Meet the Mississippi Delta’s Oldest Remaining Bluesman

Baritone in depth and naturally corse, “Bud” Welch’s music parallels the mystique and mastery of authentic delta blues.

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Born in 1932 along the Skuna River in Calhoun County, Mississippi, Leo “Bud” Welch has a voice that echoes history. Baritone in depth and naturally corse, his music and his message parallel the mystique and mastery of authentic delta blues.

As part of Foster Visual’s “While I’m Here” documentary series, this short film details one of the last remaining blues performers from the Mississippi Delta era. Bud began playing at the age of 13 for friends, family and the church while making a living in the logging industry. “I was just raised up in the blues and gospel and all that”, he recalls. “We didn’t have no money, but my momma and dad use to tell us, ‘do the best you can.’”

After seven decades of performing as a relative unknown, Bud has found a new generation of listeners interested in the legacy of his craft. A traveling musician at the age of 83, Welch notes the importance of passing his music along. “I hope as I continue on someone will follow in my footsteps — that’s my biggest hope, to tell you the truth.” He’s also well aware of his place in history of Southern blues. “I’m the oldest one I know, the oldest blues singer that’s left.” Content in the twilight of his life, Bud remains optimistic: “The most important thing, I believe, is what I’m doing now — trying to go make something of myself before I leave this world.”

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