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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 Missippi. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Missippi. Show all posts

Monday, January 9, 2012

Bloodshot Records is extremely pleased to announce the signing of Mississippi-bred, Tennessee-based songwriter Cory Branan.

We’ve had our eye on Cory for just about as long as he’s been honing his air-tight, clever version of the perfect storysong. For those who don’t know him, though, Branan is the owner of two well-crafted, kinetically charged albums - 2002’s The Hell You Say and 2006’s 12 Songs – on Madjack Records. From the two releases came standouts (“The Prettiest Waitress in Memphis,” “A Girl Named Go,” “Tall Green Grass,” and many others) that we’ve listened to in embarrassing amounts, and then probably annoyed our friends with to boot. He has garnered praise from Rolling Stone, GQ, Billboard, and performed on Late Night with David Letterman (look at that baby face, here).

Cory has a well-documented history with groups like former label mates Lucero, musicians of his ilk who trend toward the rawer end of roots music (The Loved Ones’ Dave Hause, Chuck Ragan, Two Cow Garage, Drag the River’s Jon Snodgrass), and rock stars like Chris Carrabba (Dashboard Confessional), who has covered Cory’s gorgeous “Tall Green Grass” and been a reoccurring tour mate.

And that touring element was just the icing on the cake for us. Never one to shy away from an itinerary of non-stop cross-country shows, Cory possesses a unique performance style that enables him to gravelly sing a coy double entendre in one ear of the audience, while yelling the most beautiful love song into the other. So after falling in love (!!!) with a demo of his new material, we jumped at the chance to add him to the fold. We’re excited to say that his label debut is on its way in Spring 2012 under the title Mutt.

Upcoming shows:

-Every Monday in January, residency at The Basement in Nashville (w/ special guests)

-February 3 – Little Rock, AR – White Water Tavern Anniversary show (w/ Ben Nichols of Lucero)

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Down Home Blues - Mr. Johnnie Billington

Johnnie Billington was born in 1935 in Crowder, Mississippi, a small community on the Quitman/Panola county line. His father was a sharecropper and he grew up working on the farm. He first became interested in music through listening to the legendary blues show, King Biscuit Time, which was broadcast from nearby Helena, Arkansas. Billington's father bought him a guitar when he was ten years old and he began teaching himself the instrument by playing along with the King Biscuit performers. By the age of thirteen he was playing in clubs throughout the Delta with a Clarksdale-based group.

In the early 1950s the other members of the band migrated to cities in the north. Billington left in 1954, first moving to Arizona, then settling in Chicago in 1959. There he reunited with his Mississippi bandmates and they began playing local clubs. Sometimes they were able to jam with some of the legendary Chicago bluesmen (and fellow Mississippi natives) such as Muddy Waters, Elmore James, and Earl Hooker. During the day Billington worked at several different automotive plants and eventually opened his own automotive repair shop, Johnnie's Sunoco, in Robbins, Illinois.

Billington returned to Mississippi in 1977 to be close to his aging mother and the rest of his family. He settled in Clarksdale and continued automotive repair work in the day. However, seeing that many of the children in the neighborhood had few opportunities, he began opening his repair shop at night and using it as a rehearsal space to teach them how to play blues music. He was able to expand his teaching efforts through grants from the Mississippi Arts Commission and in the early 1990s established the Delta Blues Education Fund, a non-profit organization that offers a free year-long blues music instruction program to Delta youth.

In his DBEF program, Billington works with the students as a group, forming them into bands and teaching them the blues repertoire and how to play together. In addition to the musical instruction, he stresses the importance of professionalism by requiring his students to be prompt, maintain good conduct during rehearsals, and have a neat appearance. He also provides them with information about the history of blues in the Mississippi Delta. Billington works with many children not involved in the DBEF program through residency programs held at schools and community centers. While most of his residencies take place within Mississippi, he has conducted them in Florida and at Harvard University.

Billington also provides his students opportunities to perform in public. He uses several of his more advanced students as his back-up musicians in the group he leads, J.B. and the Midnighters. The group performs in a variety of venues throughout the region, including blues and community festivals, schools, and community centers. Many of his former students have gone on to work as leaders and sidemen in professional blues groups that play throughout the Delta and internationally.

Johnnie Billington has received several honors for his work in educating Delta youth, including The Blues Foundation's "Keeping the Blues Alive" Education Award, the Sunflower River Blues Association's Early Wright Award (for preservation of the blues), the Mississippi Arts Commission's Folk Arts Fellowship, and the Artist Achievement Award from the Governor's Awards for Excellence in the Arts. Billington has also served as a master artist in the Arts Commission's Folk Arts Apprenticeship Program and was featured in River of Song, the 1999 PBS television series focusing on music along the Mississippi River.

