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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 WC Handy Award. Show all posts
Showing posts with label WC Handy Award. Show all posts

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Texas Flood - Larry Davis (1958)

Larry Davis (December 4, 1936 – April 19, 1994) was an American electric Texas blues and soul blues musician. He is best known for co-composing the song "Texas Flood", later recorded to greater commercial success by Stevie Ray Vaughan.
Born in Kansas City, Missouri and raised in Little Rock, Arkansas, Davis swapped playing the drums to learn to play the bass guitar. In the mid 1950s, Davis had a working partnership with Fenton Robinson, and following the recommendation of Bobby Bland was given a recording contract by the Duke label. Davis had three singles released, which included "Texas Flood" and "Angels in Houston". Thereafter, Davis had limited opportunity in the recording studio. He resided in St. Louis, Missouri for a while, and played bass in Albert King's group. He also learned conventional guitar at this time, as the original guitar playing on Davis's recording of "Texas Flood" was by Robinson.

Several single releases on the Virgo and Kent labels followed, but in 1972 a motorcycle accident temporarily paralyzed Davis' left side. He returned a decade later with an album released by Rooster Blues, Funny Stuff, which was produced by Oliver Sain. He won four W.C. Handy Awards in 1982, yet a decade on he was known only to blues specialists. His 1987 Pulsar LP, I Ain't Beggin' Nobody, proved difficult even for blues enthusiasts to locate.

In 1992, Bullseye Blues issued another Davis offering, Sooner or Later, that highlighted his booming vocals and Albert King influenced guitar work. Fate then came calling again and Davis died of cancer in April 1994, at the age of 57.

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Saturday, November 19, 2011

Harmonica Whomp! - Abe Reid

Abe Reid was born in Statesville, North Carolina in 1972. His first foray into music started at a mere 8 years old when his mom's then current boyfriend, Tim bought him a guitar, introduced him to blues music and began teaching him how to play. Eventually, he expanded his repertoire with harmonicas, kazoos, and various other instruments. Aside from Tim's instrument coaching, Abe never had any formal training or lessons. He says, "We didn't have a radio in our car so my mom would always sing songs to me."

Abe made his first public appearance at the early age of 12, playing at a fiddler's convention with Tim. He knew then that he wanted to be a musician. At age 16 he met Tim Duffy, founder of Music Maker Relief Foundation, at a blues festival. Duffy told him that he knew where to find "a real live bluesman" and introduced Abe to the infamous Guitar Gabriel. Abe played harmonica with him and Gabe told him he was good. That gave Abe the confidence he needed to continue to move forward in the music industry. That chance meeting is also what inspired Abe to focus in the early days on blues in particular.

Abe started playing gigs for local parties, friends, etc., but still felt he needed to grow and gain more confidence. "It's kind of hard to take on the persona of an old black dude in your hometown where all the people know I [went to] New Orleans to sing like I wanted to try to sing and do the things that I knew that I could do..."

At age 19, he left North Carolina for the streets of New Orleans. He stayed for about 6 months, playing mostly blues and ragtime, all the while gaining more confidence to play in front of larger crowds. After his New Orleans experience, he returned to North Carolina, this time to Asheville, and joined a local band playing southern rock at various venues. After 6 months, he headed back to Statesville and formed the Blue Rags where he sang lead vocals and played harmonica. The band frequented various clubs, festivals and private parties, even opening for Colonel Bruce Hampton.

The Blue Rags quickly became known as a premier rag-n-roll band shooting off fabulous original blues tunes as well as terrific covers of old favorites. Featured on the cover of Mountain Xpress three different times, the band was voted by Creative Loafing magazine as the best blues band twice and the best band in Charlotte, N.C. Soon after signing with Sub Pop records, Abe and the band parted ways.

In 1998, Abe went solo and entered the Piedmont Blues Preservation Society's Talent Contest. He won first prize and a trip to Memphis to compete in the International Blues Talent Competition. The only solo act out of 34 selected to compete in the contest, Abe won and took home the honor of "Best Blues Band in the Land." In addition to taking home 20 hours of recording time, $1,000 and 1,000 complete CDs, he also received performance slots at the 1999 W.C. Handy Blues Awards in Memphis, TN, King Biscuit Blues Festival, Springing the Blues Festival, the Memphis in May Beale Street Music Festival as well as bookings at over a dozen clubs nationwide.

