Big Joe Shelton
  • Columbus, MS
  • United States
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Big Joe Shelton's Page

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About Me:
Big Joe Shelton was born in the Black Prairie region of Northeast Mississippi. As a child growing up in a small Mississippi town he was exposed to an African-American culture, which still strongly reflected that of the early part of the twentith century. He attended tent minstrel shows, bar-b-que picnics and heard street musicians performing authentic traditional blues. The Black Belt region is also the birthplace of blues legends Howlin’ Wolf, Bukka White and Big Joe Williams. As a young man he was fortunate in befriending Williams and this association greatly influenced his musical sensibilities.
The title track of his latest release “The Older I Get the Better I Was”, is a 2012 Blues Music Awards "Song Of The Year" nominee and is his second release on the independent ALT 45 RECORDS label. It was recorded at the B.B. King Recording Studio on the campus of Mississippi Valley State University at Itta Bena over the Summer of 2010. It includes ten original tracks all conceived in the fertile imagination of this gifted songwriter.
The album was listed in the top ten on numerous national and international blues radio charts including: Australia, The Netherlands, Spain, United Kingdom, France, Canada, Germany, and the United States. It also received extensive play on Sirus XM satellite radio’s B.B. King’s Bluesville program. The CD garnered stellar reviews from national and international blues music magazines including: Living Blues (US), Elmore Magazine (US), Blues Matters (UK), Juke Blues (UK), and Blues Review (US).
Big Joe has performed at numerous festivals and clubs throughout the southeastern United States including: King Biscuit Blues Festival, Howlin’ Wolf Memorial Blues Festival, Freedom Creek Blues Festival and the Beal Street Mess Around. He has also toured England, France, Belgium, Bulgaria and the Netherlands.
He has played with blues legends Big Joe Williams, Furry Lewis, Son Thomas, Junior Kimbrough, Fenton Robinson and BMA / Handy Award nominees Willie King, Blind Mississippi Morris and Daniel “Slick” Ballinger, 2007 BMA "Best New Artist winner..
Shelton was awarded a 2010 Artist Fellowship from the Mississippi Arts Commission and is a member of their “Artist Roster” ( as well as their “Mississippi Folk arts / Folklife Directory” ( He was honored in 2007 by being included on the “Columbus / Cat Fish Alley” Mississippi Blues Trail Marker (
Among his contributions toward perpetuation of the blues is his involvement with the Jazz Foundation of America, The Mississippi Arts Commission, and the Howlin’ Wolf Blues Society “Blues in School” educational programs.
Favorite Blues Artists and Bands (Please list at least a few...we use this question to weed out spammers)
Howlin' Wolf, Big Joe Williams, Sonny Boy Williamson (I & ll), Peg Leg Sam, Mississippi John Hurt, Little Walter, Lightin' Hopkins
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2012 Blues Music Awards ~ Song Of The Year ~ Nominee

I hope you will take the time to listen to The Older I Get The Better I Was on my Live Blues World audio player. I would also appreciate the consideration of any voting members of the Blues Foundation...Big Joe Shelton

The Blues Foundation will present the 33rd Blues Music Awards on May 10, 2012 at the Cook Convention Center in downtown Memphis, Tennessee. Performers, industry representatives and fans from around the globe gathered to celebrate the best in Blues recording and performance from 2011.

The Blues Music Awards are universally recognized as the highest honor given to Blues artists. The presenting sponsor will once again be The Gibson Foundation. 2012 Blues Music Awards sponsors include ArtsMemphis, BMI, Blue Mountain Artists, Catfood Records, Eagle Rock Entertainment, FedEx, First Tennessee Foundation, Gibson Foundation, Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise, Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, Sony/Legacy and the Tennessee Arts Commission.


2012 Song Of The Year Nominees
Appreciate What You Got Terry Hanck (Look Out! - Terry Hanck)
The Older I Get the Better I Was Joe Shelton (The Older I Get the Better I Was - Big Joe Shelton)
Back to the Blues Hadden Sayers (Hard Dollar - Hadden Sayers)
Memphis Still Got Soul Bob Trenchard & Johnny Rawls (Memphis Still Got Soul - Johnny Rawls)
Thank You for Giving Me the Blues Grady Champion, Zac Harmon & Chris Troy (Dreamin' - Grady…

Posted on December 28, 2011 at 3:03am

Living Blues Magazine Dec. 2011

Living Blues Magazine #216

December 2011 / January 2012


Tha Older I Get The Better I Was


Mississippi native Big Joe Shelton's second release on the independent ALT 45 RECORDS label features some musical ( Psychoanalyst Voodoo Queen ) and lyrical ( They Can't Be Satisfied ) gems that reveal themselves with repeated listens. Backed by a powerful band, Shelton's witty and keen observations on relationships, politics, and the huiman condition make The Older I Get The Better I Was a worthwhile purchase.

