I had the privilege of seeing Welch perform for us in a Blues classroom, just before his first CD SABOUGLA VOICES, was being released. My passion for the blues music was transcended when I heard him play. It was a small class of 10 students and Welch played in front of the class, and we were schooled, just as the professor would do. Although, I was versed in a different way. Mr. Welch’s guitar cadence and his vocal intonation is what still draws in the audience through his final exit album. Him seeing the good and the bad, finding God, living it and loving this new found life was heard in his music and I will never forget his sweetness in a hug and a kiss as we parted ways.
The beginning of the I came to Praise his Name, the song’s opening riff establishes and introduces us to the rhythms and melody of an individual sound, unlike many gospel or blues of combinations of the genre.
Like Jack White collaborating with Loretta Lynn and wanting to keep authenticity of Nashville music, Dave Auerbach’s mix and release of Leo Bud Welch’s single, I Came to Praise his Name and album, The Angels Done Signed My Name,
which producer Dan Auercach, who considers Welch’s work completely blues gospel, the sound of a generation is recorded and remembered.
Born in Sobougla Mississippi, Leo Bud Welch had never left Mississippi until his life turned around by being discovered in 2013 at the age of 82, with many thinking he was one of the best blues players of his time. Welch felt that on being discovered he was one of the last of his generation. This song and album honors the music of this era.
While producer Auerbach pulls back from his own hardiness and grit that often influences his producing, he lets the clear sound of Welch’s rare 1953 Gibson Les Paul guitar in the studio shine through. Auerbauch wants the sound to do Welch justice and I, as many who heard Welch perform live agree.
The single, I Came to Praise his Name gives way to back up singers, making the listener feel of a community like we may be in church with a choir singing the song. The mix includes the sound of a bass player which is unlike many times where it was only Welch himself performing with a drummer backing him up. Welch’s vocal is unique, and in the mix it seems to be like the sound of someone talking to you, like a preacher on the pulpit. Do not be worried, not fall asleep to this sermon or be bored, you will be engaged with or without the beauty of this guitar. In the beginning, one feels as if I Came to Praise His Name is about one redeeming another but then as the song plays further we find that it may be the Holy Spirit coming to find the man singing, sadly and happily, this calling seems appropriate for the last song and album of this great gospel blues artist.
Living the blues, Leo Bud Welch grew up never having money but found hope in God.
This situation kept him from leaving the Mississippi Delta that inspired the blues and the gospel music that he said “brings you up” . It was only in his eighties that the situation changed and his greatness as a performer took him to places one could only imagine.
And in his words:
“I want to live until the lord gets me ready to go I don’t believe he’s ready for me now”
“Thank the lord backward forward- I’m glad to be here”
With his last album The Angels in Heaven Done Signed My Name and song I Came to Praise his Name released, Welch is still here and we are not ready for him to go.