In 2001, Abe went back to the band concept and started Abe Reid and the Spikedrivers. The band released their first CD Caution: Falling Boogie, featuring the local hit, "Fern Gully Lace". Abe recently relocated to Maryland and signed with Aces and Eights Productions, LLC. He is currently booking local venues while working on his next CD and preparing for an East Coast tour. Today, Abe's music combines blues, funk, rock, and punk with a splash of country, creating infectious melodies that take on a life of their own. Abe has overwhelmed audiences of every background with his screamin' harmonica, rock-solid guitar and raspy, howlin' vocals.
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Monday, November 14, 2011

New Release: Mill Block Blues - Ruff Kutt - Review

Ruff Kutt Blues is the name of the project started by James Goode, a Rockabilly Hall of Fame bass player and fan of Texas Blues. The other name you need to know on this project is the name of Texas Blues guitar legend Anson Funderburgh. James and Anson go way back. And together, they have recruited an all-star cast of musicians to work on a special CD called Mill Block Blues. I was going to include a favorite picture of mine with a few of Anson's fans (Elmo James - contributor and yours truly) but there is just way too much to cover here. This is a really strong recording that a lot of people have been waiting for some time to come out. I was first introduced to Anson on a late night show with David Sanborn. He has his own guitar style with that perfect attack. This guitar playing along with the fine artistry is well showcased throughout this fine recording. My favorite takes are "Cut Like a Knife", "Now You See Me" and the title track, "Mill Rock Blues".

They are down to around 200 CD's left. The proceeds from the sale of the
CD's will go to charity. There will be no reprints.

Anson Funderburgh - Guitar, Arranger, Producer

Anson is a local hero to blues guitar players across the state of Texas. And there's good reason. He and his bandmates have brought 9 W.C. Handy blues awards, the blues world's equivalent of a Grammy, back to the state of Texas. This is quite an accomplishment. And it's part of the reason why so many young guitar players today look up to Anson. The other reason is that his body of work on guitar is considered by both fans and critics as some of the best blues guitar ever recorded.
Anson has played with some of the finest blues, R&B and country musicians in the land, including such notables as the Fabulous Thunderbirds, Snooks Eaglin, Delbert McClinton, Boz Scaggs, David Sanborn, Huey Lewis, Betty White, Earl King, Hal Ketchum, Thunderbird Davis, Grady Gaines and Clarence Hollimon & Carol Fran.Anson plays guitar on all of the tracks on the "Mill Block Blues" CD. And once again, it's tasteful stuff from the living Godfather of Texas Blues.

Gentleman John Street - Keys, Arranger, Producer

Gentleman John Street is the musical genius behind the "Mill Block Blues" CD. Not only did he do most of the arranging of the tunes, he also did all the recording and engineering on the album. His keyboard work is stellar on the album. And the basic song ideas sprung to life when John got his hands on them.

John's been involved in music in one way or another since he was 8 years old. This includes musical director for off Broadway productions,  stage managing, production managing, sound engineering, guitar tech, keyboard tech, complete electronics tech, and player for national & international touring acts and recording on dozens of albums. He was Stage Manager for the '87-'89 Gregg Allman Band Tour. Many Scandinavian tours playing traditional blues with Rock Bottom (Parsifal Artist) & a stint with The Gregg Allman Band. He's also toured with Anson Funderburgh & The Rockets featuring Sam Myers. And he now tours with Andrew "Jr Boy" Jones as the dedicated keys player.

James Goode - Bass, Songwriting

James is the heart and soul of this project. It was his idea to record a CD to try and help musicians in need. And he wrote the lyrics to all the songs on the CD and helped with the arrangements as well. James is also an accomplished musician in his own right as he is now a full member of the Rockabilly Hall of Fame with his old band, The Excels. 

James' role cannot be undersold. He played bass on all the tunes. But he is also the guy that brought all of these fine musicians together and united us on this common goal. Without James, there would be no "Mill Block Blues" CD. The songs on that CD tell the story of James' life growing up on the Mill Block. The CD and the music are a reflection of James, the man.