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Thursday, December 8, 2011

Dust My Broom - Duwayne Burnside

Duwayne Burnside was born in the late sixties in Senatobia, Mississippi and grew up hearing his father, R.L. Burnside, and family, as well as neighbors play music; guitar driven Mississippi hill country blues. Along with his family and neighbors, the radio was another influence on Duwayne's evolving style. He picked up the guitar before he was old enough to hold it himself.

Growing up, he played guitar behind his father, but more so backing local club owner Junior Kimbrough and the Soul Blues Boys. And with Memphis, Tennessee being as close as it was, Duwayne began playing and sitting in with seasoned and well known musicians that frequented town, such as Little Jimmy King, Albert King, B.B. King, Bobby Blue Band, and others.
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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

As the Years Go Passing By - Jimmy Johnson Blues Band

Jimmy Johnson (born James Earl Thompson, November 25, 1928, Holly Springs, Mississippi) is an American blues guitarist and singer.
Several of Johnson's brothers had careers in music; among them are soul musician Syl Johnson and Magic Sam bassist Mack Thompson. In his younger years he played piano and sang in gospel groups. He and his family moved to Chicago in 1950, where he worked as a welder and played guitar in his spare time. He began playing professionally with Slim Willis in 1959, changing his last name to Johnson like his brother Syl. As a guitarist he was influenced by both Buddy Guy and Otis Rush and he played with Freddy King, Albert King, Magic Sam and Eddy Clearwater among others.

In the 1960s he played more R&B music, working with Otis Clay, Denise LaSalle, and Garland Green. He also had his own group from the early sixties, and by the late sixties he had released his first single. By 1974 he had returned to blues playing, working with Jimmy Dawkins and touring Japan with Otis Rush in 1975.

His first solo material appeared on Alligator Records and Delmark Records in 1978-79, when he was fifty years old. He was an award-winner at the first W.C. Handy Blues Music Awards held in Memphis November 16. 1980. His career continued to pick up until December 2, 1988, when his touring van crashed in Indiana, killing his keyboardist St. James Bryant and bassist Larry Exum. Johnson was injured and took an extended hiatus from the music industry, but returned to record for Verve Records in 1994. In 2002 he recorded with his brother, Syl. He remained active and among other things toured Europe in 2009, playing both England as well as Copenhagen Blues festival in Denmark.

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Monday, August 15, 2011

AT BLUES -Doc Terry, Hubert Sumlin, Sunnyland Slim,

Hubert Sumlin (born November 16, 1931) is an American blues guitarist and singer, best known for his celebrated work, from 1955, as guitarist in Howlin' Wolf's band. His singular playing is characterized by "wrenched, shattering bursts of notes, sudden cliff-hanger silences and daring rhythmic suspensions". Listed as number sixty-five in the Rolling Stone 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time, Sumlin continues to tour and play blues guitar. He is cited as a major influence by many artists, including Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, Robbie Robertson, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jimmy Page and Jimi Hendrix.

Albert "Sunnyland Slim" Luandrew (September 5, 1907 – March 17, 1995) was an American blues pianist, who was born in the Mississippi Delta and later moved to Chicago, to contribute to that city's post-war scene as a center for blues music. Chicago's broadcaster and writer, Studs Terkel, said Sunnyland Slim was "a living piece of our folk history, gallantly and eloquently carrying on in the old tradition
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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Don't Start Me Talkin' - Dr. "Feelgood" Potts

Robert Potts was born into a large family in Greenwood, MS. In 1967, he moved to Memphis to start his career in music. His first stop was an audition at Stax Recording and Hi Records. . In, 1970 he penned and recorded his first 45 single entitled, "Funky Postman" and "Under Your Spell." These releases lead to him appearing on local television, The Talent Party and Swing Shift. In the 1980's he landed a recording contract with 8th Street Records. Several singles were released including "Lost In The County Jail", "Seven Years Blues", and several cover tunes. The recordings were jukebox favorites. He also is a successful songwriter penning the tune "Don't Make Me Late," by Johnnie Taylor, which he co-wrote with George Jackson.

In 1995 Dr. "Feelgood" started his own Record label, RLP Records. He released a single in 1996 and a full length CD in 1997. The CD, entitled "Love Starved," consisted of ten songs, {a combination of blues, soul, and a harmonica instrumental.} In January of 2000,he released a second RLP CD entitled "Blues Me 4 U LOSE ME." But his real break came when he signed with Ecko Records where he has released two discs. His biggest hit so far has been "Make It Talk". Potts is the father of singer Sheba Potts-Wright. In 2007 he dropped his first, bona fide blues album "Going Back To Memphis".

