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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 Super Chikan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Super Chikan. Show all posts

Monday, February 3, 2014

Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise #22 - Stilladog Rides Again



This was my fifth Blues Cruise and this marks the third review of the LRBC I’ve done for Bman’s Blues Report.  I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve become a well-seasoned cruiser by now, or if it’s because I had some close friends join me on this cruise, or if the music was any better, or if the islands were more friendly, but this was the best Blues Cruise yet for me!

If you haven’t heard me say it before, I’ll start off with these words of wisdom.  A Blues Cruise vacation is exactly what you make it. You don’t even have to be a fan of blues music to have the time of your life, but it helps!  You can listen to as much music as you want starting as early as 10:30AM and going non-stop somewhere on the ship until 6:00AM.  One night I wandered into the Crows Nest at 5:00AM and listened to JP Soars jam until 5:30AM when they finally called it a night… except for one thing, it was already 6:30AM because we had crossed from the Eastern time zone to the Atlantic time zone at 2 o’clock.

So what I’m saying is you can’t possibly see it all. I know I missed some epic jams but I also saw some great stuff and came away with a new appreciation for several artists (as I always do).  

As all cruises do, it started out with a Sail Away Party on the pool deck. This one was hosted by Curtis Salgado.  Curtis has fought off some very serious health problems including cancer over the past 7 or 8 years yet his voice never sounded better.   I think through the course of the week he brought out his harp and jammed with just about everyone too.

Super Chikan
Next up was one of my –any many other’s–  favorites, Super Chikan.  My friends who were virgin cruisers enjoyed Super Chikan immensely.  From his custom “chiktar” made from a ceiling fan motor to his famous rooster crow, to ending every song with his catch phrase “Somebody shoot that thing!”  He put smiles on all the faces. I knew what to expect and I must say Super Chikan was in excellent form.  His sets are always great fun.  

The first morning, I attended the Returnee Party.  I walked to the venue with Scrap Iron, former manager for Little Milton and co-MC of the Returnee Party (along with Big Llou from BB King’s Bluesville on Sirius Radio).  I asked Scrap who we were going to see figuring if he’s introducing the act he knows who it is. All Scrap said was “They told me it was going to be something special. But they wouldn’t say who it is.”

When Scrap Iron finally did the introduction he told the audience just what he had told me privately.  And he brought on the All-Girls  All-Star Blues Band!  They really set the bar high right off the bat!  This band consisted of triple guitars, Debbie Davies, Ana Popovic, and Samantha Fish!  On keys was Eden Brent.  On bass was Danielle Schnebelen from Trampled Under Foot.  And on vocals in addition to the singing talents of those already mentioned there was Sista Monica Parker, Tasha Taylor, and the great Denise LaSalle.  On drums was the consummate professional, Tony Braunagel  (lucky dude!).  The highlights of this set for me were a) anything sung by Denise LaSalle, and b) the cover of ZZ Top’s “Tush” sung by Eden Brent.  Free drinks aside, this was a party you didn’t want to miss!   
All Girls All-Star Blues Band

While the Returnee Party was taking place, the Virgins had a party of their own on the pool deck with the Selwyn Birchwood Band. Normally I don’t mention this party because I haven’t been a virgin cruiser since the inception of Bman’s Blues Report. But my virgin friends who attended were very impressed with IBC Award Winner Selwyn Birchwood, who himself was a virgin cruiser.

Soon after, this whole cruise just melted into one big party for me.  I will only write about the things that really made an impression on me (there are many) and will not attempt to go in chronological order.  Quite frankly, I believe my brain cells that kept track of time were lost somewhere in the Caribbean, most likely during Lil’ Eds set at Margaritaville on Grand Turk.  But some of these sets were so memorable I’ll never forget them.

