear Hush, Somebody is Calling My Name. LP includes download card.

Alan Young’s Woke Me Up this Morning book includes this tantalizing bit of info: “These days, he carries cassette tapes for sale at concerts and other performances. But he has eliminated the recording studio and the need for professional duplication. When he decides to make some tapes, he sets up his portable recorder and sings and plays into it. When he has filled up a 60 minute cassette tape, he uses another twin-deck recorder to run off a dozen or so copies. He sells them at $11 each; when they’re all gone, he loads his little red portable recorder, sets up his instruments, and makes another tape. He keeps no store of ‘master tapes’; each batch of tapes he makes contains new recordings.” (!)