Bastrop County Blues & Jazz


The juke joints, house parties and cotton fields of Bastrop County are a wellspring of blues and jazz. From Live at Lost Pines to the Kerr Community Center, you can soak up a wealth of music history. Brush up on your Bastrop musical history here, and then listen to our local pickers and wailers through the links below or at our many live music venues.

 

THE GREY GHOST

Barrelhouse piano player Roosevelt T. Williams was born in Bastrop in 1903 and became known as “The Grey Ghost” because of the way he’d slip in and out of town, riding on boxcars from gig to gig. It’s also a poignant reminder of how he slipped in and out of the spotlight before a triumphant return to music in the late 1980s. In 1996, The Grey Ghost passed into legend at the age of 92.

To hear one of The Grey Ghost’s only recordings, click here.

 

SNUFF JOHNSON

The son of Bastrop County sharecroppers, country bluesman Alfred “Snuff” Johnson was born in nearby Cedar Creek in 1919. After picking up his uncle’s guitar, Snuff began playing his “black cowboy blues” at parties and balls. After serving in WWII, however, Snuff settled in Austin, and the paying gigs ceased until his rediscovery in the early 1980s. Snuff Johnson died in Austin in 2000.

To listen to Snuff Johnson’s music, click here.

 

SONNY RHODES

Born Clarence Smith in Smithville in 1940, Sonny Rhodes has brought joy to pure blues fans the world over. He began singing and playing around Bastrop County while still in his teens, developing a trademark lap-steel guitar style that melded classic blues and Western swing.

To learn more about Sonny Rhodes, click here.

To listen to Sonny Rhodes’ music, click here.

 

HANNIBAL LOKUMBE

Born Hannibal Marvin Peterson in Smithville in 1948, Hannibal Lokumbe is an award-winning trumpet player and composer. After living and performing in New York for 25 years and touring the world multiple times with groundbreaking masters such as Roland Kirk, McCoy Tyner and Gil Evans, Hannibal came home to Bastrop. Here in his home county, he composes large-scale symphonic pieces and commissioned works for the Kronos Quartet and many others. Hannibal is also deeply devoted to sharing culture and music with the people of his community, particularly children.

To learn more about Hannibal Lokumbe, click here.

To hear a sample of his music, click here.

 

HOSEA HARGROVE

A subtle, refined blues guitarist and vocalist, Hosea Hargrove grew up in Crafts Prairie, a hotbed of blues players in the ‘30s and ‘40s. His style, rooted in acoustic country blues but electrified through the influence of Willie Thornton, has permeated Austin’s Eastside blues scene since the ’50s. Hosea’s playing is deceptively simple — there’s never a wasted note, never a showy phrase when an elegant silence will do. He played with and was a big influence on both Jimmie and Stevie Ray Vaughan’s style. Now in his 80s and a recent inductee into the Texas Music Hall of Fame, Hosea still performs in Austin and regularly at Shellers Barrelhouse Bar at Hyatt Regency Lost Pines.

To hear Hosea Hargrove’s music, click here.