The disc starts with Hole In Yo Soul and the title track which are standard juke joint blues shuffles that Shelton could probably write in his sleep. By the third song, however, Big Joe and The Black Prairie Blues Ambassadors, offer listeners something to get excited about: the drum introduction and greasy slide guitar distinguish What Else Can It Be; the zydeco-flavored Psychoanalyst Voodoo Queen, is a rollicking and hilarious tale of Shelton's new voodoo lover: " She came to me through the radio / On a late night New Orleans call in show / She was curing woes from A to Z /...She soothed my soul and my mental mind / Man she made me feel so fine / She's the woman in my dreams," The loping Midnight In Mississippi genuinely captures the pathos of self-loathing and loneliness. And Ashes To Ashes, a tale of betrayal and relational dissolution, is the CD's keynote song and captures the Ambassadors at their best: Ed Swan's bass riff, Will Hunt's tribal drums, Ben Ferrell's slithering and seductive guitar, and Shelton's remarkable, weathered sandpaper voice coalesce into a dynamic whole, creating genuine suspense and…


Posted on December 28, 2011 at 3:02am



Big Joe Shelton – The Older I Get The Better I Was – ALT 45 RECORDS


Harmonica player and singer Big Joe was born in north-east Mississippi and learned the blues as a youngster, befriending the legendary blues veteran Big Joe Williams; the famed Willie King (to whom this release is dedicated) appeared on Joe’s very well-received previous CD, “Black Prairie Blues”, released in 2008. There are ten original numbers on this follow-up set, making me wonder just what an artist has to do to get a recording contract these days. Big Joe Shelton has a big, gritty voice akin to Howling Wolf’s, and although his style is certainly tough, pounding, and unmistakably rooted in Mississippi, it is also quite varied. Much of the time Joe is in down-home mood, with a raw, functional, but nonetheless exciting harmonica style to match, but then again the closer ‘Hard To Get Along’ is subtly gospel-based, ‘Ashes To Ashes’ reminds me of a spooky Santana, and ‘Psychoanalyst Voodoo Queen’ flits between zydeco and N’Awlins R’n’B, with its accordion sound and big horns. ‘Thanks For The Love’ is a Little Willie John-inflected blues-ballad, and ‘What Else Can It Be’ has the martial beat and wild slide of the Hill Country blues. ‘They Can't Be Satisfied’ is an up-to-date anti-racism anthem. All in all, this is a CD certainly well worth investigating.

Rating: 9 - Norman Darwen

Posted on December 28, 2011 at 2:54am

Blues Matters Magazine CD Review (UK)

Blues Matters Magazine Review (UK)

Issue BM61

Big Joe Shelton was born in the Black Prairie region of Northeast Mississippi. ‘The Older I Get the Better I Was’ is his second album on the independent ALT 45 Records label, It was recorded at the B.B. King Recording Studio on the campus of Mississippi Valley State University in the summer of 2010 and includes ten original tracks. Shelton does harmonica and vocals on all tracks and does a fine job indeed. The album rocks along from the first offering, ‘Hole In Yo Soul’ to the last one ‘Hard To get Along’. All tracks offer fine harp blowing, gutsy guitar work from Ben Ferrell (especially on ‘What Else Can It Be’) and some tight rhythm work from Ed Swan on bass and Will Hunt on drums. Jimmy Lee Jr. contributes some good blues keyboards as well. Shelton’s real strength is his writing and all ten tracks are high quality, in particular ‘Psychoanalyst Voodoo Queen’ and played with clear passion. Shelton lists his heroes as Big Joe Williams, Furry Lewis, Junior Kimbrough, and R.L. Burnside. His gravelly voice and direct no nonsense approach to the Blues on this album pay energetic tribute to his heroes. The CD cover says that the album was funded in part by the Department of Education and University sponsored programs – it was money well spent!

Kevin Wharton

Posted on December 28, 2011 at 2:48am

Comment Wall (9 comments)

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At 10:04am on September 11, 2009, Tony Lee King said…
At 6:57am on March 11, 2009, liljimmyreed said…
Hi! Big Joe
I'am sorry it took me so long to post a comment, but I'am new a computer so forgive me. What I won't to say to you is to keep the good work up and remember you've a friend in me.
At 3:34pm on January 27, 2009, Cassie Taylor said…
you mean Bucky?
love Tod, hes a great teacher!
At 12:20pm on January 10, 2009, Sugar Blue said…
Keep Swinging hard my friend!!!!
At 1:00pm on December 18, 2008, Audrey Madison Turner said…
Hi Big Joe
I welcome you as a friend and thanks for having me as yours it is my pleasure. Let's Rock the Blues World.
Love Light & Blessings forever
Audrey Madison Turner
At 11:23am on December 18, 2008, Todd "Doc" Sigmier said…
Thanks Joe...just fo' doin' what you doin'!!! If you ever need slides just lemme noe? The family is always growing and so is the word about these sweet slides!! Long live the Blues!!!
Your Sonic Brother, Doc
At 4:54pm on December 17, 2008, Todd "Doc" Sigmier said…
Keep on Growling Joe!!!! Love to see you come out to Colorado sometime? Lemme noe and we'll hook up and do a live "in the studio" thang!!!

Keep it Real and Strong!!!! Your Sonic Bro, Doc
At 11:39am on September 3, 2008, Rev. Jake O'Connor said…
I like your music. I can hear the Howlin' Wolf and Little Walter influences, but your music is still your own. I'll look for you next time I'm in Memphis. Best of Luck to you.
At 12:07pm on May 10, 2008, Rick Fowler said…
Big Joe,

You sound incredible! Great voice, songs, and playing. Love that Devil song arrangement of instruments. All of the tunes are!

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