Since he's entering his eighth decade, Little Joe Washington gets a pass (for now) on any speculation about whatever bargain the iconic, dreadlocked local electric bluesman must have struck with sinister celestial forces to achieve such longevity. The fact remains that, compared to almost a year ago at this time — when he was laid up in Ben Taub's ICU with a life-threatening liver ailment — Little Joe is healthy again, tooling around town on his ubiquitous bicycle and due at New Orleans's Ponderosa Stomp rootstravaganza next month. He's even got a new album, Texas Fire Line (Dialtone), pairing covers of James Brown's "I'll Go Crazy" and Sam Cooke's "You Send Me" (Little Joe is always going somewhere) with originals like "Ike" — guess what that's about — and "Church House Blues"; Saturday's birthday party doubles as Fire Line's CD release. When it comes to who might be joining Joe onstage — crashing his party for once instead of vice versa — Houston blues scholar Dr. Roger Wood says he's invited Washington's fellow old-guard local blues lions I.J. Gosey, Grady Gaines and Earl Gilliam, but isn't sure which of them (if any) will be able to make it. Sounds oddly familiar for some reason...
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