One of the most impressive performers on this cruise was Ana Popovic and her new big band,  Mo’ Better Love.   After growing up in Serbia, she now calls Memphis home and there is a definite Memphis sound to this band.  I’ve seen Ana probably 4 or 5 times over the years beginning back in 2006.  Back then, she struggled with English, both speaking and singing. In those days I remember saying “this girl can really play but I wish she’d just keep her mouth shut.”  We’ll let me tell you with each passing year and chance to see her she’s gotten better both on guitar and in English.  Honestly, the metamorphosis that has occurred for her has been amazing to watch.  She is now a master on guitar and speaks very clearly and sings beautifully in English.   When I got a chance to talk to her I told her I know how hard she has worked on both and how much it is appreciated by her fans.  I saw her play at least twice on this cruise in addition to the aforementioned Returnee Party and the band was a joy to see each time. 
Ana Popovic

The Zydeco band for this cruise –every cruise has one– was Corey Ledet and His Zydeco Band. This band featured Lil Buck Sinegal on guitar although he only got limited chances to solo.  They were very popular with cruisers.  They did zydeco versions of songs by as diverse artists as Bob Marley, Guns & Roses, and Cheap Trick, in addition to some fine material of their own.

Lil Ed  (photo courtesy of Michael Udell)
I wore my fez for the Lil’ Ed and the Blues Imperials sets of which I saw 3.  Ed was without a doubt one of the most popular artists. The “Ed Heads” were out in full force for all of them, particularly for his land event at Margaritaville on Grand Turk where you could spot a fez here and there on people in the pool while the Blues Imperials jammed on.  <pic of Lil Ed>

In addition to playing numerous sets Lil Ed and the Blues Imperials were the house band for two showings of the Joe Plummer play, “Nothing But The Blues.”  Just WOW!  This play is set at Theresa’s Lounge in Chicago in the early 1980s.  It’s the story of a small blues club in a basement in Chicago that culminates in what we now know as the Theresa Needham Award given annually at the Chicago Blues Festival for outstanding service to the blues community .  To find out more about the history of the real life Theresa’s Lounge, click here:  http://www.chicagobarproject.com/Memoriam/Theresa's/Theresa's.htm

Southern Hospitality (Victor Wainwright, JP Soars, Damon Fowler) were another band who absolutely wowed many cruisers.  I guess many of them were unaware of this band but I not only was familiar with SoHo (as they prefer to be called now to eliminate any confusion between them and Royal Southern Brotherhood) but also each of the guys as solo artists.  In addition to their own smokin’ sets,  Wainwright was hugely popular as Piano Bar host where the jams last until the sun comes up.  He was often accompanied by JP Soars who was also a regular in the Crow’s Nest for late night jams. 

Kenny Wayne Shepherd was a “headliner” of sorts mainly due to his popularity.  His sets continue to be professionally done but with little but manufactured passion for what he’s doing.  However, in a pool deck jam hosted by Trampled Under Foot,  Kenny and TUF guitarist, Nick Schnebelen  engaged in a legendary  jam.  It was the first time I saw Kenny Wayne really seem to have fun playing guitar since I first saw him in 2002 at the Chesapeake Blues Fest.  This jam was the talk of the cruise.

Marquise Knox and Selwyn Birchwood each played a land gig on the island of Anguilla.  They sounded good.  But I cannot really say how good because the venue was totally inadequate for viewing beyond a few dozen people and the sound system was not the greatest either.  This trip billed as The Ultimate Beach Party and sometimes known as The Chilla in Anguilla came up far short of expectations although a day on the beach drinking beer and listening to blues is always fun.

Tab Benoit was great.  His sets were wonderful. And he practically commandeered the Crows Nest jams to the point that we started calling it Tab’s Nest!  He could be found up there jamming almost every night and was frequently spotted playing drums while other people –often JP Soars or Selwyn Birchwood – took over guitar duty.   He also hosted a Bingo game to raise money for the Voice of the Wetlands which was hilarious.  I particularly liked his story of playing golf with Willie Nelson!

I did not get to see but a tiny bit of Sugar Ray & The Bluetones but I did hear their guitarist Monster Mike Welch a few times and he is another artist who has matured into a really top notch musician.

