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Classical 101

In Memoriam: Willie Pooch

THIS BELONGS IN THE ARTS BLOG, NOT HERE Willie Pooch wasn't, strictly speaking (or maybe even loosely speaking), a classical musician. The Columbus blues singer, who died May 5, was as authentic as they come: he sang about love gone bad and sweating away at Buckeye Steel, about hard days and harder nights, he sang proudly yet without pretense in dives that, in the plain light of day, were perfect dull and dusty foils for his trademark DayGlo suits. But even if he wasn't a classical musician, Willie Pooch was a classic. A year or so ago, I produced a feature about Willie that aired locally during NPR's Morning Edition. At that point in time, Willie's sidemen, along with blues and jazz aficionados as far away as the West Coast, prognosticated great things for him. The message was clear: Willie Pooch is a world-class talent who needs a few bucks, a little more time and a dash of luck to make the big time. The cash never materialized, and Willie's time ran out last week. But I'm not sure about the luck. I like to think that somewhere out there Willie Pooch is singing with a different type of sidemen, a choir of angels with Rock-of-Ages voices belting out what Willie called the "happy blues." I like to think that's what Willie's doing these days because, as the sage Pooch once told me, the whole reason for singing the blues - the doggone hardest-earned of all musical genres - is to be happy. Sing on, Willie Pooch. - Jennifer Hambrick