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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 BigTwist andThe Mellow Fellows. Show all posts
Showing posts with label BigTwist andThe Mellow Fellows. Show all posts

Saturday, September 22, 2012

300 LBs. of Heavenly Joy - BigTwist &The Mellow Fellows

Larry "Big Twist" Nolan heartily epitomized the image "300 pounds of heavenly joy." Based in Chicago, the huge singer and his trusty R&B band, the Mellow Fellows, were one of the hottest draws on the Midwestern college circuit during the 1980s with a slickly polished sound modeled on the soul-slanted approach of Bobby Bland, Little Milton, and Tyrone Davis. Twist started out singing and playing drums in rough-and-tumble country bars in downstate Illinois during the late '50s and early '60s (chicken wire-enclosed stages were a necessity on this raucous scene). Young saxist Terry Ogolini jammed often with the big man at a joint called Junior's in a Prairie State burg called Colp. Ogolini and guitarist Pete Special spearheaded the nucleus of the first edition of the Mellow Fellows in the college town of Carbondale during the early '70s, with Twist doubling on drums. After taking southern Illinois by storm, the unit relocated en masse to Chicago in 1978. Live from Chicago! Bigger Than Life! Their eponymous 1980 debut album for Flying Fish accurately captured the group's slick sound, while the 1982 follow-up, One Track Mind, attempted to be somewhat more contemporary without losing the band's blues/R&B base. A move to Alligator in 1983 elicited an album co-produced by Gene "Daddy G" Barge, whose sax solos previously enlivened R&B classics by Chuck Willis, Gary (U.S.) Bonds, Little Milton, and countless more. The group's final album with Twist up front was the Live From Chicago! Bigger Than Life!! Street Party Numerous personnel changes over the years failed to scuttle the band, and neither did the death of Twist in 1990 from diabetes and kidney failure. Martin Allbritton, an old singing buddy of Twist's from downstate who had previously gigged around Chicago as frontman for Larry & the Ladykillers, had already been deputizing for the ailing Twist, so it fell to Allbritton to assume the role full-time. Barge shared the singing duties at selected gigs and on the band's 1990 album Street Party. Special left the organization not long after that, taking the name Mellow Fellows with him when he hit the door. That's when the remaining members adopted the handle of the Chicago Rhythm & Blues Kings. With Ogolini and longtime trumpeter Don Tenuto comprising a red-hot horn section, they're still a popular, dance-friendly fixture around the Chicago scene. If you like what I’m doing, Like ---Bman’s Blues Report--- Facebook Page! I’m looking for great talent and trying to grow the audience for your favorites band! - ”LIKE”

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

300 Pounds of Heavenly Joy - BigTwist andThe Mellow Fellows


Larry "Big Twist" Nolan was the titular leader of the horn-dominated band, Big Twist and the Mellow Fellows. He got his name from his 6' 4" stature, his weight (often in excess of 300 pounds), and his booming voice. Prior to joining the band in 1970, Twist was living in Carbondale, Illinois and playing drums for a country band. Born in Terre Haute, Indiana in 1937, Twist was a journeyman musician who performed everything from blues to pop in Midwest bar bands. As their stature increased, Big Twist & The Mellow Fellows moved from small, private fraternity parties to concert stages and blues clubs throughout the country.

Throughout the 1970s, Big Twist and the Mellow Fellows built their repertoire on a blend of soul, R&B, blues and rock. They performed at college fraternity parties, beer halls, and clubs throughout the Midwest. In 1978 the band relocated to Chicago and a year later they recorded their self-titled debut album for the Flying Fish label. Their brand of brassy R&B party music made them favorites among young and old alike.
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