T-Model Ford – a Tribute

It was 1999 in Santa Fe, NM when my band at the time was called Boogiechillin’.  We had just scored a gig playing the Paramount, the nicest joint in town.  When we finished our set. we wandered down the hall to Bar B, a smaller bar located in the same club.  Once I opened the door, I was hit by the most primal, driving, raw music I had EVER heard.  When I looked to the makeshift stage I saw no fancy clothes, no fancy lights, just a man with a pointy guitar who had a rhythm all his own; who sang his stories of a life hard lived.  Joining him was a drummer who complimented the sound perfectly.  These two played and played some more.  No breaks, just more songs.  I couldn’t believe what I had just witnessed.  My world was shaken.  A short time later, our paths crossed again.  I approached him and was ready to shower him with praises.  Before I got a word out he looked at me and asked, “What’s your name?”  I replied, “Ken”.  He smiled and said, “Nice to meet you Ken….I’m T-Model Ford, The Boss Of The Blues.”

-Taken from the CD “Jack Daniel Time – A Tribute To The Legendary T-Model Ford”


After that encounter, a friendship developed.  Both he and I were touring musicians, so usually when we saw each other, it would be while we were in the same town somewhere, that is unless we were on the same bill which happened quite a few times.  Regardless, it was always the same T-Model; the big smile, the stories, the charm and of course the music.  I do credit T-Model Ford for restoring my faith in the blues.  At a time when I was jaded and surrounded by a lot of “Vaughanabees” and cats out there who were playing the “typical” blues tunes at bars, refusing to have an open mind and were self admitted “purists”, it started to leave me with an unfavorable point of view.  T-Model changed that by showing me something different.  In my opinion, the blues from Mississippi’s hill country sounded different than any other blues stylings.  T-Model showed me what passion, attitude a good story and a driving rhythm could do.  It’s funny in retrospect, with all that was effecting my view of the blues, it took a man in his 80’s to set me straight.


Fast forward several years.  It was in Bayport, WI where I saw him last. He was playing with Gravelroad at a very intimate venue.  He sounded amazing as always.  When I approached him, he looked tired, but was still in rare form.  Upon catching up he stated “3 strokes later and I’m still around playing my guitar.”  Apparently a year or so following our last encounter, he suffered a series of more strokes which ultimately took him out of the game.  He couldn’t walk or play his guitar.  I kept reading stories and hearing reports of his failing health.  I read he was in hospice in his home in Greenville, MS when the city deemed the house unlivable and forced T-Model and his wife Stella out.  I was in shock and waiting for something to happen.  I was waiting for someone to do something to help them, as I would have contributed….but nothing seemed to be happening.

t-model ford - jack daniel timeTime was of the essence, I took it upon myself to get the ball rolling.  I got in touch with Stella, T-Model’s wife (who I had only heard of from T-Models songs and stories) and told her my plan.  She and I also struck up a friendship which remains very strong. Being that music is all I know I thought a benefit album would be the way to go.  I put out a call to action.  I sent several emails to artists I knew, some very well known, some not so well known asking to help with this project.  I asked them to record one song and send it my way.  I would cover everything else.  NO ONE responded.  I sent one last email, stressing that one of our elders and fellow artists was in desperate need of help, still nothing.  So, I got my band together, went into the studio and cut an EP.  We cut 4 T-Model classics an original he helped me write. The album was done several months ago, however, lots of legalities had to be remedied.  Thankfully all was taken care of and we released the album a few weeks back.  Finally the Ford’s were starting to see some money to help them in their time of need.

As you know, T-Model passed away last week.  It was heartbreaking…it still is.  However, the response to the album and the generosity of the fans have made an incredibly dark situation a little brighter.  Expenses are being covered and debts are being paid off.  I have given the direct mailing address for anyone who didn’t wish to buy a cd but wanted to contribute and as I’ve stated before, I’m not making one dime on this album.  All proceeds go to T-Model’s family to cover their bills.  If you wished to purchase the physical CD via PayPal ([email protected]), you can absolutely donate more than the suggested $12.00 price.  All of it helps.  I want to make absolutely sure that everyone knows this album was made to help out a man I love and respect as well as his family.  Nothing more.  It’s not about me or what I stand to gain from this.  Stella and I remain in close contact and she can attest to all I’ve done.  At some point in time, when the bills are squared away, she and I agreed it would be nice to have the proceeds go to either a grant or scholarship of some sort in his name.  I will be looking into that in the very near future.  But for now, the family still needs help and I’m just doing the best I can, because, in the end I do believe a little love goes a long way.

can be sent directly to:
Estella Ford
216 North Delta St.
Greenville, MS 38703

PayPal ($12US $20INT)
[email protected]

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