Tommy Castro, who is on every cruise, had a CD release party for his new album The Devil You Know which was very entertaining and his jams with Debbie Davies and Chris Cain were the highlights.

Chris Cain was again the supreme guitarist on the ship.  He was often seen playing with Debbie Davies. And they were part of the Legendary R&B Revue along with The Painkillers.  I guess those West Coast blues folks stick together.  His set in the Queens Lounge (called Theresa’s Lounge for this cruise) was great. 
  And few besides Theodis Ealey were willing to cut heads with him when it was his turn to host the jam.  

One of the most entertaining sets I’ve ever seen anywhere was turned in by what was billed as the Down Home Blues Extravaganza.  It featured the Mel Waiters band with Theodis Ealey on guitar, Latimore on keys, and blues hall of famer, Denise LaSalle.  The highlight of this set was the 15 minute version of Snap, Crackle, and Pop by Denise.  She had me practically rolling on the deck laughing as she described how to “make that coochie snap, crackle and pop” in song while poking fun at Theodis, Bobby Rush, and Clarence Carter.   Theodis Ealey was a guitarist I gained much new respect for on this cruise.  It was almost like I discovered him for the first time.


Finally, I went to a guitar summit of sorts hosted by Debbie Davies where Ana Popovic, Marquise Knox, Monster Mike Welch, Chris Cain, John Hammond, and Nick Schnebelen all talked about how they got started and how their styles developed.  It was very telling to hear how many of them started listening to their parents records at a young age. John Hammond whose father’s work in recording was legendary was to be expected.  But Ana Popovic said that all her father had in the house in the former  Yugoslavia was blues, soul and r&b records from America.  And Chris Cain saying his dad drove a truck yet they had the best stereo system around and how all his dad’s blues and soul records ended up in his room.  Or how Cain’s dad took him to see Ray Charles, Charles Brown, and BB King concerts as a youngster.   Very enlightening. 
Guitar Summit

As usual, I’ve left some people out.  Never got to see Otis Clay although I did get to speak briefly with him.  Same for Sista Monica who remembered a set she did with Elvin Bishop which I attended back in 2003. Or the Neal Brothers (Frederick & Darnell) who I found in the Piano Bar late one night/early one morning.   Or Eric Bibb who I saw do 2 songs on the way to someplace else.  Or The James Hunter Six who my friend who goes by the name Texasbluzer said was phenomenal.  As I said, you just can’t see it all.

Bottom line here folks is that if you are a blues fan and can afford to get away for a week in the Caribbean sun, the Legendary Blues Cruise is definitely the way to go.  And if you’re not a blues fan, one week on this ship and you will be!  



Thanks Dog!!  Bman
 
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Sunday, February 5, 2012

Jan. 2012 Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise Part II - correspondent Stilladog


When we hit St. Croix, USVI, it was just in time for the St. Croix Blues Festival. This festival began at noon and was spread out across various bars all afternoon culminating in a huge gathering at the Verne I. Richards Memorial Park stage in Frederiksted at dusk where the featured artists were Coco Montoya, Shemekia Copeland, and the Low Rider Band (formerly known as WAR... the band can't legally market themselves as WAR, but I can say that).

After a hike of 1.25 miles through "the jungle," as my wife called it, I hit a place called Rhythms At Rainbow Beach. They had a local band called the St. Croix Blues Society playing. These guys jammed and played well beyond the 12-3 time frame. I ended up here due to a prior commitment to deliver some Tom Jenkins BBQ Sauce down from Ft. Lauderdale to the keyboard player of the St. Croix Blues Society, Tom Eimer. And what I discovered at Rhythms is that Harry Nilsson was right. You put de lime in de coconut and drink em bot togetta, put de lime in de coconut den you feel betta. The Lime In The Coconut is their signature drink and it alone was worth the hike!

