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|Birth name||Bill Homans|
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|Birth name||Bill Homans|
Homans has been performing since the 1970s and has been linked to several notable blues musicians, including John Lee Hooker, Robert Cray, Champion Jack Dupree, Bonnie Raitt, "Country" Joe McDonald, and Henry Vestine of Canned Heat.
The first recording project to feature Homans was Merry Airbrakes, an album recorded and released on a small label in 1973 after returning from a tour of duty in Vietnam. Homans had become, after his return home, involved with Vietnam Veterans Against the War, and the album had songs with lyrics reflecting drug use, spiritual exploration, and involvement with the emotional cost of fighting "enemies." The album, originals of which are now highly collectible, has been re-released.
His more recent music is rooted in the Mississippi Delta style, as he plays his dobro guitar lap-style, lefthanded and backwards, with a slide. While for decades typically an acoustic performer, with The Workers he has concentrated more on playing electric.
In 1998, Homans met two Oklahoma State University philosophy professors, Doren Recker and Mike Rhodes, with whom he started a band called "Fried Okra Jones". This band went through several changes in personnel, including the blues woman Honour Hero Havoc, bass player, and guitarist "Texas" Ray Isom. In 1999, Homans recorded for the first time since 1973, an EP CD called "Fried Okra Jones". In 2002, Homans made his first national release for Southern Records, Big Shoes to Fill, produced by his longtime musical colleague from Massachusetts, Chris Stovall Brown, with cousins Kyle and Adam Enevoldsen on drums and bass. A few months later, Homans had a serious heart attack, but bounced back quickly and continued to drive trucks, hauling industrial waste, and in 2003, used his work vacation time to make his first international tour, a solo journey through southern England.
In 2004, Homans left this last truck driving job to go on tour with his supporting band, "The Workers". In 2005, Homans was nominated for the prestigious W. C. Handy Award for "Best New Artist Debut", for his acoustic masterpiece CD, Up Close and Personal, produced by Chris Hardwick. He and his band were also nominated for six more Handy Awards in 2006, in a variety of categories, and for a Maple Blues Award from the Toronto Blues Society for the 2006 album Watermelon Slim and the Workers. In early 2007, this album won in The 6th Annual Independent Music Awards for Best Blues Album. Watermelon Slim & The Workers were also nominated for Blues Album of the year for The Wheel Man in the 7th annual The Independent Music Awards|Independent Music Awards.
In 2007, Homans made the CD The Wheel Man, which was nominated for another six Blues Music Awards. At the awards ceremony in 2008, Homans and his band won the award for Best Blues Band of 2007, and The Wheel Man was awarded Best Blues CD of 2007. Besides that, Homans won the Maple Blues Award for B.B. King International Entertainer. The Wheel Man also was No. 1 Blues Album in England's Mojo Magazine blues CD poll for the second year in a row.
In 2008, The Workers recorded their third CD for Toronto's NorthernBlues record label, No Paid Holidays. Homans was also inducted into the Oklahoma Blues Hall of Fame at this time.
In 2009, this CD was nominated for another four Blues Music Awards, for a total of seventeen awards from the Blues Foundation. A few months later, Escape From the Chicken Coop, Homans' first country-and-western CD recorded in Nashville with Paul Franklin, Darrell Scott and other top Nashville session players, was released on NorthernBlues. Future releases will include another Nashville record, reflecting Homans' North Carolina Grand Ol' Opry roots, an acoustic duo CD featuring Honour Havoc, and blues CDs with Mississippi bluesmen James "Super Chikan" Johnson and Robert "The Wolfman" Belfour.
Homans is a graduate of Lenox School for Boys, a boarding school in Lenox, MA. Homans has a bachelor's degree in journalism and history from the University of Oregon, and a master's degree in history from Oklahoma State University. Before dropping out to enlist in the Vietnam War he had attended Middlebury College. He came back home a fervent anti-war activist, and remains a member and supporter of Vietnam Veterans Against the War.
Watermelon Slim's music is featured in the 2009 environmental documentary Tar Creek, which is about the Tar Creek environmental disaster in Oklahoma. Music from Big Shoes to Fill, Up Close & Personal, plus a live version of "Oklahoma Blues" score this award-winning documentary by writer/director Matt Myers. Homans and Myers met while attending school together at Oklahoma State University.