About Hosea Hargrove
Hosea Hargrove was born on November 18, 1929, and was raised by his aunt May and uncle Hosea, who gave him his name, in the Crafts Prairie region of Bastrop County. “I was raised up out there in the country, doing farm work,” Hargrove says. “That country life was alright with me.” He picked up acoustic guitar early on, learning the rudiments of the instrument from his father and Sonny Chase, a local stop-time guitar picker who lived nearby. Some of the first guitars he played were homemade, fashioned out of old cigar boxes and screen door wire. “I come up the hard way trying to learn guitar,” Hargrove remembers. “As far as knowing, reading music? Shit, I don’t know nothing about no reading no music or nothing like that. I just play whatever I come up with.”
Hargrove left Crafts Prairie for Dallas in the late 1940s, and took a job washing dishes for a local carhop-style diner. From there, it wasn’t long before he set off cross-country, his acoustic guitar in tow, to follow seasonal farm work across Texas, California, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona, picking up electric guitar along the way from a Phoenix-area player named Willie Thornton. By the time he returned to the Lone Star state in the mid-fifties Hargrove was ready to take his electrified act to the rough and tumble jukes and country beer joints across East Austin and Central Texas, where he has made his home ever since. In 2008 he was inducted into the Austin Music Hall of Fame, and it’s said that Jimmie Vaughan cites Hargrove as one of his favorite guitarists.
Hosea Hargrove is, quite simply, the real deal. His lean, deliberate style sits comfortably at the nexus between the edgy rural blues of Texas troubadours like Lightnin’ Hopkins and Juke Boy Bonner, and the more modern sounds of their amplified successors. And he’s tough. Witness the street smart spoken word of “King Arthur,” where he warns slick wayward pool shooters to “stop signifyin’,” or the menacing slow grind of “Downtown Blues,” a longtime club favorite that showcases Hargrove’s nuanced vocal work. If you like your blues raw and honest, it doesn’t get any better than this.
—Roger Gatchet, Living Blues contributor