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Blind Willie McTell may be "the most important Georgia bluesman to be recorded" in the first half of the 20th century, but so little information about him has survived that, for Gray, who's previously written about Bob Dylan and Frank Zappa, "getting the story is itself part of that story," making this less a biography of the blind musician than a memoir of the effort to uncover his past. At its best, the results are colorful anecdotes about Gray and his status as a British tourist in rural Georgia, where being neither a Yankee nor a white Southerner usually makes it easy for him to get along (save for one disturbing encounter with a state prison security detail). At other times, however, Gray pads his account with arguably superfluous details, including descriptions of the public libraries he visited during his research. He is quick to acknowledge where the facts leave off and his speculations begin, and unafraid to offer critical judgment, especially when it comes to evaluating the racist culture in which McTell lived. Those who were hoping for a definitive biography of McTell may be disappointed, but enough of his story pokes through for even nonblues fans to grasp his enduring appeal. (Sept.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.