By the time I got to the festival stage Coco Montoya was just starting up. He did an abbreviated set due to technical sound difficulties but it was very inspired. About half way through, a typical Caribbean rain squall hit the festival. But we all had so many Bushwhackers, Cruzan Confusions, and Voo Doo Juice in us (on top of the Lime In The Coconuts) it didn't really matter. Coco kept jamming and we absorbed it all.

I had never seen Coco Montoya play before and was surprised to find that he is a left handed picker using a right handed guitar, a la Jimi Hendrix.

After a brief respite from the rain, another squall hit and we headed back for the ship where we sat on our balcony and listened to Shemekia Copeland and Low Rider Band.

The next day in St. Maartens, N.V. was spent at the beach but was not without music. We were thoroughly entertained by The Might Dow, aka Isadore York, and his steel pan band. Well known as the Calypso King of St. Maartens, The Mighty Dow proved that what Etta James said is true, "It's all blues."

After his scheduled set, The Mighty Dow continued to jam with the Kenny Neal Band who laid down an awesome groove for a sunny day at the beach! Kenny Neal employs nearly all his family (brothers, sisters, children etc.) in the band. Most noteworthy being his brother Frederick on keys who also hosted late night jams in the Piano Bar along with Mitch Woods and Eden Brent. And you must see Kenny's twin sisters Charlene and Darlene shake their sizable bootays! Let me tell you the James Brown Dancers got nothin' on those girls!!

The next act for review is the Homemade Jamz Band. Another family band which consists of two brothers and their sister, Ryan (vocal and guitar), Kyle (bass) and Taya (drums) Perry. In addition to giving a blues "tutorial" of sorts to public school children on St. Croix, these youngsters really rock it out! They also appear to be very nice and talented young folks who are only going to get better. Again, the blues is in good hands with kids like this playing it! Of note is Ryan Perry's custom guitar made from a Ford muffler and replete with dual tailpipes!!

Also appearing and representing the artwork of the cruise was my old buddy, James "Super Chikan" Johnson. Clearly Super Chikan was by far the most accessible, funny, and generally congenial artist on the cruise as he was on my last Blues Cruise in Jan. of 2010. He takes the time to talk with anyone who strikes up a conversation with him and is more than happy to clown around during an impromptu photo request. His music was great but the man is greater than what he plays.

Also appearing was Rod Piazza & the All Mighty Flyers featuring Rod on harp and his wife, the incomparable Honey Piazza, on keyboards. Rod might have had the tightest band on the ship. Among some very very professional performances, The All Mighty Flyers stood out. Ran into the Piazzas in the elevator where Honey and I reminisced about the time we were backstage for Aretha Franklin's Chesapeake Blues Fest performance. Honey told me that Aretha is getting married. But by the time I was on the plane for home, People magazine informed me that the nuptials were off.

I tried to catch some of Bettye LaVette but something about her rubbed me the wrong way. I think it was her stage presence or personality. At one point she said she was going to sing all her "hits" and ask the audience why they never sold. Bettye's recordings are great but I wouldn't recommend going out of your way to see her live. To be fair, those who stayed said she did a stirring performance on her cover of The Who's "Love Reign O'er Me."

I know Kenny Wayne Shepherd was the feature headliner of this cruise but I never bothered to go see him. I've seen KWS perform numerous times and he can really play. But he doesn't bring anything new to the table. I know Bman doesn't share this feeling but I can just as easily listen to my old Stevie Ray Vaughan records if that's what I want to hear. Word on the ship from those who did see him play was that his special guest, Buddy Flett, was the star of his show anyway. I tried to watch Kenny Wayne's last set from the TV in my stateroom as I packed to disembark, but after 4 tunes I switched over to the Weather Channel.

