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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 Willie Big Eyes Smith. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Willie Big Eyes Smith. Show all posts

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Earwig Music artists: Chris James and Patrick Rynn - Barrellhouse Stomp - New Release Review

I just received the newest release, Barrelhouse Stomp, from Chris James and Patrick Rynn and it's a roller! Opening with contemporary Chicago style blues track, Goodbye, Later For You, in traditional fashion, Rynn and James open the release featuring super harp support from Rob Stone and piano work from Aaron Moore. James is always solid on vocals and he lays down nicely phrased riffs on guitar. Just Another Kick In The Teeth has a funky swing to it featuring Eddie Shaw on sax (as well as Jonny Viau, Norbert W Johnson) and Jody Williams on guitar. Viau opens I Feel So Good with a honkin good sax solo and James does a nice job of delivering on this classic blues track with contributions from Willie Big Eyes Smith (drums) and Aarom Moore on piano. Messin' With White Lightning has a spankin quick pace and Jody and James are on it with guitar riffs. Hot piano riffs from David Maxwell highlight this track and Willie Hayes is tight on drums. On slower paced swing track, Before It's Too Late, James digs in with vocal acuity and Moore really shines on keys.  A Fact Is A Fact, a quick paced Chicago style blues features Viau and Johnson on sax and Eddie Kobek on drums. James' vicious slide work and Rynn's steady bass work really make this work. One of my favorite tracks on the release, It Always Can Be Worse, James plays really nice harp along with his vocals and guitar, backed nicely by Hayes, Maxwell and Rynn. I'm Gonna Stop Foolin' Myself has a real R&B feel to it with Johnson and Viau back on mighty sax and Williams lays down some fine riffs on guitar. On classic Vicksburg Blues, Stone is back on harp and Williams on guitar but it's James on vocal and Maxwell on keys that really take this track for a ride. Bobby's Rock is in the tradition of Freddy King with really super fluid slide work from James and fine sax work from Kobek, Viau and Johnson. Take It Easy is a jammin boogie with Maxwell leading the way on keys. This is another track that really highlights James' vocals. Last Call Boogie is a really cool track using the Latin beat under the blues. Full blast sax work, Kobek really smokin the drums, Gray really hammering the keys and nice double stop guitar work from James makes this a terrific wrap to a solid release.  

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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Delmark artist: Al Miller - In Between Time - New Release Review

