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I started a quest to find terrific blues music and incredible musicianship when I was just a little kid. I also have a tremendous appreciation of fine musical instruments and equipment. One of my greatest joys all of my life was sharing my finds with my friends. I'm now publishing my journey. I hope that you come along!

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Showing posts with label Big Jack Johnson. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Big Jack Johnson. Show all posts

Monday, July 30, 2012

Daddy When Is Mama Coming Home - Big Jack Johnson

Big Jack Johnson, born July 30, 1940 in Lambert MS is one of the most popular and influential of the contemporary Delta Blues musicians active today. He is affectionately known as the "Oil Man", a nickname he earned during his early years working for Shell Oil as a truck driver. He was first influenced by his father to take up the guitar and quickly mastered the finer points of the blues by sitting in with his father's band around the area in his early teens. As a young blues musician, he came under the sway of the eloquent electric single string work of BB and Albert King.

Influenced not only by the blues music all around him, but also by the sounds of the white Country artists emanating out of the Grand Ole Opry, Big Jack's music is that of the Mississippi juke joint. He peppers his blues with not only the traditional blues of his fellow Mississippi and Chicago forbearers but also brings elements of funk and soul that keeps the dance floors packed.

His music bears the mark of an artist that has lived his art form: his guitar style is uniquely his own, full of aggressive rhythmic twists and innovative lines that jump out at the listener: It is a tough style that is also both melodic and lyrical and is equal parts delta grit and West Side Chicago finesse crossed with pure Mississippi gumption. His penchant for reworking vocal songs into instrumental launching points for his single string flights similar to the great novelty guitar instrumentals a la Freddy King was what initially captured this fan. His vocals ring with a warm Mississippi tone and accent and he sings with the emotional directness that is the perfect counterpoint to his guitar work. His vocals look back to the roots of the blues and when he howls or growls in the vein of his hero Howlin' Wolf you know you are in the presence of the real deal, perhaps the last of the great delta bluesmen.

Jack's guitar playing has long been acknowledged as some of the most exciting and beautiful pure blues playing today. Most however, may be surprised to learn of Jack's command of the bass (a little known fact is that outside of the Jelly Roll Kings, Jack also played bass behind Country music star Conway Twitty during the 70's for a spell, a time that also included Sam Carr on drums on occasion), and that he also plays beautiful blues mandolin.

Blues mandolin is an art form that is sadly absent from today's scene, having never truly caught on much beyond the electric post war blues boom even in Chicago where the likes of Johnny Young recorded frequently on mandolin, but gained little attention. Perhaps because in the fashionable age of electric guitars the mandolin remained too rooted in the simple country traditions of the South and was out of fashion next to the slick productions of the urban bluesmen. Regardless, the mandolin played a largely overlooked but important role nonetheless in the development of the blues in Mississippi and beyond since the 1930's and Jack's playing is in that great tradition of Yank Rachell and Johnny Young. His love for the mandolin is certainly no surprise when you note Jack's affinity for Country music and further consider that string band music enjoyed regional popularity throughout the South and in Mississippi in particular during the acoustic pre-war blues era.

As a composer, Jack writes highly individual songs, often with an eye toward the social conscience. Jack's music meets life head on and he sings about the real qualities and events of the life he's lived and what he sees around him. His moral story-telling has a decidedly unique approach when composing songs with such modern topics as drug abuse, AIDS, etc., free from the trappings of the often mined and overly familiar traditional blues themes.
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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Big Jack Johnson's Music on NBC's Prime Suspect

 Big Jack Johnson's Music on NBC's Prime Suspect
Catch It Tonight
Contact: Mark Carpentieri
Ph: 631-754-8725
M.C. Records is proud to announce that Big Jack Johnson's song "You're Gonna Make Me Cry" will be heard on NBC's Prime Suspect tonight. Big Jack's music has been heard on ABC, HBO and in  "Reservation Road" to name a few.  Big Jack passed away earlier this year but it's great his music is still going strong! You can listen to some of his best songs:

Eric Lindell's latest, West County Drifter has had a great year with fantastic reviews and radio play! You can add another notch as Eric has been nominated by Offbeat Magazine in the Best of the Beat Awards. Eric has been nominated for Best Blues Artist and Best Blues Album for West County Drifter. You can check out more and vote right here:
In other news Eric is playing the 2012 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. More details coming soon!

Lindell's most accessible and striking release yet, with nary a slack track and several that seriously deserve to be heard by a wide audience
All Music Guide

the entire set is a good listen - The Charleston Gazette

 Full of nuance and rich with emotion, his oeuvre is, in a word (or three...), the real deal - Blurt On-line

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Monday, May 30, 2011

Catfish Blues - Big Jack Johnson

Johnson was born in Lambert, Mississippi. His father was a local musician playing both blues and country ditties at local functions. At the age of 13, Johnson junior was playing guitar with his father's band. By 18, Johnson followed B.B. King's electrified lead. His break came when he sat in with Frank Frost and Sam Carr at the Savoy Theatre in Clarksdale, Mississippi. The trio were seldom apart for the next 15 years, recording for Phillips International and Jewel Records with Frost as the bandleader.

In 1979, Rockin' the Juke Joint Down, was released (as by the Jelly Roll Kings) and marked Johnson's first recordings as a singer. Johnson's subsequent 1987 album for Earwig Music, The Oil Man, included his recording of "Catfish Blues." He has recorded both solo and as a member of the blues groups the Jelly Roll Kings and Big Jack Johnson and the Oilers (with poet/musician Dick Lourie).

He performed and wrote "Jack's Blues" and performed "Catfish Medley" with Samuel L. Jackson on the Black Snake Moan, film soundtrack. Daddy, When Is Mama Comin Home?, his ambitious 1990 set for Earwig, found him tackling issues as varied as AIDS, wife abuse, and Chinese blues musicians.

Johnson died from an undisclosed illness on March 14, 2011. According to family members, he had struggled with health issues in his final years, worsening to the point that there were erroneous reports of his death several times in the weeks prior to his death.
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