Wes Mackey is as soulful as they come when he picks up his guitar.
And at age 71, this bluesman hasn't lost an ounce of his stride as he continues to tour the world.
He'll make a stop in the Tri-Cities on Jan. 25 for a performance at The Roxy in downtown Kennewick.
Blues is a feeling that weaves its way into musical stories, Mackey said in a video on his website.
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"They are stories of my life," he said.
And his life hasn't always been happy, he told the Herald in an email.
As a young man, he was married with four children when he left his family to pursue music. He admitted to feeling shame for abandoning his family. He tried to escape from his troubles by partying too much and grabbing gigs where he could, he said.
"The heavy partying was a way to escape," Mackey said. "Unfortunately, wisdom does come with age. If I had known the outcome of my life when I was younger, I could have spared myself and my family a lot of grief.
"I wrote a song called Prisoner, and one of the lines goes, I was a prisoner and the guard at the gate was me ... the day you forgave me that's when I set my soul free."
He wrote that song after he made amends with his now-grown kids and continues to have a good relationship with them.
Mackey comes from a family of musicians, growing up along the coast of South Carolina.
"I was pretty young when I ended up playing the guitar because it was a hand-me-down from my older brother," he said. "It only had three strings by then, but that's all I needed."
Mackey's latest album, Life is a Journey, maps out his life experiences from the early party days to when his kids reached out to him several years ago in a step toward forgiveness.
Mackey has toured the world several times during his long music career, becoming an honorary citizen of Provence, France, where he continues to draw a large fan base. He also was the first black blues artist to perform in Slovakia, he said.
"I am going back to the south of France this summer and will play at the L'am Du Blues festival in Lamanon," he said. "It will be great to get back there, but my French will be as bad as the last time I was there. I keep trying."
Tickets to his show at The Roxy cost $25 and available through ticketfly.com.
-- Dori O'Neal: 582-1514; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @dorioneal