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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 Roosevelt Sykes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Roosevelt Sykes. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Third Man Records: Ann Arbor Blues Festival 1969 - Various Artists - New Release Review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent 2 cd release, Ann Arbor Blues Festival 1969 from Third Man Records and it's terrific! Opening with Dirty Mother For You, a classic by Roosevelt Sykes, this classic track really gets the ball rolling with his suggestive language and his classic piano style. JB Hutto and his Hawk do a terrific Too Much Alcohol with Hutto's dynamic slide work. An excellent contribution by Jimmy Dawkins, I Wonder Why shows exactly why his nickname was Fast Fingers. Luther Allison and the Blue Nebulae play a super log take on Everybody Must Suffer/Stone Crazy and really gives his guitar a workout... makes you sweat just listening to it. Excellent! Another really fat guitar laden track is Otis Rush and So Many Roads. This is an excellent closer for disc one.

Disc 2 opens with Muddy Waters and Long Distance Call. Muddy's vocals are super and he has that crying slide work, backed by Paul Oscher on harp. Very nice. Charlie Musselwhite really brings the tempo up with Movin and Groovin, a super harp boogie. Of particular interest is Shirley Griffith's delta style rendition of Jelly Jelly Blues accompanying himself on acoustic guitar. Very strong. T-Bone Walker performs his classic, Stormy Monday and a nice long 10 minute plus guitar duet with Luthur Allison. Must be heard. Big Mama Thornton performs her classic, Ball and Chain, supported by T-Bone Walker. I mean, what else could you ask for...really? Sam Lay performs Key To The Highway with Luther Tucker another stellar track with excellent piano by possibly Skip Rose. When you think this is winding down you get the triple whammy. Lightnin' Hopkins on Mojo Hand with Luther Tucker, James Cotton blowing the walls down on Off The Wall with Luther Tucker and Bill Nugent on sax and Lastly... Son House... Son House...  on Death Letter Blues. I was born far too early. This concert is totally off the hook. Thankfully it is released by Third Man. Excellent!

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Monday, April 15, 2019

Omnivore Recordings artist: Henry Townsend and Roosevelt Sykes - Blues Piano and Guitar - New release review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Blues Piano and Guitar, live 1973 recordings of Henry Townsend and Roosevelt Sykes and it's really strong. Recorded live at Washington University, Graham Chapel, this is a great set. Opening with Townsend on Sloppy Drunk Again, the feel of a different era is alive and Townsend's percussive attack is a great accent for his perfect vocals. Tired Of Being Mistreated has great pace and Elmore style guitar riffs giving this track sensational life. Henry's Worry Blues is an excellent example of early blues with tight guitar riffs and excellent vocals. Roosevelt Sykes enters the stage with Night Time Is The Right Time and his distinctive piano style brings it all together. Piano boogie, Boot That Thing is one of my favorites on the first disc with excellent vocal and a great piano stretch. Dirty Mother For You (Don't You Know) is a humorous track by Sykes with solid piano work and vocal by Sykes. Contemporary blues listeners will recognize it as a standard in Buddy Guy's repertoire. Done Got Tired is an excellent Sykes/Townsend duet with Townsend on vocal and solid balanced soloing by both artists. I really love Sykes' dynamic piano work on Life Is A Puzzle. It's clean, bright and nicely accented. Another terrific piano boogie is Gulf Port Boogie. Sykes shows without a doubt why his style is popular. Henry's Guitar Boogie answers back with his own hot riffs getting the audience wound up. Vernell joins Henry on Tears Coming Rollin' Down, one of my certain favorites on disc two. Wrapping the release is Dangerous Man with Sykes on vocal and piano, This is a super conclusion for this 30 track set. Very nice. 

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Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Districts EP, Temples "Sun Structures", Leo Welch on NPR and More

The Districts EP

The Districts self-titled EP will be available on January 28th. Pre-order it below.


