Farmer leads list at Blues

Willie Cris “Little Willie” Farmer picks guitar in his studio, which is part of his auto shop, in Duck Hill. Farmer will be among the featured performers at the 12th Annual Grassroots Blues Festival July 11-12 in Duck Hill.

Staff Photo/Galen Holley

Staff Writer

   The same fingers that carefully grind valves and set engine timing flutter over the guitar’s fret board like hummingbirds darting from blossom to blossom.
   Willie Cris Farmer, better known as Little Willie Farmer, is a jack of all trades.  
   Blues fans come from all over the world to hear Farmer, 58, play guitar, yet he built the house in which he lives with his own two hands.
   Farmer’s name is known to Blues enthusiasts from Seattle to Singapore, yet he makes his living working on cars.
   Farmer will be among the featured performers at the 12th Annual Grassroots Blues Festival, “Blues in the Hills,” in Duck Hill, July 11-12.
   Farmer isn’t just a Blues legend He’s also an accomplished outdoorsman – more by necessity than luxury. He  had to hunt game to help feed his family when he was a boy, growing up in Sweatman.
   In his auto shop, which doubles as a recording studio, the walls are hung with engine belts and guitars. Amid it all, Farmer has a freezer full of his favorite fish, bream,  as well as venison, rabbit, squirrel and even raccoon.
   “You boil that coon till he’s almost done, then you put him in the oven with bell peppers, carrots, spices and a sweet potato on top,” Farmer says.
   Farmer’s garden looks like Eden, green with the leaves of butter beans, snap beans,  mustard greens, turnip greens, squash, cucumbers and watermelons, all blossoming up from the fecund, red soil.
   To those who understand the history and importance of Blues in Mississippi, Farmer is a legend, but to his grandsons, he’s just Paw-Paw.

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