Bill “Watermelon Slim” Homans has the kind of Blues backstory that would never translate to the silver screen because no one would believe it. As a singer, songwriter and guitarist, Slim’s history stretches back to the early ’70s, when he released Merry Airbrakes, the only full-length Vietnam protest album recorded by an actual Vietnam veteran.
It’s Slim’s life in total that is so jaw-droppingly amazing. His father was a renowned civil rights lawyer who moved his family to North Carolina, where Slim learned the Blues from their housekeeper.
In the nearly 30 years since Merry Airbrakes, Slim was a truck driver, forklift operator, sawmiller, firewood seller, collection agent and funeral officiator, while weaving a few small-time criminal gigs into his resume.
In addition, he was an Oklahoma watermelon farmer, acquiring his nickname in the process. He also earned two undergrad degrees and his master’s, settled down, started a family, painted and joined the super-high IQ organization Mensa.
Just over a decade ago, Slim suffered a near fatal heart attack, and his brush with mortality gave him the impetus to return to musical performance. Since then, Slim — on his own, in collaboration or with his band, The Workers — has released nine studio albums (including the just released, scorching hot Bull Goose Rooster).
WATERMELON SLIM headlines the main stage on Friday. Visit cincybluesfest.org for full info on this year’s Cincy Blues Fest.