Imagine the youngest of 14 children, the son of a Stringer sharecropper, playing his blues music to crowds of thousands in Italy and Switzerland. That’s a long way for someone who came up the hard way, cutting crossties and timber, building a railroad across Lake Ponchartrain and working at sawmills, all before he was 15 years old. L.C. Ulmer returned to his home in the Currie settlement near Ellisville Wednesday night following a week-long tour of blues festivals in the two countries Thursday night.
“It was a reaction I never seen before,” Ulmer said. “They were hollering, dancing. There were other bands there, but most of them left after they heard the blues. I was on the high stage, started playing at 6:30 that night. It was jam-packed and they were hollering and cheering me on. They wanted to hear the blues. They gave me the thumbs up, and I gave them the thumbs up back. I couldn’t speak their language, but when I did that, it was like I was communicating with them. That and singing the blues. I was supposed to only play for 30 minutes, but the next group saw how much the crowd liked my music, and I played til almost 8.”
He played five nights of blues festivals in Switzerland and at the Roots and Boues Festival in Parma, Italy. He toured with the Taylor Grocery Band of Oxford. Justin Showah of the band is Ulmer’s manager....
After playing for nearly 70 years (he’ll be 79 in late August), he is finally being recognized for his talent as a blues singer and writer. He performs only songs he has written. “I don’t want to mock nobody,” he said....With no gigs currently set, Ulmer is enjoying being back in the home he bought in 1983, but only moved to five years ago. He plans to put some songs on CD along with Chase Holifield this summer at a recording studio in Ellisville.