When I was about 7 or 8 years I saw Blind Arvella Gray playing a National Steel resonator guitar on Ellis avenue near 63rd Street on the south side of Chicago. This was around 1958 or ’59. There was a large crowd of adults around him and when he finished the song he was playing, the adults begged him to play it again. Mr. Gray told the crowd ” I cain’t keep playin’ dis stuff fo’ nuthin’ now, dis is how I make my livin’!.” The adults around him could not get their hands inside their pockets fast enough. Arvella had a tin cup clipped to the lapel of his jacket pocket which the adults filled up with half dollars and quarters. Some of the coins spilled onto the sidewalk. Me being the closest person to the sidewalk, began picking up the overflow of coins and stuffed them inside Mr. Gray’s jacket pocket. Of course, I was taking my little cut for my labor, after which Mr. Gray launched into the tune again. I have not been the same since. After that day, I made it my mission in life to see and hear every guitar player who came into view on the streets and taverns in Chicago and there were plenty. My sound today is a combination of those guitar players, singers, harmonica and piano players. My Biography:
“Diamond” Jim Greene
I was born and raised on the south side of Chicago until I was 12. My family moved a lot spending time in Alabama, Georgia, Ohio, Kansas and West Virginia. I have performed in numerous blues band configurations over the years including with the Southern California-based, all acoustic, “Blues Ambassadors” during the mid 1980’s. Even while with the Blues Ambassadors I performed gigs solo or with just a harmonica player.
For the last 25 years, I have pretty much performed unplugged and solo, or with a harmonica player and/or upright bass and sometimes piano and tuba. The late John Cephas with Phil Wiggins, the late John Jackson, the late Archie Edwards, Paul Geremia, Roy Bookbinder, all of whom I had the pleasure of meeting and playing with during the mid 1980’s, remain constant influences as does fellow Chicagoan, the late “Honeyboy” Edwards.
I have toured extensively throughout Europe since 1995, spreading the good news about acoustic blues on major festival stages in the U.S. and abroad, including multiple years in the Chicago Blues Festival; the Long Beach Blues Festival and several years in the International Blues Festival at Lucerne, Switzerland, to name but a few.
My instruments of choice are prewar National Steels and 12 string guitars. At most of my gigs I play my Nationals plugged in or in front of an SM-57 Microphone. I have had the unbelievable pleasure of opening shows for James Cotton, Buddy Guy, the late Ike Turner, Otis Clay, the late KoKo Taylor, John Hammond, Duke Robillard, the late John Cephas & the still alive Phil Wiggins, Saffire (the Uppity Blues women), Sherman Robertson, Joe Louis Walker, Mississippi Heat, Lonnie Brooks, and a host of other well-established blues performers.
At the present time I am based out of Chicago, and I am looking forward to playing engagements both large and small all across America and the world just as I have done for over 20 years. I have a brand new CD, it’s called “Surrounded” and it is available now at CDbaby.com or by visiting www.diamondjimgreene.net. For more information including booking, please contact: Cooling Board Records P.O Box 940 Evanston, Illinois 60204 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org