I just received and have been listening to the newest release, In Between Time, by Al Miller. Due to some family issues I found my self in sunny Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania last week and had the pleasure to listen to this release numerous time while on the road. While driving, I rarely have time to look at the liner notes but now that I am writing my review, some of my passing thoughts actually make sense. I'll begin by saying, I kept thinking that I was listening to a Mike Bloomfield or early Paul Butterfield album. In reading the press release, I note that Miller was a part of the '60's Butterfield scene and played often with Bloomfield. This does not sound at all like a clone. It sounds like the real deal. The release opens with McCracklin/Taub track, Rockin' All Day. A rockin' boogie, this starts the entire release with a great groove with Billy Flynn (guitar), Willie Big Eyes Smith (drums), Barrelhouse Chuck (piano), and of course Miller on vocal and harp. BB King's Need You So Bad has a nice foamy lope to it. John Primer leads the way on this track playing guitar and singing. Dave Specter plays some cool guitar riffs on this track joined by Mike Schlick on drums and Harlan Terson on bass. Definitely a hot track! Johnny Young's My Baby Walked Out features some of Millers best vocals and harp and Chuck really does a great job on the 88's on this track. Original track Old Friends has a Latin beat featuring Kenny Smith on drums, Ken Saydak on piano and hot Albert King like riffs by Dave Specter. Miller pulls out the stops on this track blowing some great harp riffs. In Between Time, another original by Miller, shows Miller with a guitar in hand playing some cool primitive slide work over a very stripped down track. Another Johnny Young track, I Got It, is a smokin' hot harmonica blowout. Pushed by Flynn, Smith and Saydak this is a great track. Willie Dixon's Dead Presidents finds Primer again at the helm with vocal and guitar. Accompanied by Mike Schlick on drums and Harlan Terson on bass Miller plays cool harp riffs and Barry Winograd and John Brumbach add a nice sax solo. Another Miller original, A Better Day,features nice guitar work by Flynn and Specter. One of the most enjoyable traditional tracks on the recording, Miller really gets into his vocal strength. On another Johnny Young track, Tighten Up On It, I can smell the beer and cigarettes. This is the Chicago blues just the way it was meant to be played. Never hear this on contemporary records anymore. Barrelhouse Chuck lays down the riffs and the mix is perfect.Flynn is also guilty of some superb riffage on this track with Big Eyes keeping the bottom tight. Elmore James' 1839 Blues features Primer again on vocals and he does a superb job. Ken Saydak shows why his piano work is in high demand and the tone from Millers harp is spot on. Primer takes a nice guitar solo on this track and it is solid and enticing. Billy Flynn's Billy's Boogie is a real rocker of course featuring some outstanding guitar work from Flynn ... not to be missed. Miller plays a hot solo on harp on this track as does Saydak and Mike Schlick keeps it all together. Excellent track! Percy Mayfield track Bachelor Blues really conjures up the feeling of the old Bloomfield days for me. Again Miller shows his best on vocals and harp on this track. Barrelhouse Chuck and Big Eyes are right on the spot and the track creates the feel of the real deal... it is! Eddie Taylor's If You Don't Want Me Baby fits perfectly into this set with a bit of a HD Taylor beat. It's a great pickup track before the great track by Miller, Lake Michigan Waters. Billy Flynn plays some flaming hot work on this track with what I'd even say sound reminiscent of old Bloomfield riffs. Along with the great playing of Miller and Saydak this track may be one of the most intense on the recording. Specter and Primer step out a little on guitar on Lawhorn Special. Miller knocks down some cool riffs as well but it's the guitars that take this cake. Al Miller original Blizzard wraps up this really coherent authentic Chicago blues release. Flynn and Primer playing some stinging guitar riffs over heavy reverb riffs on this track and kenny Smith is really particularly crisp with his beat on this track. This may be one of the best modern "Chicago" blues albums to come out in a long time.

  If you support live Blues acts, up and coming Blues talents and want to learn more about Blues news and Fathers of the Blues, Like ---Bman’s Blues Report--- Facebook Page! I’m looking for great talent and trying to grow the audience for your favorites band! ”LIKE”

I apologize that the band featured is not the band on the recording, but Al Does play harp here so I'll post a new one when I can find it. Enjoy!



Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Willie "Big Eyes" Smith funeral services - Bob Corritore correspondent


Sunday, September 25, 2011
Visitation 10 AM to 10 PM
Leaks & Sons Funeral Home
http://www.leakandsonsfuneralhomes.com/
7838 South Cottage Grove, Chicago, IL 60619 Ph:773-846-6567

Monday, Sept 26, 2011
Wake 10am until 11am
Funeral services 11am until noon
South Park Baptist Church
http://southparkbaptistchurch.com/
3720 S. King Drive, Chicago, IL 60653 Ph. 773) 548-6566

Friday, September 16, 2011

RIP Willie "Big Eyes" Smith - January 19, 1936 to Sept 16th, 2011.- Bob Corritore correspondent