Tour Dates:
Jan 14 - The Bluebird - Bloomington, IN
Jan 15 - Zanzabar - Louisville, KY
Jan 16 - Mercy Lounge - Nashville, TN
Jan 30 - Baby's All Right - Brooklyn, NY
Jan 31 - Electric Factory - Philadelphia, PA
Feb 19 - One Eyed Jacks - New Orleans, LA
Feb 20 - The Bottletree - Birmingham, AL
Feb 21 - The Grey Eagle - Ashevillle, NC
Feb 22 - Black Cat - Washington, DC
Feb 25 - The Sinclair - Cambridge, MA
Feb 26 - The Sinclair - Cambridge, MA
Feb 27 - Union Transfer - Philadelphia, PA
Feb 28 - Webster Hall - New York, NY
Mar 1 - Higher Ground Showcase Lounge - South Burlington, VT
Mar 3 - Horseshoe Tavern - Toronto, Canada
Mar 6 - Metro - Chicago, IL
Mar 7 - Firebird - St. Louis, MO
Mar 8 - Mercy Lounge - Nashville, TN


Temples "Sun Structures"

Temples debut album "Sun Structures" will be available on February 11th. Pre-order it below, and be on the look out for upcoming North American tour dates.




Leo Welch Featured on NPR Weekend Edition

Leo Welch's debut album "Sabougla Voices" is available now on Big Legal Mess.



Water Liars Tour Dates

Feb 14 - Proud Larry's - Oxford, MS
Feb 15 - Martin's - Jackson, MS
Feb 18 - Vinyl - Atlanta, GA
Feb 19 - Normaltown Hall - Athens, GA
Feb 20 - The Royal American - Charleston, SC
Feb 21 - King's Barcade - Raleigh, NC
Feb 22 - The Mothlight - Asheville, NC
Feb 24 - DC9 - Washington, DC
Feb 25 - Milkboy - Philadelphia, PA
Feb 27 - Cafe Nine - New Haven, CT
Feb 28 - Book and Bar - Portsmouth, NH
Mar 2  - Club Cafe - Pittsburgh, PA
Mar 3 - Beachland Tavern - Cleveland, OH
Mar 5 - The Brass Rail - Ft. Wayne, IN
Mar 6 - Schubas Tavern - Chicago, IL
Mar 7 - Do317 Lounge - Indianapolis, IN
Mar 8 - Off Broadway - St. Louis, MO
Mar 10 - The Basement - Nashville, TN

Water Liars' Self-Titled album will be available on February 4th through Big Legal Mess. Pre-order it below.



Solids Tour Dates

Feb 20 - The Silver Dollar - Toronto, Canada
Feb 21 - Call The Office - London, Canada
Feb 22 - PJ's Lager House - Detroit, MI
Feb 23 - Schubas Tavern - Chicago, IL
Feb 25 - Union Sound Hall - Winnipeg, Canada
Feb 26 - O'Hanions Pub - Regina, Canada
Feb 27 - Vangelis Tavern - Saskatoon, Canada
Feb 28 - New Wunderbar Hofbrauhaus - Edmonton, Canada
Mar 1 - The Palomino - Calgary, Canada
Mar 3 - The Media Club - Vancouver, Canada
Mar 4 - Waid's - Seattle, WA
Mar 5 - Holocene - Portland, OR
Mar 7 - The Milk Bar - San Francisco, CA
Mar 8 - The Chapel - Los Angeles, CA
Mar 9 - The Void - San Diego, CA
Mar 10 - The Western - Scottsdale, AZ
Mar 12 - SXSW Festival - Austin, TX
Mar 13 - SXSW Festival - Austin, TX
Mar 14 - SXSW Festival - Austin, TX
Mar 15 - SXSW Festival - Austin, TX
Mar 16 - Circle Bar - New Orleans, LA
Mar 17 - Proud Larry's - Oxford, MS
Mar 18 - The End - Nashville, TN
Mar 20 - 529 - Atlanta, GA
Mar 21 - Local 506 - Chapel Hill, NC
Mar 22 - Crown 2 - Baltimore, MD
Mar 23 - Kung Fu Necktie - Philadelphia, PA
Mar 24 - Glasslands - Brooklyn, NY
Mar 25 - Mercury Lounge - New York, NY
Mar 27 - Great Scott - Allston, MA
Mar 28 - TRH Club - Montreal, Canada
Mar 29 - TRH Club - Montreal, Canada

Solids debut album "Blame Confusion" will be available on February 18th. Pre-order it below.