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Walls Were Paper Thin - Denise LaSalle

Denise LaSalle (born 16 July 1939, Belzoni, Mississippi) is an American urban, R&B/soul singer, songwriter, and record producer.
Most sources give her name at birth as Denise Craig, although it has also been stated that she was born Denise Allen, and that the name Craig derives from an early marriage. Raised in Belzoni, Mississippi, she sang in local churches before moving to Chicago in the early 1960s. She sat in with R&B musicians and wrote songs, influenced by country music as well as the blues, before winning a recording contract with Chess Records in 1967. Her first single, "A Love Reputation" was a modest regional hit.

After establishing an independent production company, Crajon, with her then husband Bill Jones, her first major success came in 1971 when her self-penned song, "Trapped By A Thing Called Love", released on Westbound Records, made #1 on the national R&B chart and #13 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The song ranked at #85 on the 1971 year end chart. The RIAA gold disc award was made on 30 November 1971 for a million sales. Follow-ups "Now Run And Tell That" and "Man Sized Job" also made the R&B Top Ten, and she continued to have hits on Westbound and then on ABC Records through the mid 1970s. She also carried on as a record producer and live performer. Her co-penned song "Married, But Not to Each Other" was included in the 1979, The Best of Barbara Mandrell, compilation album.

In 1980 she signed as a singer and songwriter with Malaco Records, for whom she released a string of critically acclaimed albums through the 1980s and 1990s, starting with Lady in the Street (1986) and Right Place, Right Time (1984). Both albums became major successes among soul blues, R&B and soul fans and on urban radio stations. In 1985 she enjoyed her only recognition in the UK Singles Chart, when her cover version of Rockin' Sidney's, "My Toot Toot", reached #6.

LaSalle appeared at the 1984 and 1993 versions of the Long Beach Blues Festival, and also in 1993 she performed at the San Francisco Blues Festival. Her 1997 album Smokin' In Bed was an unexpected commercial success.

She continues to work as a live performer, particularly at festivals, and more recently has issued more gospel-tinged material. 2011 she was inducted to the Blues Hall of Fame.

LaSalle now resides in Jackson, Tennessee with her husband, James E. Wolfe, where they participate in the community.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Too Many Drivers - Dexter Allen

Dexter Allen born in Crystal Springs Mississippi, started out playing guitar at the church where his father was pastor. Traveling and performing with Bobby Rush to France, Japan, Germany, Spain, China, Finland, Iraq, Kuwait, Sweden and all over the United States, was the vehicle that headed Dexter down the road of Blues. After the Rush experience, Dexter decided to form his own band and began playing clubs and venues all over the southeast and southwest. This has proven to be successful in spreading his unique style of guitar playing, and vocal ability. His unique style landed the 2008 Jackson Music Award for Male Vocalist. His current album titled Bluezin My Way,tells stories of Love, Lust, Lies, and Allibites, which landed him the Jackson Music awards 2009 Entertainer of the Year. For Christmas of 2009 Dexter also released “Hello Ms Santa Claus” which D.J.’s predict to be a holiday standard. Dexter also lends his time and talents for blues workshops in area schools. His music and entertaining stage performance is sure to leave you enlightened, delighted, and excited that you had the opportunity to see and hear one of the best 21st century blues performers from Mississippi.

Monday, June 13, 2011

I Feel So Good - Dr. Isaiah Ross

Doctor Ross (October 21, 1925 – May 28, 1993), aka Doctor Ross, the harmonica boss, was an American blues singer, guitarist, harmonica player and drummer — a one-man band — who was born Charles Isaiah Ross, in Tunica, Mississippi.

Ross played various forms of the blues that have seen him compared to John Lee Hooker and Sonny Boy Williamson I, and is perhaps best known for the recordings he made for Sun Records in the 1950s, notably "The Boogie Disease" and "Chicago Breakdown".

In 1951 Ross began to be heard on Mississippi and Arkansas radio stations, now nicknamed Doctor because of his habit of carrying his harmonicas in a black bag that resembled a doctor's bag. Over the next three years he recorded in Memphis, Tennessee for both Chess and Sun, creating exhilarating harmonica or guitar boogies made distinctive by his sidemen playing washboard (with a spoon and fork) and broom.

In 1954 Ross took a job with General Motors in Flint, Michigan, and reduced his playing. He released a string of 45s on the Detroit-based Fortune Records. Some singles, among them his first true one-man band effort, "Industrial Boogie", filtered into blues circles, leading to a Testament Records album and a 1965 American Folk Blues Festival booking in Europe.

While in London he recorded what would be the first LP on Blue Horizon Records. In 1972 he recorded for Ornament Records during a German tour. Europe loved Ross and gave him work and recording opportunities; he was never as popular at home, and in the 1980s his performing profile was barely visible.

