The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

October 24, 2012

Walkin’ Cane brings blues to Marlinton


— Bluesman Austin “Walkin’ Cane” Charanghat brings his slide guitar and soulful voice to the Pocahontas County Opera House Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $8.

Walkin’ Cane has a blues gumbo repertoire that can conjure up the ghosts of Highway 61 and the delta blues experience. He has traveled all over the world — from New Orleans, La., to Belfort, France, England, Wales, and even Kathmandu, Nepal.

Along the way, Walkin’ Cane has acquired a number of blues and instrumentalist awards. He has opened for or performed with a number of other notable musicians, including B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Taj Mahal, Dr. John, Gregg Allman, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Ted Nugent, BR549 and many others.

Charanghat walked for 10 years with a cane due to an arterial venous malformation at birth. While performing on Bourbon Street in New Orleans, a homeless man called out “Hey, Walkin’ Cane, got some spare change for a brother?”

Charanghat took the jibe as his nickname.

In 1996, after years of battling the inevitable, his left leg was amputated below the knee. A year after the surgery, he returned to the music scene stronger and without need of a cane.

In 2002, Charanghat and Karen Starks were married at Sun Studios in Memphis, Tennessee. Immediately after the ceremony, he recorded his album “706 Union Ave.” at the legendary studio.

“The thought of getting married and recording in the same room where many of my heroes took their first steps was incredible,” says Charanghat.

Walkin’ Cane honed his musical chops with years of studying the masters of the blues. Such influences include Willie Dixon, Robert Johnson, Son House, Blind Willie Johnson, Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, Taj Mahal, B.B. King, Albert King, Professor Longhair and Snooks Eaglin just to name a few.

In addition to his stage performances, Walkin’ Cane has created an hour long presentation titled “Highway 61 and the Blues.” It has been performed as a master class at several universities and at Blues In The Schools presentations for children in elementary through high school. The show is a blues history that begins in the swamps of New Orleans continues through the birthplace of the blues in the Mississippi delta, following the legendary highway north to the electrified blues of Chicago.

Walkin’ Cane’s “Murder of a Blues Singer,” recorded in 2008, was inspired by an after hour dinner conversation with blues legend Robert Junior Lockwood.

Inherently the album is saturated in classic delta blues, as were the tales of Lockwood’s stepfather, Robert Johnson, who was poisoned by a jealous husband in a 1937 Mississippi juke joint. Lockwood had agreed to perform on the record, but fate had changed that path with his passing at age 91.

Doors at the Opera House open at 6:30 p.m. Saturday. Children 17 and under are admitted free of charge. Tickets are available in advance at pocahontasoperahouse.org and at the 4th Avenue Gallery in Marlinton.

The Pocahontas County Opera House is located at 818 Third Avenue in Marlinton.

For more information, call 304-799-6645.