Wes Starr - Drums

FORREST WESLEY STARR was born on May 22, 1955 in Rome, Georgia. At the age of nine, Wes began his formal training with private drum lessons. Wes joined his school band program in the fifth grade. In the ninth grade at Pepperell High School, Wes was made Drum Lieutenant, a position he held through graduation. During these years, Wes played in local rock, jazz and dance bands in and around Rome and Atlanta, Georgia. Early influences include Gene Krupa, Elvin Jones, and Butch Trucks of the Allman Brothers Band.
When an offer came in 1979 from his friend, Kim Wilson (The Fabulous Thunderbirds), to audition with "Omar and the Howlers", Wes moved to Austin, Texas. For the next four years, he toured around the country with "Omar and the Howlers" and recorded Omar's first LP, Big Leg Beat. This was to become for Wes, the beginning of a long music career in Texas and the developing of his own creative style of Texas drumming.
After one and a half years with "Asleep at the Wheel", which included the recording of one LP and a touring schedule of more than 250 dates a year, Wes left "the Wheel" to join Louisiana's up-and-coming R&B artist Mason Ruffner. During the nine months Wes played with Mason, they toured as support act for The Firm's U.S. tour, featuring Jimmy Page and Paul Rogers.
After doing a stint in Delbert McClinton's band, Wes joined long-time friends Anson Funderburgh and Sam Myers touring the U.S., Canada, Scandanavia and Europe taking May 2001 off to tour Europe with Lee McBee.

Andrew "Jr. Boy" Jones - Vocals

Guitarist, songwriter and singer Andrew "Jr. Boy" Jones began working professionally at age 16 with Freddie King's backing band, the Thunderbirds. He got his first guitar from his uncle, jazz musician Adolphus Sneed. For many years, he's backed various Dallas-area vocalists on guitar, but in the mid-1990s, he came into his own as a vocalist with an album for JSP Records, I Need Time (1997), which showcases his crafty songwriting, great guitar playing, and powerful singing.
In 1967, Jones joined Dallas-area vocalist Bobby Patterson's band, the Mustangs. Through most of the 1970s, Jones backed various artists, including Johnnie Taylor and Charlie Robertson. In late 1987, Jones moved to California and joined the Silent Partners with bassist Russell Jackson and drummer Tony Coleman, longtime drummer with B.B. King's band (and in recent years a part-time resident of Portland). Jones recorded with the late pianist and singer Katie Webster on her critically praised Alligator Records album, Swamp Boogie Queen.
While recording with Sonny Rhodes, Jones met harmonica ace Charlie Musselwhite, who persuaded him to join his band. Jones played guitar on Musselwhite's three late-1980s/early-1990s albums for Alligator Records (Ace of Harps, In My Time, and Signature) and did extensive touring with the harmonica master (Jones appeared with Musselwhite at the Waterfront Blues Festival in 1995).
Jones left Musselwhite's band amicably in the mid-1990s and returned to Dallas, where he accompanies Dallas-area blues singers like R.L. Griffin, Hal Harris and the Lowlifers.

Dempsey Crenshaw - Vocals, Harmonica

Born in Alabama, Dempsey came to Dallas around 1961. After learning harp very early in life, he picked up bass guitar playing with and opening for many of the Blues and R&B Greats. Around 1957 he started touring with a list of artists that reads like a WHO’S Who of Rock & Roll and R&B. They include Sam & Dave, Jimmy Reed, Freddie King, Chuck Berry, T-Bone Walker, Eddie Floyd, Rufus Thomas, Marvin Gaye, Big Joe Turner, Etta James, and Little Richard’s guitar player. He also did a 2 year stint with The Drifters from 1963 to 64.
Dempsey started his own band called Shame Shame, that had success and a following in Dallas. They toured and recorded a CD, and played B.B. King’s club in Memphis. He then formed another local Dallas blues band called D.C. and the Capitals. And you can hear some of Dempsey's unmistakable vocals on several tracks on the CD.

Michael Schaefer - Vocals, Songwriting

Born and raised in Plano, Texas, Michael grew up listening to a wide variety of Texas music from the earliest days he can remember. Told by his parents that he started drumming in his crib at the age of two, his earliest musical interests involved percussion. Michael was an All-Region drummer in the middle school band in Plano. The passion for music continued while down in Austin as he studied guitar with Sean Mencher of the rockabilly trio, High Noon. 

