by Dave Leucinger
“I’ve got a good mind; I don’t forget nothing, you know?” That understated self-assessment by David “Honeyboy” Edwards is characteristic of the 88-year-old blues guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter. A native of Shaw, Mississippi, Edwards retains the purist links to seminal acoustic country blues. He’s witnessed or worked with virtually every blues musician of note since the late 1920s, from Delta legends Charley Patton, Tommy Johnson, and Robert Johnson to Chicago blues icons Little Walter, Sonny Boy Williamson #2 (Aleck “Rice” Miller), and the Myers Brothers (Louis and Dave). Beyond his eyewitness accounts, however, is the Edwards’ musical retention: subtle yet captivating in a manner that appears simple, but in reality belies awareness of musical intonation and interplay.
Music was a fundamental part of the rural southern culture in the early 20th century. “We had guitars, pianos, violins, mandolins; most of the string music,” he recalled. People used to give country dances on Saturday night, and the musicians would come out and play. Through the week they would sit around the house and learn how to play guitar, and what they could do with it.”