Little Joe McLerran
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Little Joe McLerran

Sapulpa, Oklahoma, United States | INDIE

Sapulpa, Oklahoma, United States | INDIE
Band Blues Singer/Songwriter


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This band has not uploaded any videos



"Memphis Bound 2006"

The Galileo Bar and Grill was packed with Oklahoma Blues Society members and other blues lovers to witness the competition which would determine who would represent OBS at the 22nd Annual International Blues Challenge in Memphis on January 26-28, 2006. The competition will lead to the unveiling of the worlds best undiscovered Blues band (3 members or more) and the worlds best undiscovered Blues solo / duo - presenting the winners with the coveted Handy Award.

The stage was set with amps, drums and a PA system. Seven regional Blues acts gathered in a corner of Galileo's where the order of performance was determined by the "scientific method" of names out of a hat. The IBC rules of competition are well outlined and were strictly followed. Each act had 20 minutes to state their case and would lose points if they went over the limit. The judges were in their places leafing through their scorecards when the first act took the stage.

'Who is that dude?" That was the question floating through Galileo's as Little Joe McLerran strolled through wearing a long black coat and dapper homburg. Some thought he was an undertaker or some throw back to the days of the speakeasy and the secret password. But after the last note was played and the dust had settled it was Little Joe with his bass player Rob Mack, who would represent OBS in Memphis. It is the first time OBS has chosen a solo / duo act.

Little Joe, a transplant from Boulder, Colorado, is now based in Tulsa. He performs regularly around North Eastern Oklahoma and Arkansas with occasional trips to Colorado and New Orleans.

His style of Roots Blues is drawn from inspirations by Big Bill Braonzey, Blind Blake, Lonnie Johnson, Tampa Red, Rev. Gary Davis and many more. His sets are peppered with originals written in these styles.

Picking up the guitar at age eight Joey made his first public appearance in a multi-cultural program with his 4th grade class performing a Leadbelly song and a guitar rag by Rev. Gary Davis. Along with his late brother Jesse on drums he played the Pearl Street Mall in Boulder with his band "Buddy Hollywood" singing Bob Marley songs, Beatle tunes and these old style blues songs. Joey was 9 and Jesse was 7. They were the rage of the Mall making good money for a couple of young blues men. The tips they made became the envy of all the other street players.

Moving with the family to Tulsa in 1998, Joe turned his focus to the blues. Brother Jesse switched from drums to the washboard and they began performing at the Rivers Edge Bistro and other restaurants around Tulsa. They had just completed recording their first CD, "Son Piedmont and the Blues Krewe" on the HBR label when Jesse tragically died in an accident. It took months to mix the recordings and release the CD which Joey dedicated to Jesse. It was difficult to pick up the pieces and move on with the music they so intimately shared. Little Joe started over and soon had the attention of a production company in Fayetteville, AR. His second CD "Little Joe - the Hard Way" was released in 2005 on the Hit Records label.

Rob Mack, Joe's bassist / driver, is also Joe's father. He refers to Little Joe as his kid brother and has been part of Joey's band since the first gig. Rob, a traveling musician who decided to settle down and have a family, had abandoned a career that included recording contracts with Capitol Records and MCA Records. He has toured nationally and internationally with a number of bands. - Back Beat - OK Blues Society

"A London View of Tulsa"

By Lata Gouveia
March/April 2008 - -During my stay a lot of people told me that Little Joe was a must see and for some reason I just never got to see him play ... until a couple of days before I left. I saw him briefly at the Cimarron's Sunday jam and my friend Mike Lasota arranged for us to go and see him at his flat in Sapulpa the next day.

The only way I can describe it is with a time warp. As soon as we parked outside the house we were back in the 1930's. The whole atmosphere of the place, the hardwood floors, the 78 records and the upright ' piano in one corner of the room; his guitars and even his girlfriend painted the perfect picture of a Robert Johnson contemporary. The only thing bringing me back to our present time was Mike and I, with our recording gear and video camera.

We chatted for a little while and then Little Joe played a couple of songs for us; I Want Some Sea Food and Rattle Snaking Daddy ... and, sure enough, he sounded just like an old Blues 78' record!I could not believe just how chronologically perfect this guy and his resonator sounded!

I mean, I've seen a lot of blues and heard a lot of blues and what he was doing wasn't new to me ... but I'd never seen a living man doing it! Nor could I imagine that someone might be playing this stuff in 2007.
This guy is 25 years old!!! It was like watching Robert Johnson or Son House in the flesh! I had to ask him whether he knew anyone from his generation who could dig where he was coming from. He said he didn't know many people "at all" that were into that sort of thing ... I mean, the blues this guy plays is too old for even the old timers! English blues researchers will love this man, mark my words.


