Huck-a-buck bluesman James ‘Super Chikan’ Johnson, ‘A Life In Blues’

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“A Life In Blues” is the life story of James “Super Chikan” Johnson, a cross between a hillbilly bluesman and what this writer calls a huck-a-buck bluesman.

Producers Mark Rankin and Bryan Wilson set out to chronicle the everyday workings of a unique bluesman known to everyone as “Super Chikan.” This bluesman created his own style of blues – it is his and his alone. No other bluesman on the planet presents himself the way that “Super Chikan” does…a little bit of traditional blues but with a great big twist that combines country finger pickin’, crowing, and a whole lot of barnyard humor with an occasional yodel thrown into a song that lets you know that the “Super Chikan” has arrived. 

Being a musician himself, Mark Rankin says, “I did a lot of shows with ‘Super Chikan’ that left me intrigued with the unforgettable stage presence of the most unique bluesman I had ever seen.  There’s no one like this guy; he draws his audience into his life story with every song he sings, telling them about his everyday life where he entangles little snippets of his hillbilly culture that is heavily influenced by the comedic stylings of an old vaudeville actor. After following ‘Super Chikan’ on varies stages I decided to go to Clarksdale and Oxford, Mississippi, to get a better feel for the most distinctive personality that I had ever encountered. I knew there had to be a great backstory behind this guy’s persona and his life story would make for a great film if it could be presented with the authenticity that ‘Super Chikan’ portrays on stage. I knew that his blues style was different and perhaps somewhat misunderstood because he does not fit into the traditional blues genre.”

To capture the essence of the music and life of “Super Chikan”, Rankin and Wilson interviewed other bluesmen, including two Grammy Award winning bluesmen, Cedric Burnside and Bobby Rush, to get their take on “Super Chikan.” Both Burnside and Rush agreed  “A Life In Blues” would provide an insight into “Super Chikan”. If his persona and musical style could be captured on film, it would be a great benefit and addition to generational humanities. 

The documentary film “A Life In Blues” will be presented and a special performance by “Super Chikan” & The Fighting Cocks will travel to dedicated venues (with a $10 donation) in Mississippi with stops that include Club Ebony (Indianola 6-13-24), Oxford (Burns Belfry Museum 6-14-24), The Max (Meridian 6-18-24), Vicksburg (The Strand 6-19-24), Ground Zero (Clarksdale 6-20-24), and the Two Museums Mississippi Department of Archives and History  (Jackson 6-16-24).  All film showings are free and open to the public with $10 donations accepted. 

A special performance only by “Super Chikan” will be held at Hal & Mal’s in Jackson on Blue Monday (6-17-24) with a $5 donation. The show can be heard live in Mississippi on Mississippi Public Broadcasting (MPB) station (91.3 FM in Jackson from 10-11 a.m. Friday, June 14, 2024) and can be heard worldwide live or via archived podcast at

“A Life In Blues” is a Ten-To-A-Room production. The film is also sponsored by the Central Mississippi Blues Society and Southern Arts.

This program is financially assisted by the National Endowment for the Humanities through the Mississippi Humanities Council. 

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Huck-a-buck bluesman James ‘Super Chikan’ Johnson, ‘A Life In Blues’

By Brinda Fuller Willis
June 17, 2024