Late Blossom Blues: Leo 'Bud' Welch

Apr 26, 2017

Wolfgang Almer's 'Late Blossom Blues' tells the late success story of Leo 'Bud' Welch
Credit Wolfgang Almer / Late Blossom Blues

Bluesman Leo ‘Bud’ Welch and his manager Vencie Varnado make an unlikely duo from a small Mississippi town.

“We grew up in the same area.  Leo is 31 years my senior.  The way we were brought up, you know everybody in the county.  We were from a town with a population of 2,000 people.  If you don’t know somebody, you know their people, you know their folks,” said Varnado.  “I’ve never until my 50th birthday party got a chance to hear him play and sing.  But I’d always heard people say great things about him.  Where we’re from, if more than three people say good things about you, that’s pretty much considered gospel.”

Varnado hired Leo ‘Bud’ Welch to perform at his 50th birthday party, secretly videotaping the performance.  Varnado sent it to the Mississippi based label Big Legal Mess Records.  He says it immediately secured Leo ‘Bud’ Welch a contract.

Sabougla Voices is Welch's 2014 debut studio album. He was 81 years old. Sabougla, Mississippi is where Welch was born and raised.

“I’m skilled in business but not necessarily in music business.  I’m not a musician so to me music is just something that makes you feel good and makes you move.  I spent 29 years in the army. This country has been great to me.  Presented opportunities to me that I would have never had on a farm where I grew up.  For me it’s my way of giving back, to help Leo live out his dream and present his music to the world the way he wants to do it.”

Leo ‘Bud’ Welch is now the subject of a new documentary directed and produced by a European filmmaker.

“Wolfgang Almer is a curator for a festival in Linz, Austria.  One particular year the theme was ‘Forever Young:  There is Time’.  He booked Leo to perform at that festival,” Varnado said.  “Out of the blue I contacted him and asked him how he was doing and he said, ‘what do you think about making a movie about this?’ I said I think it should be done.  That’s when we agreed to do the documentary about Leo ‘Bud’ Welch, Late Blossom Blues.”

Two studio albums, multiple tours of different countries, and a documentary later, Leo “Bud” Welch is nothing short of grateful for his unexpected late life success.

“The blues are greater than they’ve ever been.  To me they are, I don’t know about anybody else.  I believe I got my mojo working on the blues.  How good the lord has been to me by keeping me.  I could have been dead and gone but Lord he let me live on.”