At just the age of 20, if you look at the guitar case of blues legend in the making Slick, you can tell he has been places. Not only has this young man been places, he’s going places too, thanks to a recently inked recording contract.
Slick was born in the most rural part of North Carolina, and said he credits that upbringing with his preference for country living.
"When I look at how things are changing, it makes me sad," he said. "You look at the little country roads now, and there aren’t any.
"They are all just as big as the state highways," Slick said. "People are forgetting what good country living is all about."
It was good country living that showed Slick, a musician since 15 years old, just what the blues were. At the age of 16, Slick found his way from North Carolina down to the Panola and Tate County area.
"I had a friend, Sherman Cooper, that I had met through our mutual love for the music," he said. "I came down here and he introduced me to Otha Turner.
"Turner was living in Tate County and I lived with him for a while," Slick said. "That is what helped me learn and understand what the blues really was."
Slick said while he lived with Turner for a summer, he was introduced to Mississippi Fred McDowell and other great musicians from the area that helped shape his outlook and his musical destiny.
"I got to meet a lot of great people that were in Panola and Tate Counties," he said. "They took a young guy under their wing and helped me understand what real Mississippi blues music is."
Slick, who played his first blues gig in Raleigh, N.C., said he started playing the blues around here after a performance at the Como Steakhouse.
"The first blues festival I was ever invited to play took place just down the road in Sardis," he said.
While admitting there is still a lot of growing he needs to do as a musician, Slick said he has already seen several changes to his musical style in a short time.
"I went back to the roots," he said. "I went back and got deeper and deeper into the Mississippi style of the blues.
"I was able to learn a lot from the black musicians that were open and willing to teach me what they knew, and that made me want to get into what the music was all about," Slick added.
Slick said when he learned of the history of the blues from his countless teachers, he discovered that so many people have a misconception about what blues music really is.
"I hate to say this for the way it is going to sound, but a lot of white people see Stevie Ray Vaughn and think of that as the blues," he said. "That is more of the rock and roll side of the blues than the real blues.
"The real blues came out of the cotton fields in Mississippi," he said. "A lot of old black blues men tell me that the blues were a gift from God. A way for people to sing and dance their blues out."
Slick said he believes blues music provided people a way of expressing their troubles and transgressions without getting bogged down in them.
"Everybody is going to have to go through something hard in this life," he said. "It is those hard times that became the basis of real blues music."
Slick’s hard work and dedication to learning as much as he can about the blues has paid off. He was signed by John Prine’s Ol Boy Records in September.
Ol Boy features a talent roster that includes names like Prine and original country outlaw Kris Kristoferson.
In addition to a record label, Slick also signed with a management group very familiar with the blues.
"I signed with managers out of Minneapolis, Minn.," he said. "They still manage Stevie Ray Vaughn’s band Double Trouble.
"Over they years they have managed people like Luther Albertson and Johnny Lang," Slick added.
With his career now on the fast track, what can his loyal followers of Panola County expect? Slick said we can expect more of the same we have seen from him in the past.
"My first album will be all me," he said. "It won’t be some manufactured sound.
"I will be doing all original music that let’s people see just what good old Mississippi blues music really is," he said.
Slick said his goal through all of the process of recording and touring is to spread a message and the truth behind real blues music.
"Don’t get me wrong, I want to earn a decent living," he said. "But I don’t have to get rich to have a good life.
"I want my music to be something that can go world wide while it stays at home in Mississippi at the same time," he said.
As for those Mississippi roots, Slick said we need not worry about him changing because of his newfound success.
"I was born and raised in the south, and I will probably live the rest of my life in Panola County," he said. "If I ever lose my Mississippi roots, I will quit playing music.
"I promise this is not going to change me," he said. "I am still gonna go out there and keep being Slick."