A little story about blues

May 2015

Photography RONAN GALLAGHER
Words VARNADO

Leo “Bud” Welch Sr. was born in Sabougla, Mississippi in 1932. He picked up a guitar for the first time in 1945. Bud and a cousin would sneak and play the guitar while the actual owner of the guitar (Bud’s older cousin) was away working.

As Bud became confident in his ability to play guitar, he was caught red handed by the owner of the guitar, playing the forbidden to touch instrument. Bud’s older cousin was so impressed with his playing that he gave him free reign to continue playing the guitar.

By 1947, at age 15, Bud could play well enough to perform in public and garnered the blessing of many elder guitar players. He was offered an audition by BB King but could not afford the trip to Memphis.

Bud played the Blues continuously until 1975. At that time he converted to playing mostly Gospel, with the Sabougla Voices, which consisted of his sister and sister-in-law. Bud also played with the Skuna Valley Male Chorus. He earned his living by carrying a chain saw up and down the hills and hollows of North Mississippi, logging for 35 years.

Bud does not believe that Blues is the devil’s music, but a way of expressing the highs and lows of one’s life through song. He has played his guitar for close family and friends for the past 65 years and has remained under the radar, undetected by the vast majority of Blues Aficionados.

His debut album Sabougla Voices was released January 7, 2014 just two months before his 82nd birthday.