Self "Subliminal Plastic Motives"

A reissue of Self's debut album "Subliminal Plastic Motives" will be out January 14. Pre-order it below.


Upcoming Shows:
Jan 10 - Gramercy Theater - New York, NY
Jan 12 - Exit / In - Nashville, TN


Classic Blues CD Rereleases

Louisiana Red "Dead Stray Dog"

John Lee Hooker "Alone"
iTunes Vol.1
iTunes Vol.2

Roosevelt Sykes "Music Is My Business"

Alec Seward "Late One Saturday Evening"



Bobby Bare Jr "Shame On Me"

"Shame On Me", a  7" from Bobby Bare Jr is available now through Big Legal Mess.


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

New blues releases from Blind Pig Records!
American roots music label Blind Pig Records returns to its traditional blues origins with the release of new titles from Shawn Holt and the Teardrops and Roosevelt Sykes.

Shawn Holt & the Teardrops   "Daddy Told Me" Shawn Holt is the son of the late legendary blues master, Magic Slim. After twenty-four years and ten releases as Magic Slim's label, Blind Pig Records is very proud to announce the debut recording by Shawn Holt & the Teardrops, Daddy Told Me.  John Primer, a distinguised and long time member of the Teardrops, is a special guest.
When the blues world mourned the passing of Magic Slim this past spring at a tribute at Buddy Guy's Legends in Chicago, Bill Dahl of the Chicago Blues Guide wrote, "'A Night For Magic' commenced in true torch-passing fashion with Slim's guitar-wielding son, Shawn Holt, leading a second-generation lineup of Teardrops that proved conclusively he has what it takes to maintain the family legacy."
Magic Slim & the Teardrops have probably been nominated for the Blues Foundation's "Blues Band of the Year" award more times than any blues band playing today - including eight times in the last ten years. You can't become a Teardrop until Magic Slim says you're good enough.  Shawn Holt became a Teardrop last year shortly before his dad died.
The high energy, hard-driving sound of the Teardrops is still alive and well with Shawn, a chip off the old block, fronting his old man's band.  Shawn's booming vocal presence is more than a little reminiscent of his father's, and his guitar playing, while similar to Slim's, exhibits a broader mix of classic and contemporary influences. Combining a couple of his Dad's songs and other songs associated with him with five of his own originals, Shawn shows himself more than capable of leading the Teardrops into a new era.
Roosevelt Sykes   "The Original Honeydripper"
Considered by many to be the father of modern blues piano, Roosevelt Sykes enjoyed a career that spanned some sixty years. In 1929, at age 23, he was one of the earliest blues pianists to record. In the following decades he went on to became a very prolific recording artist, a highly successful bandleader and later, a popular solo artist. He was a pioneering pianist responsible for the classic songs "44 Blues," "Driving Wheel," and "Night Time Is the Right Time."
The Original Honeydripper was recorded live in 1977 in the small basement blues club of the Blind Pig Café in Ann Arbor, Michigan. It was recordings and performances such as this that led to the formation of Blind Pig Records. Originally released on LP, this re-issue, with improved sound quality, also contains two original outtakes, "St. James Infirmary" and "Don't Talk Me to Death," that have been marvelously resurrected.
The selections span the length and breadth of Roosevelt Sykes' career and the times in which he lived.  Featuring Roosevelt's own musical hybrid of ragtime and country blues piano, these solo performances capture Sykes as the consummate entertainer who truly delighted in singing and playing piano for lively, appreciative audiences.  As All Music Guide said, "This label can really be counted on to do a fine job on documenting an artist. For a recording of this artist in his later years, one can't really do better than this set."

For more information visit

Thursday, September 6, 2012


Fred Below (September 16, 1926 – August 14, 1988) was a leading blues drummer, best known for his innovative work with Little Walter and Chess Records in the 1950s. Nobody laid more of the Chicago blues rhythmic foundations, particularly its archetypal backbeat, than Fred Below.

He was born in Chicago, and started playing drums in a high school jazz band. After being conscripted into the United States Army, he joined the 427th Army band, where he played with Lester Young. After war service, he played in nightclub in Germany before returning to the United States in 1951.