So that's about it in two nutshells. Bottom line here is that the Legendary Blues Cruise is first and foremost the best vacation you can ever have. And secondly, if you enjoy blues music the cruise is the place to be. They've got another one scheduled for October sailing out of San Juan, PR. If you can, get on it!!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

We are going to do something the Devil ain't done, we fixin' to leave! - Super Chikan


James "Super Chikan" Johnson (born February 16, 1951, Darling, Mississippi) is an American blues musician, based in Clarksdale, Mississippi. He is the nephew of fellow blues musician Big Jack Johnson.
One commentator noted that Super Chikan, along with Big Jack Johnson, Booba Barnes, R. L. Burnside, and Paul "Wine" Jones were "present-day exponents of an edgier, electrified version of the raw, uncut Delta blues soundSuper Chikan goes one step further to show that it's in the hands...as he plays a guitar made from a shotgun.
Delta Bluesman, Super Chikan, plays one of his unique creations during the , 2011 Juke Joint Festival, Clarksdale Mississippi (at Ground Zero Club).
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Sunday, July 10, 2011

Rum Boogie - Super Chikan and Watermelon Slim




James "Super Chikan" Johnson is a Blues Music Award winning American blues musician, artist and guitar maker based in Clarksdale, Mississippi. He is the nephew of fellow blues musician Big Jack Johnson.

James Louis Johnson was born in Darling, Mississippi on February 16, 1951. He spent his childhood moving from town to town in the Mississippi Delta and working on his family's farms. He was very fond of the chickens on the farm, and before he was old enough to work in the fields, he would walk around talking to them. This led his friends to give him the nickname "Chikan Boy". At an early age, Johnson got his first rudimentary musical instrument, a "diddley bow", which was simply a piece of wood with a piece of baling wire stretched from end to end. As he grew up, he came up with new ways to improve and vary the sounds he could make with it, and finally, in 1964, at the age of thirteen, he bought his first guitar, an acoustic model that had only two strings, from a Salvation Army store in Clarksdale.

As an adult, “Super Chikan” began driving a truck for a living. During the long stretches on the road, he began composing his own songs. When he showed some of the songs to his friends, they convinced him to go a studio and record them. He then started playing with some renowned local musicians, but he decided he would rather perform on his own than try to conform his style to that of his band-mates.


Bill "Watermelon Slim" Homans has built a remarkable reputation with his raw, impassioned intensity. HARP Magazine wrote "From sizzling slide guitar...to nitty-gritty harp blowing...to a gruff, resonating Okie twang, Slim delivers acutely personal workingman blues with both hands on the wheel of life, a bottle of hooch in his pocket, and the Bible on the passenger seat." Paste Magazine writes "He's one hell of a bottleneck guitarist, and he's got that cry in his voice that only the greatest singers in the genre have had before him."

The industry agrees on all fronts. Watermelon Slim & The Workers have garnered 17 Blues Music Award nominations in four years including a record-tying six in both 2007 & 2008. Only the likes of B.B. King, Buddy Guy and Robert Cray have landed six in a year and Slim is the only blues artist in history with twelve in two consecutive years. In Spring 2009 he was the cover story of Blues Revue magazine. Now, Watermelon Slim is making more waves with Escape From the Chicken Coop, his first-person account of the days he spent driving a truck. It is just one of many instances of a life spent changing gears.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Delta Rising: A Blues Documentary -- Trailer

A film documentary about the blues. Clarksdale Mississippi to Memphis Tennessee. Although not new, a new one on the list for me to watch!

Features Morgan Freeman, Bill Luckett, Jimbo Mathus, Scott Bomar, James Montgomery, Chris Cotton, Ruby Wilson, Super Chikan, Grace Kelly, Pinetop Perkins, Honeyboy Edwards and others.





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Saturday, May 21, 2011

Building a Cigar Box Guitar

The cigar box guitar is a primitive chordophone whose resonator is a discarded cigar box. Because the instrument is homemade, there is no standard for dimensions, string types or construction techniques. Many early cigar box guitars consisted of only one or two strings that were attached to the ends of a broomstick that was inserted into the cigar box. Other cigar box guitars were more complex, with the builder attempting to simulate a traditional string instrument such as a guitar, banjo, or fiddle.