- Blues News - BST

"A Chamed Life"

Tulsa World - Nov. 23, 2008

Little Joe bottles lightning with new CD, prepares for third International Blues Challenge

Little Joe McLerran is Tulsa’s only known finger-pickin’ Piedmont blues aficionado.

He’s also just 24 years old and playing music generally mastered by people 40 years his senior.

But don’t let that fool you.

The blues is a complex genre, and Piedmont blues, from the southeastern United States, merges rag time, swing and jazz into melodies that sound almost like piano rolls on a guitar. The style also is typified by more intricate chord changes.

And Little Joe mastered it, all right, when he was a tyke, playing with his daddy Robbie Mack at just 8 years of age, he said in a recent telephone interview.

“We were a trio, with my brother on washboard,” he said.

Since then, he’s moved to Tulsa and taken his unique style to a whole new level — and to a new generation. The suit-clad and fedora-wearing guitar player will release his first live CD, “Live at Last — Vol. 1” on Friday, right here in Tulsa.

The CD release party will start at 8 p.m. at the Tulsa VFW, 1109 E. Sixth St...

“I’d been listening to my studio stuff, and figured that if I could get my live sound — really put electricity behind it - that ‘old sound’ of blues would actually sound more modern,” he said.

And by electricity, he means life, emotion and a sense of drama, which is what he captured when he recorded 11 tracks in Boulder, Colo., last spring.

After all, it’s his live show that’s won over his growing fanbase.

Oct. 20, he and his Big Three Trio (featuring his father, Jimmy “Junior” Markham and Ron McRorey) won the best band category in the Blues Society of Tulsa Blues Challenge, and will travel to Memphis in January to compete in the International Blues Challenge, he said.

He’s made it to the international challenge for the past two years, as well, but for best solo/duo act.

Will the third visit be the charm? “They’re looking for something particular. It’s a little baffling,” he laughed.

“But really, it’s just a lot of fun to meet blues players from all over the world,” he said.

“This is real stuff. It’s raw, human emotion,” he said. “It’s really something.”

And, just maybe, it’s the way he coaxes music from his smooth and sweet, deeply-hued Gibson guitar, which is more than twice his age.

- Tulsa World

"Little Joe brings Piedmont to Boulder"

By Greg Glasgow, Camera Music Writer
Thursday, March 29, 2007
Boulder Daily Camera

Little' Joe McLerran came to the blues early on, discovering the music as a kid through friends of his dad, longtime local bass player Rob McLerran. When he was a teenager, Joe and his brother, Jesse, played on the Pearl Street Mall as "Buddy Hollywood," a duo specializing in the Beatles, Bob Marley and the blues. Joe played guitar and Jesse — who died in an accident a few years ago — played drums.

Little Joe McLerran
Seven years ago the family moved to Tulsa, Okla., where Joe adopted the name "Son Piedmont" and immersed himself in the acoustic Piedmont blues style of the '20s and '30s. Now a full-time performing musician, Joe comes to Nissi's in Lafayette tonight to play the blues with his dad, Rob, clarinet and sax player Dexter Payne and drummer R J Whetstone aka Damprock.

The Camera recently caught up with Joe McLerran, 23.

Q: How did you start out playing the blues?

A: Growing up in Boulder, (I knew) a lot of the musicians around there, like BBQ Bob, Washboard Chaz and those guys. I just spent a lot of time listening to their music as a kid and was just around it all the time.

Then I had a fourth-grade teacher at Lafayette Elementary who, when I was about 9 years old, asked me to check out the blues. So I did, and I got really into it and wanted to learn how to play guitar.

Q: You started playing on the mall with your brother a couple of years after that — did you have the idea then that you wanted to be a professional musician when you grew up, or were you just having fun?

A: I kind of always wanted to be (a professional). Being around all those musicians, all those old guys are pretty cool.

Q: How was it when you moved to Tulsa? Was there a different musical atmosphere there?

A: I played there for a little while, all kinds of stuff. I got into everything from punk rock to hip-hop and stuff like that. I was just always listening to all kinds of music, but I happen to play pretty much strictly blues.

Q: When did you start on the pro circuit, playing bars and clubs and places like that?

A: When I was about 18 or 19 years old.

Q: And it sounds like there never was any question that that's what you were going to do.

A: When I got out of high school, I couldn't see myself doing anything else.

Q: And were your parents behind it? They thought it was a good idea?

A: Yeah. My dad told me — because he's been a musician his whole life — he said it's a hard life and it takes a lot of dedication, but it's doable

Q: Do you play your own songs or classic blues stuff?

A: I do my own renditions of these really, really old blues things. I have some original material, but for the most part I listen mostly to Piedmont-style blues, like East Coast-style, from 1928 to the mid-'30s or so. Big Bill Broonzy, Tampa Red, Blind Blake, Lonnie Johnson — some of those guys.

Q: Are there still songs out there for you to discover, or have you heard most of them at this point?

A: I'm always listening to stuff and getting new stuff. I'll probably always be out there finding new stuff to listen to.

