Randy McAllister has been making his living as a song writer for 35 years and he has been into the blues for many years.
That connection led McAllister, a sixth-generation east Texan, to Clarksdale.
“I’ve been coming here since I was a kid from Texas,” McAllister said. “I’ve been making my living in the blues world for so long. This was a place for me to come when I was a kid.”
McAllister, who currently resides in South Dakota, performed at Hambone Gallery with James Van Nuys Tuesday night. Van Nuys is from Rapid City, S.D.
McAllister plays the guitar and harmonica. Van Nuys plays the guitar. The two have been playing together for 13 years.
“I’ve been living there (South Dakota),” McAllister said. “I met my wife there. I live there now because we’re married. She’s from there. I started playing awhile back. When I was off tour, James and I would occasionally do some duo stuff together.”
McAllister has made his living as a song writer for 35 years. He plays blues and soul music.
“One of the songs I get asked to do quite a bit is Brother Bob's Church And Casino,” McAllister said.
The song is about a televangelist named Robert Tilton.
McAllister has played at Hambone Gallery several times and attended the Juke Joint Festival in April. He met Hambone Gallery owner Stan Street at a Coral Gables Blues Festival in Coral Gables, Fla.
McAllister and Van Nuys came to Clarksdale from Key West, Fla. After leaving Clarksdale, they left for Kansas City, Mo.
They stayed at Hambone Gallery Monday night.
Van Nuys came to Clarksdale for the first time this week.
“I’ve known about Clarksdale since I was a teenager learning to play blues,” Van Nuys said. “I worked on the music of all the people that came from here. This is the first time I’ve ever gotten to see the place, though.”
Clarksdale made a positive first impression on Van Nuys.
“It’s really cool for me to see the places that I’ve read about my whole life,” Van Nuys said. “I read the biographies of Son House and Tommy Johnson and all the guys and listen to their music. And, of course, all the recordings they did in the 20s and 30s had references to the places around here.”
Neither musician had the opportunity to get to Clarksdale for much of the COVID pandemic.
“I couldn’t come because everything was shut down,” McAllister said. “All of the tours were cancelled.”
Hambone Gallery was open, but McAllister said there were not tour dates scheduled at other places.