Oklin Bloodworth Interview

This is a short article and interview Oklin Bloodworth published in Southwest Blues magazine in February 1998.

Oklin Bloodworth
"I Just Love to Sing"
by Don O.

Visit J&J Blues Bar in Fort Worth and, chances are, sometime during the evening, you'll spy a thin, distinguished, stylishly dressed gentleman who seems to know everyone in the club. If you're lucky, late in the show, he'll take the stage to sing a couple of tunes with the band. That gentleman is Mr. Oklin Bloodworth, the "official ambassador" of J&J Blues Bar.

If you have seen Oklin perform, it may surprise you to know that he has never recorded. In fact, he has never been a professional musician or singer. Yet, his talent is evident to even the most casual listener. Oklin has a deep, rich voice, and a smooth, professional, classy style that is rarely heard or seen these days. He seems to have stepped right out of the forties, and, in a way, he has. That he remains unrecorded is a sad commentary on the state of the music industry today. Only in a music rich area like Fort Worth or Dallas could such a talent perform, week after week, almost ignored, by all but a few.

Oklin grew up in east Texas, in and around Marshall. He learned to play harmonica and was a fan of country music by the time he moved to Fort Worth in 1941 at the age of 14. It was in Fort Worth that he acquired a taste for his favorite music, ballads. In 1954, after reconciling with his wife, Oklin followed her to California where he remained until 1978. Since then he has lived in Fort Worth.

"I had three sons to raise so I couldn't apply myself to music full time," said Oklin. "I've been a cab driver, a janitor, a business person, I've run a liquor store, and I was an assistant pastor in a Methodist church. Back in the 80's my wife and I leased our own bar, The Aquarium Supper Club, on Evans and Rosedale. I just never did apply myself and never sought no fortune or fame in music. I just love to sing. Other people want to gain notoriety but it doesn't mean nothing to me. I just love to sing. That's all there is to it. I've seen so many beautiful musicians go hungry. Good musicians who devoted all their lives to it and they died hungry. They never hit the right place, at the right time, and had the right person hear them and help take them on to better places. I didn't want to suffer that consequence. I just decided I'd get a job, hang with it, keep food on the table, and a place to lay my head. I've been a jammer all my life."

Oklin is ready to record, if he can find the right musicians to record with and someone who believes in him. "I'm sure I could sit down with a group of good musicians, who could pick up things by ear," said Bloodworth. "I could pick a tune and they could play behind me, like a group is supposed to do. You don't play with a singer, you play behind a singer. There's one or two around here who can do that. They understand me and I can get to do my feelings. I like this kid Bobby Gilmore. He's smooth. You hear the melody all the time. There's no bunch of runnin' and seein' how fast you can run the scales. Just simple playin'. I'd like to have a piano player. Frank Haley would be an excellent player. A good bass player. Somebody like Bill Eden playing saxophone. A good quartet is what I'd like to have. I'd be singing ballads. I would sing the blues that would be different from the three chords that they play all the time. I could get my feelin's off. It's been a long time."

If there is any justice, Oklin will soon get his chance to do his "feelings". If you'd like to see just how special he is, look for Oklin Bloodworth at J&J Blues Bar on Wednesdays through Sundays, Jubilation on Mondays, Tattoo's on Tuesday, and Moose and Vinney's on Wednesday. He'll likely be in the crowd, and if you're lucky, he'll also be on the stage.