Ross won a Grammy for his 1981 LP Rare Blues, and subsequently enjoyed a resurgence of popularity and critical acclaim towards the end of his career.

He died in 1993, at the age of 67, and was buried in Flint, Michigan.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Everybody Loves a Winner

When Eric first left the Yardbirds he had a short stint with John Mayall and then into Delaney and Bonnie.

Delaney Bramlett's musical history spans three decades making it difficult to pinpoint in such a short space his contributions to the world of music. Known as a great songwriter, singer and musician, he has also been a mentor to some of the very best: Eric Clapton, George Harrison, J.J. Cale and Bobby Whitlock to name just a few.

From modest beginnings in Pontotoc, Mississippi, Delaney worked his way to the top, but not before a few side adventures. Life in his hometown wasn't for the budding music man and the only way to survive was to pick cotton or join the Armed Services. Delaney joined the Navy for three years and said goodbye to Mississippi. After his release from the Navy with Mississippi in his heart and his feet in Los Angeles he moved his family to be with him, where he has remained ever since.

Cliffie Stone recalls a young kid hanging around the studio watching everything. Delaney had already done demos for another Mississippian, Elvis Presley and played a cardboard box as a drum on a George Jones record. Living in Los Angeles now, he became a regular on the TV show Shindig as a Shindog, the house band. He was already busy writing with the likes of Joey Cooper, Mac Davis and Jackie DeShannon. Over the years, some of his songs have reached "standard" status such as "Superstar", "Never Ending Song of Love" and "Let It Rain, among others.

After Eric Clapton joined Delaney on tour he produced and co-wrote songs for Clapton's first solo LP. Due to contractual obligations he relinquished the writer credit to his then wife, Bonnie Bramlett enabling him to keep them in the family. Clapton still credits Delaney for pushing him to sing and teaching him the art.

George Harrison had his first slide bottle placed in his hand by Delaney who quickly taught George how to play slide and write a Gospel song. Out of that lesson came "My Sweet Lord".

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Earl's Boogie

Earl Hooker (January 15, 1929 – April 21, 1970) was a Chicago blues guitarist. Hooker rarely sang and in a genre where the stars were vocalists or vocalists/instrumentalists, his commercial success was limited. However, he "was undeniably a virtuoso among guitar players" and has been acknowledged by many of his peers. As B.B. King commented: "to me he is the best of modern guitarists. Period. With the slide he was the best. It was nobody else like him, he was just one of a kind".

In case you're wondering...yeah...JL Hookers cousin.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Earl's Boogie

Unlike his contemporaries Elmore James and Muddy Waters, Earl Hooker used standard tuning on his guitar for slide playing. He also used a short steel slide. This allowed him to switch between slide and fretted playing during a song with greater ease. Part of his slide sound has been attributed to his light touch, a technique he learned from Robert Nighthawk. "Instead of using full-chord glissando effects, he preferred the more subtle single-note runs inherited from others who played slide in standard tuning, [such as] Tampa Red, Houston Stackhouse, and his mentor Robert Nighthawk." In addition to his mastery of slide guitar, Hooker was also a highly developed standard-guitar soloist and rhythm player. At a time when many blues guitarists were emulating B.B. King, Hooker maintained his own course. Although he was a bluesman at heart, Hooker was adept at several musical styles, which he incorporated into his playing as it suited him. Depending on his mood and audience reaction, a Hooker performance could include blues, boogie-woogie, R&B/soul, be-bop, pop, and even a country & western favorite.

Earl Hooker was a flamboyant showman in the style of T-Bone Walker and predated Guitar Slim and Johnny "Guitar" Watson. He wore flashy clothes and would pick the guitar with his teeth or his feet or play it behind his neck or between his legs. He also played a double neck guitar, at first a six-string guitar and four-string bass combination and later a twelve- and six-string guitar combination. After his 1967 tuberculosis attack left him in a weakened state, he sometimes played while seated and using a lighter single-neck guitar.

In a genre that typically shunned gadgetry, Earl Hooker was an exception. He experimented with amplification and used echo and tape delay, including "double-tracking his playing during a song, [so] he could pick simultaneously two solos in harmony". In 1968, he began using a wah-wah pedal to add a vocal-like quality to some of his solos.

Although Hooker did not receive the public recognition to the same extent as some of his contemporaries, he was highly regarded by his fellow musicians. Many consider Earl Hooker to be the best modern blues guitarist of his time, including:[29] Wayne Bennett, Bobby "Blue" Bland, Albert Collins, Willie Dixon, Ronnie Earl, Tinsley Ellis, Guitar Shorty, Buddy Guy, Albert King, B.B. King, Little Milton, Louis Myers, Lucky Peterson, Otis Rush, Joe Louis Walker, and Junior Wells.