Art&Seek presents This Week in Texas Music History. Every week, we’ll spotlight a different moment and the musician who made it. This Week in Texas Music History, we’ll meet a bluesman who played in corner bars and at Carnegie Hall.
You can also hear This Week in Texas Music History on Sunday at precisely 6:04 p.m. on KERA radio. But subscribe to the podcast so you won’t miss an episode. And our thanks to KUT public radio in Austin for helping us bring this segment to you. And if you’re a music lover, be sure to check out Track by Track, the podcast from Paul Slavens, host of KXT’s The Paul Slavens Show, heard Sunday night’s at 8.
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T.D. Bell was born on Dec. 26, 1892, in Lee County, Texas. He began his blues career in the 1940s, performing with piano player Roosevelt Williams, also known as the Grey Ghost. In 1950, Bell moved to Austin. With his band the Cadillacs, Bell helped build a thriving blues scene at the Victory Grill, one of Austin’s most popular nightclubs on the so-called “Chitlin’ Circuit.”
During the 1970s, T.D. Bell took time off from music to run a trucking business. In 1987, he formed the Blues Specialists with Erbie Bowser, a local piano player. Together Bell and Bowser played venues throughout the Southwest, including Austin’s Continental Club. They also toured nationally and performed at Carnegie Hall in 1994.
Next time on This Week in Texas Music History, we’ll go home with the Armadillo, one last time.