After undergoing a second surgery Tuesday to clear an obstructed bowel, Little Joe Washington is now awake and reasonably alert, his friend Reg Burns told Rocks Off this afternoon. Burns said he talked to one of the nurses attending the 71-year-old in the surgical intensive care unit at Ben Taub Hospital, and that he saw a copy of Washington's bio on the table next to his bed ("people know who he is"). Washington recognized both him and the bluesman's live-in companion Mary, he added, and at least tried to talk although his throat was pretty dry. "He was talking as much as he could," said Burns, the director of Finance & Operations for the Miller Outdoor Theatre Advisory Board. "I get the feeling he's feeling better, because he was complaining [about wanting to go home]." According to the nurse, Washington will remain in the ICU until doctors are sure all the blockage is clear, when he will be moved to a regular room, Burns said. He last visited Washington Sunday, and remarked he was much "more lucid" today after Tuesday's surgery. Washington, the reigning Houston Press Music Awards Musician of the Year (among other awards he took home last year), was first admitted to Ben Taub May 23 after first being sent home. He remained in a coma and on a ventilator for several days following the initial surgery. "He's looking good," Burns said. "He just needs to heal some." Burns said Washington has had several other visitors, including his daughter and drummer Kevin Blessington. He is in the surgical intensive care unit on the fourth floor of Ben Taub Hospital, 1504 Taub Loop in the Texas Medical Center. Surgical ICU visiting hours are 10-10:30 a.m., 1-1:30 p.m. and 7-7:30 p.m.; the hospital's main switchboard number is 713-873-2000. No benefits to help Washington defray his medical expenses have been announced (yet), but if you are interested in helping out, please email Rocks Off and we will be happy to put you in touch with the proper parties.
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