Unlike many of his swamp blues brethren, the evocatively monikered Lonesome Sundown (the name was an inspired gift from producer J.D. Miller) wasn't a Jimmy Reed disciple. Sundown's somber brand of blues was more in keeping with the gruff sound of Muddy Waters. The guitarist was one of the most powerful members of Miller's south Louisiana stable, responsible for several seminal swamp standards on Excello Records. The former Cornelius Green first seriously placed his hands on a guitar in 1950, Waters and Hooker providing early inspiration. Zydeco pioneer Clifton Chenier hired the guitarist as one of his two axemen (Phillip Walker being the other) in 1955. A demo tape was enough proof for Miller -- he began producing him in 1956, leasing the freshly renamed Sundown's "Leave My Money Alone" to Excello.
There were plenty more where that one came from. Over the next eight years, Sundown's lowdown Excello output included "My Home Is a Prison," "I'm a Mojo Man," "I Stood By," "I'm a Samplin' Man," and a host of memorable swamp classics, all of which preceded his 1965 retirement from the blues business to devote his life to the church. It was 1977 before Sundown could be coaxed back into a studio to cut a blues LP; Been Gone Too Long, co-produced by Bruce Bromberg and Dennis Walker for the Joliet imprint, was an excellent comeback entry but sales were disappointing (even after being reissued on Alligator). Scattered live performances were about all that was heard of the swamp blues master after that. ~ Bill Dahl
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