Eddie Kirkland

Sometimes, wildman blues can be good for what ails you. If you believe in that theory, then consider Eddie Kirkland as the blues version of a hot toddy. His eccentric brand of boogie-woogie is peppered with high-powered guitar wails and lightning-paced strumming that makes you wonder if the term electric blues was coined just for him. Born in Jamaica and raised in Alabama, Kirkland has a unique perspective on African roots music from yesteryear, and it's always been part of why his raw approach to the blues is so amazing to watch. While based in Detroit, Kirkland spent seven years recording with John Lee Hooker, eventually moving on to become lead guitarist for a handful of legends including Little Richard and Ruth Brown and serving as longtime bandleader for Otis Redding. That alone is a résumé to retire on — well, it would be if the music industry were fair and nobody ever got cheated out of royalties. Kirkland pushed on, though, and some 40-plus years into his career, the man dubbed the Gypsy of the Blues still hits the road night after night, keeping his beloved genre alive.

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Jonathan Cunningham