Cigars were packed in boxes, crates, and barrels as early as 1800, but the small sized boxes that we are familiar with today did not exist prior to around 1840.[1] Until then, cigars were shipped in larger crates containing 100 or more per case. After 1840, cigar manufacturers started using smaller, more portable boxes with 20-50 cigars per box.

Trace evidence of cigar box instruments exist from 1840 to the 1860s. The earliest illustrated proof of a cigar box instrument known is an etching copyrighted in 1876 of two Civil War Soldiers at a campsite with one playing a cigar box fiddle. The etching was created by illustrator and artist Edwin Forbes who, under the banner of Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, worked for the Union Army. The etching was included in Forbes work Life Stories of the Great Army. In the etching, the cigar box fiddle clearly shows the brand ‘Figaro’ on the cigar box.

In addition to the etching, plans for a cigar box banjo were published by Daniel Carter Beard, co-founder of the Boy Scouts of America, in 1884 as part of 'Christmas Eve With Uncle Enos.' The plans, eventually retitled ‘How to Build an Uncle Enos Banjo’ as part of Beard's American Boy’s Handy Book in the 1890 release as supplementary material in the rear of the book. These plans omitted the story but still showed a step-by-step description for a playable 5-string fretless banjo made from a cigar box.



It would seem that the earliest cigar box instruments would be extremely crude and primitive; however, this is not always the case. The National Cigar Box Guitar Museum, according to One Man's Trash: A History of the Cigar Box Guitar[3], has acquired two cigar box fiddles built in 1886 and 1889 that seem very playable and well built. The 1886 fiddle was made for an 8 year old boy and is certainly playable, but the 1889 fiddle has a well carved neck and slotted violin headstock. The latter instrument was made for serious playing.

The cigar box guitars and fiddles were also important in the rise of jug bands and blues. As most of these performers were black Americans living in poverty, many could not afford a "real" instrument. Using these, along with the washtub bass (similar to the cigar box guitar), jugs, washboards, and harmonica, black musicians performed blues during socializations.



The Great Depression of the 1930s saw a resurgence of homemade musical instruments. Times were hard in the American south and for entertainment sitting on the front porch singing away their blues was a popular pastime. Musical instruments were beyond the means of everybody, but an old cigar box, a piece of broom handle and a couple wires from the screen door and a guitar was born.

A modern revival of these instruments (also known as the Cigar Box Guitar Revolution) has been gathering momentum with an increase in cigar box guitar builders and performers. A loose-knit tour of underground musicians tour the East Coast (US) each summer under the banner "Masters of the Cigar Box Guitar Tour." These musicians include Doctor Oakroot, Johnny Lowebow, Tomi-O and many others. Also, there is a growing number of primitive luthiers adding cigar box guitars to their items for sale.[citation needed] Of the more noteworthy cigar box guitar makers is Shane Speal, the so-called "King of the Cigar Box Guitar."

Modern revival is sometimes due to interest in jugband and the DIY culture, as a cigar box is relatively inexpensive when considering other factors, such as strings and construction time. Many modern cigar box guitar can thus be seen as a type of practice in lutherie, and implement numerous personal touches, such as the addition of pick up and resonator cones into it.

The modern revival of cigar box guitars is documented in the 2008 film, "Songs Inside The Box" which was shot primarily at an annual Huntsville, Alabama event called the Cigar Box Guitar Extravaganza

This is the first in a series of how to build a cigar box guitar.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Super Chikan - Interview - Building Guitars - Talkin' Chicken



James "Super Chikan" Johnson is a Blues Music Award winning American blues musician, artist and guitar maker based in Clarksdale, Mississippi. He is the nephew of fellow blues musician Big Jack Johnson.

James Louis Johnson was born in Darling, Mississippi on February 16, 1951. He spent his childhood moving from town to town in the Mississippi Delta and working on his family's farms. He was very fond of the chickens on the farm, and before he was old enough to work in the fields, he would walk around talking to them. This led his friends to give him the nickname "Chikan Boy". At an early age, Johnson got his first rudimentary musical instrument, a "diddley bow", which was simply a piece of wood with a piece of baling wire stretched from end to end. As he grew up, he came up with new ways to improve and vary the sounds he could make with it, and finally, in 1964, at the age of thirteen, he bought his first guitar, an acoustic model that had only two strings, from a Salvation Army store in Clarksdale.

