Going Down Slow

Bennie Smith and a dwindling cadre of St. Louis music pioneers have a right to sing the blues

That said, he's well aware of the fate that has befallen many older blues musicians.

Bennie Smith, the Dean of St. Louis Electric Guitarists, is still playing club gigs at age 72. He can't afford not to.
Jennifer Silverberg
Bennie Smith, the Dean of St. Louis Electric Guitarists, is still playing club gigs at age 72. He can't afford not to.
Henry Townsend has recorded in each of the past seven decades. He's 96, and still keeping on.
Jennifer Silverberg
Henry Townsend has recorded in each of the past seven decades. He's 96, and still keeping on.

"People in America take blues for granted," Knox says. "I'm still trying to figure out how they runnin' the social security in line with musicians. If I've been playing the blues all my life and I'm making all this money, do I get a social security check too when I come of age? A question like that, ain't nobody ever talked about it. Don't no bluesman talk about how it is having the blues being old."

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