Carey Bell Harrington was born in Macon, Mississippi in 1936 and took up the harmonica as a young boy. He came under the tutelage of fatherly keyboard player Lovie Lee (later to become Muddy Waters’ last keyboard player) who ultimately brought him to Chicago in 1956. Carey Bell became a protege of sorts to harmonica savant Big Walter Horton, who back in the ’70s often tried to pass him off to unsuspecting fans as his son.


And while Bell shared no DNA with Horton he certainly picked up a good deal of his tonal mastery by aural osmosis—and by simply hanging out. Bell went on to spend some quality time in the bands of both Muddy Waters and Willie Dixon before going off to headline on his own. His re- cording collaborations with other harp players (notably Big Walter with Carey Bell in 1972 and Harp Attack in 1990, which teamed him up with Billy Branch, James Cotton and Junior Wells) have proven to be some of the top-selling harp LPs of recent decades.


He issued albums on Alligator, Rooster, Evidence, Blind Pig, JSP, Telarc, Wolf, and Delmark, for which he recorded Blues Harp, Heartaches and Pain (Lurrie’s first Delmark appearance), and Gettin’ Up Live, a duet with eldest son, Lurrie.

Guitarist Lurrie Bell (see today’s Front Porch stage for full bio) and his brother, harmonica blower Steve Bell Harrington, will prove they did not fall far from the tree. Steve Bell, who performs with John Primer, is a fine harmonica blower whose energy, tone, and raw style remind many of the playing of their late father, Carey. All of the Bell brothers Lurrie, Steve, Tyson, and James) have united to record A Tribute to Carey Bell, which is hot off the Delmark Records’ presses!

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