Big Boy Martin Grant Remembered

Including a video musical montage

Big Boy Martin Grant playing at Magical Madge and Poor William's pirate wedding

Big Boy Martin Grant playing at Magical Madge and Poor William’s pirate wedding

By POOR WILLIAM

VIDEO and PHOTOS IN POST   

That’s the way that the world goes “round. You’re up one day and the next you’re down. It’s half an inch of water and you think you’re gonna drown. That’s the way that the world goes ‘round. — John Prine

Big Boy is Gone and the World is Much Smaller. Tis hard to do a tribute for someone I loved, yet hardly knew. Big Boy Martin Grant was a fine man, an outstanding harp player, a wonderful entertainer and a gentle, slightly demure foil for the affable Sean “Bad” Apple and his Hill Country Blues persona. He passed away on March 6, 2015. I loved this Hill Country Blues team, reminiscent of Abbott & Costello, Laurel and Hardy, Gleason and Carney, Junior and R.L.

Nobody but nobody could watch this team perform without smiling a big-ass, ear-to-ear grin. Sean and Big Boy were part of the storied All Night Long Blues Band, which included a drummer—Dixie Street for a while—Iceman at times, and other sit ins. Always a good time when the band played.

I first met Sean and Big Boy when they played gigs at Madidi, Morgan Freeman’s restaurant, when Magical Madge was managing it. In fact, they were in on my proposal to Madge in the Madidi bar over five years ago, playing a song as I wooed my beloved! Robert Plant was in the house that night and actually called my kids to tell them I was engaged.

Sean and Big Boy played at our wedding at the Clark House Inn a few weeks later. We have seen the peripatetic Big Boy do his “thang” on numerous occasions over the last few years at Ground Zero Blues Club, Red’s Lounge, New Roxy, Madidi, Po Monkey’s in Merigold, King Biscuit Festival in Helena, the IBC’s in Memphis, the Blue Levee in Rosedale, and other venues in the Delta and thereabouts.

VIDEO

I don’t know a lot about Big Boy biography wise, but I knew he had a tough life, worked his ass off at several jobs, was not always treated as the gentle giant should have been, yet he never let life’s hardships deter the joy he drew in performing and facilitating joy in others.

Big Boy owned a small electronic’s shop in Senatobia, MS and delivered papers for the Commercial Appeal. His day began when most musicians were winding down, often rising not long after midnight to begin rolling papers and beginning his delivery. We would often go outside during his musical breaks and share a bit of shine and some conversation. I would ask him how much sleep he would get that night and it was usually none! Straight from gig to paper delivery then to electronics shop.

Even my Mom loved Big Boy! Everyone did! Please enjoy a hastily put together video remembrance Madge and I pieced together today from the gajillion videos we have of him and the All Night Long Blues Band. The solo Sean performs at the end, “That’s the Way That the World Goes Round,” by John Prine, was sung at Ground Zero Blues Club a couple years ago in honor of local musician Charlie Moore. It is also a fitting tribute to Big Boy. Thank you Big Boy and Sean for bringing so much joy to so many folks for so long, all night long, in fact! Vaya con Dios!

P.S. Catch Sean “Bad” Apple’s return to Bluesberry Café in downtown Clarksdale tonight, Monday, April 6, 2015! I am sure there will be a Big Boy remembrance or two and this will officially kick-off the Juke Joint Festival week-long celebration.


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Comments

  1. Frank McKenna says:

    Thanks to Billy and Madge for this wonderful and heartfelt tribute to Martin. He will be missed by all who knew him.

  2. Stuck in boring old uk watching big boy with the band.Wish one day i could visit c/dale.best wishes.Bill.”” newcastle upon tyne.uk

  3. Chloe Grant says:

    hey this is Chloe Grant i am Martin Grants daughter it’s been 4years since my dads pass but sometimes i still read his obituary’s and watch youtube videos with him in it me and my sister colby miss him very much. most of these writings fail to include that along with being a wonderful and talented musician he also was the best dad ever and he would do anything for us he spent a lot of time with all his jobs and music and i’m really sad that i wasnt quite old enough to go watch him i wish that i could have gotten to know him more but i was only 11 when he passed it makes me smile to see that so many people loved him but they never know about or hear about his two little girls. some gigs i could go to and you would see us sitting on his lap as he played his harmonica or sang a song. he would write us songs and one time even tried to teach me how to play the guitar. anyways i know you will probably never see this but i just wanted to say this.

    • Thank you for writing this, Chloe. Billy and I loved your father. He was a kind and loving man. I am not surprised he left an indelible impression with you and on you. Hang on to your memories. His love makes you part of who you are today. He would love that you are carrying on his sweet spirit.

      Again, thanks so much for sharing. It is hard to believe four years has passed. He touched so many lives with his joyful soul. What a good man he was. I know you are very proud.

      God bless and keep you, Chloe.
      Madge

  4. Boathouse Blues says:

    Your father came all the way to Wisconsin to play for us at a private gig along with Sean Apple and Stud. He was loved by all to say the least, but what I most fondly remember is sitting on an old pontoon boat floating around after the set and chatting. Someone asked about his daughters and it was if said magic words…. he absolutely glowed. This quiet kind man became the most radiant, beaming person on the planet as he went on about his daughters and how much he loved them and was so proud of them. It was one of the most inspiring moments of my life. This man was so talented and filled with love. He lives on very brightly in the hearts of all that had the fortune to meet the man behind the harp.

    • This is a beautiful memory you shared, Boathouse Blues! Thank you so much for sharing! Martin had God’s light shining through him, no doubt! We all miss him and it feels good to remember him today through this personal story. I can see the twinkle in his eyes right now! He was a genuine, loving man.

      Thanks so much for commenting.

      —Madge 😊🙏💛

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