Later Michael would develop an ear and passion for Texas blues. He founded the internet discussion group on Yahoo called North Texas Blues. And he currently runs a website called The Texas Blues Roadhouse dedicated to promoting local Texas Blues artists.

Michael was lead vocalist and a guitar player in two local Dallas bands. The first was a blues-rock band known as Texas Mojo. And the second is his most recent project called Mike and the Majestics where he worked with noted bluesman Dempsey Crenshaw. Michael is currently studying jazz guitar at Collin College. And he is currently co-director of the Frisco School of Music Jazz Band.

Hash Brown - Harmonica

For those of us in the Dallas Blues scene, Hash Brown is another of those guys that everyone looks up to. He's an ambassador for authentic Texas Blues. His brain has stored more blues riffs and knowledge about the blues than almost anyone.
Hash Brown has been playing the Blues since 1973. He plays guitar, harmonica, and sings. He moved to Dallas, TX in 1983, and cut his eye teeth playing with an assortment of Dallas Blues royalty including ZuZu Bollin, Henry Qualls, Sam Myers, Big Al Dupree, Robert Ealey, Willie Willis, Ray Sharpe,U.P. Wilson, Little Joe Blue, Ernie Johnson, and many, many more.
He has 3 CDs under his own name, a number of compilations and also appears as a side man on no less than 30 recordings; including ZuZu Bollin, Henry Qualls, Barbara Lynn, Robert Ealey, Hosea Hargrove, and many, many others.
He continues to make Dallas, TX his home and plays continually around the metroplex, and a
short tour every now and then.

Ron Jones - Sax

After getting his Bachelor of Music Education at the University of North Texas, Ron went on to get his Masters in Music at NYU. He's studied with the likes of Chris Potter, George Garzone, Lenny Pickett, Jim Riggs, Jim McNeely, Kenny Werner.

Ron recorded on Al Green's "Love Is Reality" (Sony 1990) and he's recently recorded on CD's for Anson Funderburgh, Wanda King, Christian Dozzler and Rhett Butler.

Ron has opened concerts for Crosby Stills & Nash, Tower of Power, David Sanborn,
Liebman/Brecker/Lovano, Temptations, Earl Klugh. And he's jammed onstage with Smokey Robinson, Mick Fleetwood, Gregg Allman, Kirk Whalum, Delbert McClinton, George Thorogood and Buddy Miles.
Ron has also taught Jazz at Richland College, Brookhaven College and was the Jazz Band Director at Northlake College. You can get a healthy dose of Ron's tasty sax work on this CD.

Don Cates - Rhythm Guitar

Don was born and raised on the Mill Block.  He went through the tough times as the rest of the folks there.  Don is an accomplished guitarist
and played on "This Is The Place"  The song is about the Don Cates Annual Fish Fry and Blues Bash.  His contributions on this CD are greatly appreciated.
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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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Thursday, October 6, 2011

Little Wing - Stevie Ray Vaughan

Stephen Ray "Stevie Ray" Vaughan (October 3, 1954 – August 27, 1990) was an American electric blues guitarist and singer. He was the younger brother of Jimmie Vaughan and frontman for Double Trouble, a band that included bassist Tommy Shannon and drummer Chris Layton. Born in Dallas, Vaughan moved to Austin at the age of 17 and began his music career. Later, producer John H. Hammond arranged a deal with Epic Records in 1983.

Alcohol and drug abuse severely affected his health before he became sober in late 1986. After three years without a new album, he returned to the studio, releasing In Step. The album produced the single "Crossfire" in July 1989, which became a number one hit. On August 26, 1990, Vaughan performed at Alpine Valley Music Theatre as part of his In Step Tour in a triple bill along with Eric Clapton and Robert Cray before an audience of approximately 25,000. Leaving the concert that evening, his helicopter crashed into a nearby ski slope. He was pronounced dead hours later.