Back in Chicago, Below joined a group called The Aces, comprising Junior Wells and brothers Louis and Dave Myers. Little Walter had just left Muddy Waters' band to pursue a solo career, Wells taking over Walter's role on harp in the Muddy Waters band and Walter commandeering the Aces (Myers brothers and Below). As Little Walter and the Nightcats, they became one of the top electric blues bands in Chicago.

In 1955, Below left Little Walter's live band to concentrate on working as a session musician for Chess Records. However, he continued to play on Little Walter's records, as well as hit records for Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Jimmy Rogers, Elmore James, Otis Rush, Junior Wells, Howlin' Wolf and others.

John Brim's last Chess single, "I Would Hate to See You Go," was waxed in 1956 with a musical ensemble consisting of Little Walter, guitarist Robert Lockwood, Jr., bassist Willie Dixon, and Fred Below.

Amongst his more famous work was playing on Chuck Berry's 1957 hit single, "School Days".

The Myers brothers and Below re-formed under the Aces moniker in 1970 to tour Europe before again going their separate ways.

Fred Below died from cancer on August 14, 1988 in Chicago at the age of 61
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Saturday, August 25, 2012

Yes Lawd - Roosevelt Sykes with Leonard Gaskin

Leonard Gaskin (August 25, 1920 – January 24, 2009) was an American jazz bassist born in New York City.

Gaskin played on the early bebop scene at Minton's and Monroe's in New York in the early 1940s. In 1944 he took over Oscar Pettiford's spot in Dizzy Gillespie's band, and followed it with stints in bands led by Cootie Williams, Charlie Parker, Don Byas, Eddie South, Charlie Shavers, and Erroll Garner. In the 1950s he played with Eddie Condon's Dixieland band, and played with Ruby Braff, Bud Freeman, Rex Stewart, Cootie Williams, Billie Holiday, Stan Getz, J.J. Johnson, and Miles Davis.

In the 1960s he became a studio musician, playing on numerous gospel and pop records. In the 1970s and 1980s he returned to jazz, playing with Sy Oliver, Panama Francis, and The International Art of Jazz.

Leonard Gaskin became involved in educating young people later in his life. He performed and shared his knowledge with elementary students with the Good Groove Band (Leonard Gaskin, Melissa Lovaglio, Bob Emry, Michael Howell) at Woodstock Elementary School in Woodstock, NY in 2003. Gaskin died January 24, 2009
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Saturday, May 21, 2011

Gulfport Boogie - Roosevelt Sykes

Roosevelt Sykes (January 31, 1906 – July 17, 1983) was an American blues musician also known as "The Honeydripper". He was a successful and prolific cigar-chomping blues piano player whose rollicking thundering boogie was highly influential.
Born in Elmar, Arkansas, Sykes grew up near Helena but at age 15, went on the road playing piano with a barrelhouse style of blues. Like many bluesmen of his time, he travelled around playing to all-male audiences in sawmill, turpentine and levee camps along the Mississippi River, gathering a repertoire of raw, sexually explicit material. His wanderings eventually brought him to St. Louis, Missouri, where he met St. Louis Jimmy Oden.

In 1929 he was spotted by a talent scout and sent to New York to record for Okeh Records. His first release was "'44' Blues" which became a blues standard and his trademark. He quickly began recording for multiple labels under various names including 'Easy Papa Johnson', 'Dobby Bragg' and 'Willie Kelly'. After he and Oden moved to Chicago he found his first period of fame when he signed with Decca Records in 1934. In 1943, he signed with Bluebird Records and recorded with 'The Honeydrippers'.

In Chicago, Sykes began to display an increasing urbanity in his lyric-writing, using an 8-bar blues pop gospel structure instead of the traditional 12-bar blues. However, despite the growing urbanity of his outlook, he gradually became less competitive in the post-World War II music scene. After his RCA Victor contract expired, he continued to record for smaller labels, such as United, until his opportunities ran out in the mid 1950s

Roosevelt left Chicago in 1954 for New Orleans as electric blues was taking over the Chicago blues clubs. When he returned to recording in the 1960s it was for labels such as Delmark, Bluesville, Storyville and Folkways that were documenting the quickly passing blues history. He lived out his final years in New Orleans, where he died from a heart attack on July 17, 1983.
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