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All Music Guide:
When Los Angeles-based guitarist Smokey Wilson really got serious about setting a full-fledged career as a bluesman in motion, it didn't take him long to astound the aficionados with an incendiary 1993 set for Bullseye Blues, Smoke n' Fire, that conjured up echoes of the Mississippi Delta of his youth. Robert Lee Wilson lived and played the blues with Roosevelt "Booba" Barnes, Big Jack Johnson, Frank Frost, and other Mississippi stalwarts before relocating to L.A. in 1970 when he was 35 years old. But instead of grabbing for the gold as a touring entity, he opened the Pioneer Club in Watts, leading the house band while the club booked the very best in blues talent (all-star attractions at the fabled joint included Joe Turner, Percy Mayfield, Pee Wee Crayton, Albert Collins, and plenty more).
Wilson recorded sparingly at first, his LPs for Big Town not doing the man justice. A 1983 set for Murray Brothers (later reissued on Blind Pig) with harpist Rod Piazza and Hollywood Fats on rhythm guitar may have been the turning point; clearly, he was gearing up to leave his Mississippi mark on Southern California blues. Smoke n' Fire from 1993, its 1995 encore The Real Deal (a title now used for three contemporary blues albums in a year's time: John Primer and Buddy Guy have also claimed it), and 1997's The Man from Mars nominate Smokey Wilson as one of the hottest late bloomers in the blues business.
Smokey Wilson (born Robert Lee Wilson, July 11, 1936, Glen Allan, Mississippi, United States)) is an American West Coast blues guitarist. He has spent most of his career performing West Coast blues and Juke Joint blues in Los Angeles, California. He has recorded at least eleven albums for record labels such as P-Vine Records, Bullseye Blues and Texmuse Records. His career got off to a late start, with international recognition eluding him until the 1990s.
Wilson played alongside Roosevelt "Booba" Barnes, Big Jack Johnson, and Frank Frost, before his move to Los Angeles in 1970. He opened the Pioneer Club in Watts, where he was the frontman of their house band. In addition his duties included booking blues musicians to appear at the club, which included Big Joe Turner, Percy Mayfield, Pee Wee Crayton and Albert Collins. His down to earth guitar playing is typical of his Mississippi Delta background. "I bring the cotton-field with me," he said, "and I got the juke-joint inside."
Wilson released two albums on Big Town Records in the 1970s. His 1983 album, 88th Street Blues, for the Murray Brothers label (later re-issued on Blind Pig Records) had contributions from Rod Piazza (harmonica and record producer) and Hollywood Fats (rhythm guitar). Wilson has performed three times at the Long Beach Blues Festival, in 1980, 1981 and 1999; having earlier appeared at the San Francisco Blues Festival in 1978.
Smoke N' Fire (1993) and The Real Deal (1995) followed, as Wilson's reputation began to grow as he reached his sixtieth year.