Q: Do you have to seek a lot of that stuff out on vinyl?

A: They're actually doing some cool stuff with CDs. You can buy the complete recorded works of just about anybody. People overseas have taken a big interest in this old-time blues stuff.

Q: What kind of fan base have you built up?

A: It attracts all different sorts of people. Old people, young people — I've got a pretty good little fan base around here. Very diverse.

Q: You were a kid growing up in the'80s and'90s listening to blues — it seems like each generation rediscovers the blues and it never really gets old.

A: It sure doesn't. I don't think those songs will ever die. It's up to people to be aware of it, but there's people like me out there keeping it alive.

Q: What do people like about the blues?

A: It's just that human emotion. It's a feeling. It's about the most kind of real music out there, I believe.

- Boulder Daily Camera

"Young Blood - Little Joe McLerran"

Little Joe McLerran heads to Memphis to play his Piedmont blues

By Matt Elliott
World Scene Writer

Little Joe "Sun Piedmont" McLerran didn't go to college. Instead McLerran, 23, decided to try his hand at being a blues man.

"They can't teach you how to do that in school," said McLerran, the lanky and mustachio-sporting guitarist who plays a special style of music called " Piedmont blues."

The Blues is a complex genre, with divisions that include "Delta blues" - a simpler but more raw style of blues from the Mississippi Delta region, popularized by artists such as Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf.

But "Piedmont blues," from the southeastern United States, merges ragtime, swing and jazz into melodies that sound almost like piano rolls on a guitar, McLerran said. The style also is typified by more intricate cord changes.

He has been playing this kind of music since he was about 8 years old, he said, beginning as a kid growing up in Boulder, Colo. He moved with his family to the Tulsa area at 15, but never stopped playing the blues, despite an attempt at forming a metal band.

"That's really the first thing I really wanted to learn." he said, adding that his father, Rob McLerran, listened to old blues musicians. McLerran plays bass for his son in their duo.

McLerran's influences include Homesick James, Big Bill Broonzy, Bumble Bee Slim, Blind Boy Fuller and Robert Johnson.

"The old blues stuff, it's raw human emotion.. These people aren't superstars. They're really saying what they feel and they have emotion behind it - like real, genuine emotion."

He unleashes that raw emotion on an old Gibson guitar that's more than twice his own age.

McLerran released his last album, "Little Joe the Hard Way," in 2005, had he is working on some new material. His first album was "Son Piedmont and the Blues Krewe," which featured McLerran's younger brother Jesse on washboard, Jesse was killed in an accident following that disc's 2003 recording.

The McLerrans competed last year in Memphis, but lost. This year, if they win first place, they'll receive prizes including $1,000. The competition takes place on Beale Street each year, McLerran said.

- Tulsa World

"Little Joe McLerran - Blues God"

Brookside Blogger Speaks Up...
Litttle Joe McLerran - Blues God
By Lamont Cranston

Nov. 17, 2008 - "Lest I give Tulsa totally short shrift on the artistic achievement scale, I really should take a moment out to praise Little Joe. Joe is by far the best living acoustic blues musician that I have ever heard. He is like a collection of 78 rpm records come to life, but he is much, much more than a nostalgia act. He plays Tulsa quite a bit, of course, but he gets around a bit too. You can catch him in Memphis at the International Blues Challenge Feb.5th -7th, 2009."
- Brookside Blogger


Believe I'll Make a Change - RBR - 2010
Live at Last - RBR - 2007
The Hard Way - Hit Records - 2006
Son Piedmont and the Blues Krewe - RBR - 2004



Little Joe won the 2009 International Blues Challenge in Memphis at the age of 25. It was the 25th annual staging of the event and as Little Joe took first place in the solo division he thought, “Why did this take so long”? Little Joe has been playing the guitar and singing his piedmont blues since he was eight.
Little Joe performs solo or with his band as circumstances determine. This year Little Joe assembled his band and toured for a month around the Persian Gulf as part of The Rhythm Road: American Music Abroad hosted by Jazz at Lincoln Center and the Education and Cultural Affairs bureau of the US Dept of State. He and his band played the first public concert by an American band ever in Riyadh, the capitol city of Saudi Arabia. It was blues all the way. (See Wall Street Journal article June 17, 2010)
Since winning the IBC title Little Joe has played festivals, concerts and club dates across the US and abroad. His critically acclaimed CD “Believe I’ll Make a Change” rose to number 1 on the blues radio charts early in 2010 and remained at the top of the charts for months. (See Downbeat review Sept /10)
His Indy film titled “Shuffle Diplomacy”, a music documentary of experiences with his band last spring in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Oman, along with a live performance CD of music from the shows is scheduled for release this fall on Root Blues Reborn Records. (Watch
As Little Joe approaches his 27th birthday with so much going on he asks, “What’s the rush”?