PRINCETON, W.Va. -- Nat Reese, noted bluesman and longtime Vandalia Gathering performer, died Friday in Mercer County. He was 88.Reese, of Princeton, was known across the state for his blues guitar and had been a fixture at small venues and large festivals for decades.He announced in 2007, at the age of 83, that performing was taking a negative toll on his health and he would retire.However, Reese never stopped playing and went on to do several festivals the following years.
He performed most recently last year at the Vandalia Gathering, where he was one of the headliners.Reese's notable recordings included, "Just a Dream" and "West Virginia Blues by the West Virginia Blues Man."Reese was born in Salem, Va., in 1924. He grew up in the coalfields and became a miner for a while. He attended Bluefield State College for two years, but left to serve in the Army during World War II.He relocated to Princeton in 1961, where he paired frequently with celebrated blues string player and multi-instrumentalist Howard Armstrong.In 1988 he received the John Henry Award and the Vandalia Award in 1995. He was inducted into the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame in 2009.