Delta Joe Sanders grew up on Glover Plantation in Desoto County, Mississippi. His father ran the 10,000 acre peration where the family lived and at an early age, Joe developed a kinship with the help, who also lived on the plantation.
"My first [musical] influence was the farm help playing the blues. When I was about ten I remember one day out walking in the cold. I came upon one of the houses on the plantation. They invited me in to get warm. The kitchen was smelling right. Everyone was sitting around the table."
His lyrics, often deceptively simple, range from humourous anectdotes of love-gone-wrong to insightful reflections of the struggle to survive in a fast pace world far removed from the earthiness of the Mississippi Delta. Joe describes his songwriting this way: "A song starts working on me, sort of how pearls are made. They just start agitating. . . "
In 1980, Joe began playing professionallly in a country band in Mississippi. It was only a matter of time before he decided to follow his heart and get back to the blues. For most of the 80's he played solo gigs in Memphis, where he resided until his father's death while Joe wa in high school. Knowing the difficulty of finding musicians dedicated to traditional delta blues, Joe was content to play acoustic solo gigs until one night in 1991 when Robert Nighthawk II asked to sit in on harmonica. The chemistry between the bluesman was so strong that they have been playing together ever since. A high profile musician in the Memphis blues scene, Robert Nighthawk II has fronted The Wampus Cats since forming the band in 1978. Having recorded at Inside Sounds with The Wampus Cats, Robert invited Joe to the studio in 1993 to cut a few tracks. The result was Slow-Cooked Pig Meat, the debut recording of The Memphis Sheiks. Two more CD's are already near completion and scheduled for release in 1995. The Memphis Sheiks are on a mission: when Robert Nighthawk II is heard saying (as he often does) "let's go forth and make a joyful noise," he's not just whistling Dixie