Another great disciple of the Fred McDowell blues lineage has passed on, Jessie Mae Hemphill has died in Memphis at age 71 from complications of an infection that may have been related to an ulcer. Born in North Mississippi as granddaughter to Lomax fixture Sid Hemphill, Jessie Mae evolved the power of the fife-and-drum sound of the hills into self-stylized rhythmic qualities of electric guitar and had been flooring crowds since the 1960's up until a debilitating stroke in 1993. Besides her hypnotic, fevered approach to anything with strings (including at points a bottleneck style approach to a diddley bow, a long broom wire attached to an outside of a house wall played with metal or by hand), Hemphill also would add to the show with foot and leg operated tambourines, bells, etc. and generally shake up anything not bolted down in the room (attendees includes). Despite the fact that she was largely regarded as a major purveyor of the real blues (one famous tale recounts her all-woman trio taking over a BB King show while his band took a break, and blowing him away), she lived in relative obscurity to the mainstream, being increasingly discovered late in her life along similar lines as Junior Kimbrough and RL Burnside (both of whom she was close to, and have also passed in recent years). Tales filtered in of Jessie living somewhat in a state of squalor through her last decade, fueled with some bits of monetary support for rent and living by fans, and this week's news of her death after checking in to a hospital a week ago is more dismal considering the increasing amount of loss in true keepers of the flame. Some real audio clips to remember Jessie: "Streamlined Train", "Shake It Baby". And three of her CDs are available via Hightone/HMG.