As an adult, “Super Chikan” began driving a truck for a living. During the long stretches on the road, he began composing his own songs. When he showed some of the songs to his friends, they convinced him to go a studio and record them. He then started playing with some renowned local musicians, but he decided he would rather perform on his own than try to conform his style to that of his band-mates.

He did so, and in 1997 “Super Chikan” released his debut album, Blues Come Home to Roost, influenced by such musicians as Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, and Chuck Berry. He went on to release What You See in 2000, Shoot That Thang in 2001, Chikan Supe in 2005, Sum Mo Chikan in 2008, and Chikadelic in 2009, which was awarded the 2010 Blues Music Award for Traditional Blues Album.

Welcome To Sunny Bluesville, Super Chikan's latest CD, was recorded at XM / Sirius Satellite Radio's state-of-the-art performance studio in Washington, DC. It features both Chikan solo and with his band, The Fighting Cocks.

In the Clarksdale area, "Super Chikan" is probably best-known for performing regularly at Morgan Freeman's Ground Zero blues club, and for being Freeman's favorite blues performer. “Super Chikan” has toured and performed at festivals in Africa, Iceland, Japan, UK, Denmark, Canada, Mexico, Finland, France, Italy, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Russia and Switzerland, and has performed for the President of the United States. He was recently nominated by the Blues Foundation, for his second year in a row, the Blues Music Awards for BB King Entertainer of the Year and Traditional Male Blues Artist.

Last year, he was honored with four nominations, including BB King Entertainer of the Year, Song of the Year for "Fred's Dollar Store", Traditional Blues Male Artist, and he won the BMA for Traditional Blues Album of the Year for Chikadelic. He was previously nominated for the Best New Artist Blues Music Award in 1998, and has received five Living Blues Critics Awards. In 2004, “Super Chikan” received the Mississippi Governorʼs Award for Excellence in the Arts.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Shoot That Thang


Photo of Blues Ace and Super Chikan on the Blues Cruise last year. This video features Super Chikan on Cigar Box Guitar. He spent his childhood moving from town to town in the Mississippi Delta and working on his family's farms. He was very fond of the chickens on the farm, and before he was old enough to work in the fields, he would walk around talking to them. This led his friends to give him the nickname "Chikan Boy". At an early age, Johnson got his first rudimentary musical instrument, a "diddley bow", which was simply a piece of wood with a piece of baling wire stretched from end to end. As he grew up, he came up with new ways to improve and vary the sounds he could make with it, and finally, in 1964, at the age of thirteen, he bought his first guitar, an acoustic model that had only two strings, from a Salvation Army store in Clarksdale.

As an adult, Super Chikan began driving a truck for a living. During the long stretches on the road, he began composing his own songs. When he showed some of the songs to his friends, they convinced him to go to a studio and record them. He then started playing with some renowned local musicians, but he decided he would rather perform on his own than try to conform his style to that of his bandmates. He did so, and in 1997 he released his debut album, Blues Come Home to Roost, influenced by such musicians as Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, and Chuck Berry. He went on to release What You See in 2000, Shoot That Thang in 2001, "Chikan Supe" in 2005, and "Sum' Mo' Chikan" in 2007. In the Clarksdale area, he is probably best-known for performing regularly at Morgan Freeman's Ground Zero blues club and for being Freeman's favorite blues performer. He also played support to Steven Seagal's band 'Thunderbox.'

Super Chikan's latest release was 'Chikadelic', and is distributed by BluesTown Records. It was recorded in Notodden, Norway's famed Juke Joint Studios, and was released at the 2009 Notodden Blues Festival. Super Chikan was backed by Norway's, Spoonful of Blues.