Last Sunday (2/7/16), while trollin’ through my on-line free music catalog for blues tracks, I ran across a piece called “Downsville Blues” and I’m thinkin’ “Naaaah. No way! It can’t be.”
Then again, how can it not? I mean, we got Chicago Blues, Delta Blues, Piedmont Blues, and Detroit Blues and there’s no path to a place called Downsville anywhere in there. But, we also have Texas Blues – The domain of Gatemouth Brown, Lonnie Mack, Mance Lipscomb, Hudie Ledbetter, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Big Mama Thornton, Victoria Spivey, and many more where Downsvile does fit in.
It’s the Downsville of my ancestors. Specifically, it’s the Downsville of my 3rd Great Grand Uncle William Woods Downs just outside of Waco.
And, Lo and Behold, “Downsville Blues” was penned by guitarist/singer Tomcat Courtney who was born in Marlin, TX, on January 22, 1929, and raised in Downsville, where his father, a ragtime piano player, had a juke joint. He (Tomcat) became a dancer and joined a circus show as a teenager, beginning to sing in the show.
After World War II, Tomcat moved to Lubbock and became a cook, meanwhile learning to play guitar. He played roadhouses throughout the Southwest and settled in San Diego, CA, in 1971, where he began playing clubs several nights a week, also appearing regularly in Phoenix, AZ.
His first recording came on the album San Diego Blues Jam released by Advent Records in 1974, and over the years he pressed up his own CDs to sell at his gigs. In 2000, his song “Shake It Up Baby” appeared on the album I Better Move On… by Len Rainey & the Midnight Players.
Signed to Blue Witch Records, he made his national recording debut with the album “Downsville Blues”, released on May 20, 2008, when he was 79 years old.
And hear it is The Downsville Blues