Vaughan was an important figure in Texas blues, a loud, swing-driven fusion of blues and rock. He became the leading musician of the blues rock sound, with multiple network television appearances and charting albums. His debut Texas Flood, released in June 1983, became a double-platinum record. Vaughan encompassed multiple styles, including jazz and ballads. Nominated for 12 Grammys, he won six. He won five W. C. Handy Awards and was posthumously inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2000. He is widely considered one of the most respected and influential guitarists of all time.
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Friday, September 23, 2011

Moonshine Society Live

In 2011, Washington, DC based blues rock band Moonshine Society was given the amazing opportunity to bring American roots music overseas. From January 2011-April 2011, the band performed six nights a week at the House of Blues and Jazz in Shanghai, China, owned by Chinese movie actor Lin Dong Fu. Joining them on stage was legendary harmonica player Charlie Sayles (WC Handy award nominee who has performed at Carnegie Hall, the White House, and been the focus of a BBC documentary after being discovered in New York City).

They delivered sounds of classic and original blues, jazz, and R&B to a truly international audience including locals, business executives, music lovers, students, tourists, and more from around the world.

While in Shanghai, the band recorded 18 live shows which have been condensed to a 10 song album. They're looking to release a truly unique album that crosses continents, generations, social differences, and language barriers and gives live witness to keeping the blues alive while introducing them around the world.

Please view the bands full story by hitting bands name above.


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Blues is Alright - Little Milton

James Milton Campbell, Jr. (September 7, 1934 – August 4, 2005), better known as Little Milton, was an American electric blues, rhythm and blues, and soul singer and guitarist, best known for his hit records "Grits Ain't Groceries" and "We're Gonna Make It."
Milton was born James Milton Campbell, Jr., in the Mississippi Delta town of Inverness and raised in Greenville by a farmer and local blues musician. By age twelve he had learned the guitar and was a street musician, chiefly influenced by T-Bone Walker and his blues and rock and roll contemporaries. In 1952, while still a teenager playing in local bars, he caught the attention of Ike Turner, who was at that time a talent scout for Sam Phillips' Sun Records. He signed a contract with the label and recorded a number of singles. None of them broke through onto radio or sold well at record stores, however, and Milton left the Sun label by 1955.

After trying several labels without notable success, including Trumpet Records, Milton set up the St. Louis based Bobbin Records label, which ultimately scored a distribution deal with Leonard Chess' Chess Records. As a record producer, Milton helped bring artists such as Albert King and Fontella Bass to fame, while experiencing his own success for the first time. After a number of small format and regional hits, his 1962 single, "So Mean to Me," broke onto the Billboard R&B chart, eventually peaking at #14.

Following a short break to tour, managing other acts, and spending time recording new material, he returned to music in 1965 with a more polished sound, similar to that of B.B. King. After the ill-received "Blind Man" (R&B: #86), he released back-to-back hit singles. The first, "We're Gonna Make It," a blues-infused soul song, topped the R&B chart and broke through onto Top 40 radio, a format then dominated largely by white artists. He followed the song with #4 R&B hit "Who's Cheating Who?" All three songs were featured on his album, We're Gonna Make It, released that summer.

Throughout the late 1960s Milton released a number of moderately successful singles, but did not issue a further album until 1969, with Grits Ain't Groceries featuring his hit of the same name, as well as "Just a Little Bit" and "Baby, I Love You". With the death of Leonard Chess the same year, Milton's distributor, Checker Records fell into disarray, and Milton joined the Stax label two years later. Adding complex orchestration to his works, Milton scored hits with "That's What Love Will Make You Do" and "What It Is" from his live album, What It Is: Live at Montreux. He appeared in the documentary film, Wattstax, which was released in 1973. Stax, however, had been losing money since late in the previous decade and was forced into bankruptcy in 1975.

After leaving Stax, Milton struggled to maintain a career, moving first to Evidence, then the MCA imprint Mobile Fidelity Records, before finding a home at the independent record label, Malaco Records, where he remained for much of the remainder of his career.[2] His last hit single, "Age Ain't Nothin' But a Number," was released in 1983 from the album of the same name. In 1988, Little Milton was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame and won a W.C. Handy Award. His most final album, Think of Me, was released in May 2005 on the Telarc imprint, and included writing and guitar on three songs by Peter Shoulder of the UK-based blues-rock trio Winterville.

The name 'Little Milton' was reused for Gerald Bostock, the fictional boy poet central to Jethro Tull's 1972 record Thick as a Brick.

Milton died on August 4, 2005 from complications following a stroke.