BIG JOE SHELTON AND THE BLACK PRAIRIE BLUES AMBASSADORS Blues Columbus, Mississippi Big Joe Shelton was born in the Black Prairie region of Northeast Mississippi. As a child growing up in a small Mississippi town he was exposed to an African-American culture, which still strongly reflected that of the early part of the twentieth century. He attended barbecue picnics and heard street musicians performing authentic traditional blues. The Black Belt region is also the birthplace of blues legends Howlin’ Wolf, Bukka White and Big Joe Williams. As a young man he was fortunate in befriending Williams and this association greatly influenced his musical sensibilities. I’d Never Let Her Down is his third release on the independent ALT 45 RECORDS label. It was recorded in Starkville Mississippi in January of 2013 and features eleven original songs all penned by Shelton. He is backed by his touring band, The Black Prairie Blues Ambassadors: Ben Ferrell, guitar; Ed Swan, bass; and Bob Damm, percussion. They are joined by Bobby Shannon and David Reese on keys, Doug Thomas on Saxophone and Susan Alcorn Lobato on pedal steel guitar. The Older I Get the Better I Was was released on ALT 45 RECORDS in 2011. The title track of the cd was nominated for “Song of The Year” in the 2012 Blues Music Awards. The album was listed in the top ten on numerous national and international blues radio charts including: Australia, the Netherlands, Spain, United Kingdom, France, Canada, Germany, and the United States. It also received extensive play on Sirius XM satellite radio’s B.B. King’s Bluesville program. The CD garnered stellar reviews from national and international blues music magazines including: Living Blues (US), Elmore Magazine (US), Blues Matters (UK), Juke Blues (UK), and Blues Review (US).
Big Joe has performed at numerous festivals and clubs throughout the southeastern United States including: 2012 Blues Music Awards, King Biscuit Blues Festival, Mississippi Delta Blues and Heritage Festival, Bukka White Blues Festival, Howlin’ Wolf Memorial Blues Festival, Freedom Creek Blues Festival, Beal Street Mess Around, Bentonia (MS) Blues Festival, Rolling Fork (MS) Blues Festival, Rosedale (MS) Crossroads Festival. He has also toured England, France, Belgium, Bulgaria and the Netherlands.
He has played with blues legends Big Joe Williams, Furry Lewis, Son Thomas, Junior Kimbrough, Fenton Robinson, Willie King, Blind Mississippi Morris, R. L. Burnside, Johnny Rawls and Daniel “Slick ”Ballinger, the 2007 BMA Best New Artist. Shelton was awarded a grant to promote the new record by the Mississippi Arts Commission and he is a 2010 / 2011 Artist Fellowship recipient as well as a member of the Arts Commission’s Artist Roster and is also included in the Mississippi Folk Arts / Folk life Directory. He was honored in 2007 by being included on the “Columbus / Cat Fish Alley” Mississippi Blues Trail Marker.
Among his contributions toward perpetuation of the blues is his involvement with the Jazz Foundation of America and the Mississippi Arts Commission sponsored educational programs.