Bill “Sauce Boss” Wharton – The Life And Times Of Blind Boy Billy | Book & Album Review

Bill “Sauce Boss” WhartonThe Life And Times Of Blind Boy Billy

Peckerwood Publishing

135 pages

CDBlind Boy Billy

Burning Disk Records

7 Tracks/22:27

With a career that spans more than five decades, Bill Wharton has morphed from a high school drummer to gumbo-cooking guitarist who is also a singer/songwriter. He has his own cottage industry, releasing this book and CD in addition to his line of Liquid Summer Hot Sauce products. Wharton’s live shows offer his original songs, slide guitar, and a big pot of gumbo that he conjures up with help from members of the audience, which is then offered for free to all attending the show.

The Life And Times Of Blind Boy Billy is a brief autobiography that reveals some of the major events in Wharton’s life, from his childhood in the Orlando, FL area, to the present. He provides details on the start of his music career, his passion for growing the very best marijuana plants, and his decision to become a hot sauce impresario. Scattered throughout the book are photos in color and b&w depicting Wharton at various stages of life in addition to pictures of his family and their home in Peckerwood, a rural Florida community in a county that still does not have a single traffic light.

Also included are eighteen family recipes for treats like Salmon Haystacks, Butternut Papaya Bisque, and, of course, gumbo with sausage, shrimp, oysters, and crawfish tails. Many of them list his Liquid Summer Hot Sauce as an essential ingredient. Each recipe has a color photo of the finished product. Also interspersed throughout the narrative are the lyrics to twenty of Wharton’s original compositions like “Let The Big Dog Eat,” recently recorded by Albert Castiglia, “Your Maytag Done Broke Down,” and “I’m Cookin”,” featuring plenty of sexual innuendos. At the end of the book, there is a link provided for readers to listen to the songs listed in the book.

Wharton displays his skill as a storyteller, describing people and events in humorous details, utilizing an easy flowing style. By the end of his tale, readers will undoubtedly feel like they have gained a new friend – and some interesting recipes to try.

Also available is Blind Boy Billy, a short, seven track companion CD featuring two songs included in the book. The title track is a sprightly jig with David Davidson’s furious fiddling, a pounding snare drum beat from Dennis Holt, and Joe Murphy holding down the low end on the sousaphone. Following is the Jimmy Buffett-penned “I Will Play For Gumbo,” inspired by Wharton’s live show at Buffett’s Margaritaville restaurant in New Orleans. Wharton belts out the lyrics over a some searing slide guitar licks. “Lonely Girl” is a pensive ballad with Davidson using a viola to add mournful tones.

The heat gets turned up on “Little Driver,” with Wharton doing his one-man band presentation, playing guitar, kick drum, and the hi-hat cymbal while delivering an aggressive vocal. A faster-than-usual cover of “Dock Of The Bay” never quite connects, but Wharton makes a quick recovery on “What She Gonna Do,” another white-hot, one-man band performance. The other song from the book, “Pleasures Of The Deep,” is an introspective love song with acoustic guitar and a four piece string section playing a Davidson orchestration.

Wharton’s travels have covered hundreds of thousands of miles, with mote than 200,000 bowls of gumbo served free of charge. This combination will certainly hold great appeal for his dedicated fan base, built one show at a time. The book certainly provides greater depth to Wharton’s life story. With a few hits of the “repeat” button, the CD is a solid soundtrack as you read. An engaging tale that is worth your time…….

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