It is with great sadness that we report the unexpected passing of one the true greats of the blues. Willie "Big Eyes" Smith. Willie passed away this morning of a stroke. He was 75 and was musically active until the very end. A brilliant drummer, harmonica player and vocalist, he represented the true essence of Chicago Blues, and was highly regarded by all as an undisputed master. He was an alumni of the Muddy Waters band and wore those stripes with honor. Willie "Big Eyes" Smith was born in Helena, Arkansas in 1936, and started playing harmonica at age 17, shortly after moving to Chicago. His harmonica first appeared on record in the 1950s gracing recordings by Arthur "Big Boy" Spires, and Bo Diddley (Willie played the harmonica on the Diddley classic "Diddy Wah Diddy"). At some point in the mid to late 1950s he started playing drums and in 1959 began his long association with Muddy Waters. Smith's drumming first appeared on record on Muddy Waters' 1960 album release of Sings Big Bill Broonzy. Smith had a real gift for drumming and his playing would help to define the later Muddy Waters Band sound. Many of us remember the classic Muddy Waters lineup of Muddy, Willie, Pinetop Perkins, Bob Margolin, Luther "Guitar Junior" Johnson, and Calvin "Fuzz" Jones. In June of 1980 members of Muddy's band struck out on there own, and formed the Legendary Blues Band which eventually found Willie as the lead vocalist, showcasing his stellar, down-home vocals. Willie released his first solo album, Bag Full of Blues in 1995, which firmly established him as an artist in his own right. Willie would revive his first instrument in later years, and in 1996 he would release Way Back, which debuted his new direction, and showed him to be a solid harmonicist. His final recording, Joined At The Hip was a collaboration with the now deceased Pinetop Perkins, and it it earned the two a Grammy in the Traditional Blues category. We have just touched upon a few of the many recordings of Willie "Big Eyes" Smith who's discography as both a frontman, and a sideman represents the highest of heights in the blues. Willie had a strong work ethic and was a consummate professional, and as a result he worked relentlessly. He won numerous BMAs (Blues Music Awards) as "Best Blues Drummer", and he always carried great bands with him. Of note is the wonderful management of Patricia Morgan, who helped guide the later part of Willie's amazing career, and the impressive booking of Blue Mountain Artists. Also thanks to Willie for bringing out the wonderful talent in his band with Jimmy Mayes, Bob Stroger, "Little" Frank Krakowski, and for his wonderful collaborations with other Muddy alums. Willie leaves his greatest legacy with his son Kenny "Beedy Eyes" Smith, who has become one of the world's greatest blues drummers and carries on his father's sound and tradition. Prayers for all of Willie's family, friends, fellow musicians, and fans as we say goodbye to one of the greatest blessings of the blues. We love you "Big Eyes". Funeral information to follow.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Mr Lucky - Pinetop Perkins - Willie "Big Eyes" Smith


I believe that this song is actually called Merry Christmas Baby by John Lee Hooker.
Joseph William Perkins (July 7, 1913 – March 21, 2011), known by the stage name Pinetop Perkins, was an American blues musician, specializing in piano music. He played with some of the most influential blues and rock and roll performers in American history, and received numerous honors during his lifetime including the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, and induction into the Blues Hall of Fame.
Perkins was born in Belzoni, Mississippi, United States. He began his career as a guitarist, but then injured the tendons in his left arm in a fight with a choir girl in Helena, Arkansas. Unable to play guitar, Perkins switched to the piano, and also switched from Robert Nighthawk's KFFA radio program to Sonny Boy Williamson's King Biscuit Time. He continued working with Nighthawk, however, accompanying him on 1950's "Jackson Town Gal".

In the 1950s, Perkins joined Earl Hooker and began touring, stopping to record "Pinetop's Boogie Woogie" (written by Pinetop Smith) at Sam Phillips' studio in Memphis, Tennessee. ("They used to call me Pinetop," he recalled, "because I played that song.") However, Perkins was only 15 years old in 1928, when Smith originally recorded "Pinetop's Boogie Woogie".

Perkins then relocated to Illinois and left the music business until Hooker convinced him to record again in 1968. When Otis Spann left the Muddy Waters band in 1969, Perkins was chosen to replace him. He stayed for more than a decade, then left with several other musicians to form The Legendary Blues Band with Willie "Big Eyes" Smith, recording through the late 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s.

Perkins played a brief musical cameo on the street outside Aretha's Soul Food Cafe in the 1980 movie The Blues Brothers, having an argument with John Lee Hooker over who wrote "Boom Boom." He also appeared in the 1987 movie Angel Heart as a member of guitarist Toots Sweet's band.

Although he appeared as a sideman on countless recordings, Perkins never had an album devoted solely to his artistry, until the release of After Hours on Blind Pig Records in 1988. The tour in support of the album also featured Jimmy Rogers and Hubert Sumlin.

His robust piano is fairly presented in On Top (1992), an easy-going recital of blues standards with his old Waters' associate, Jerry Portnoy on harmonica. In 1998 Perkins released the album Legends featuring guitarist Hubert Sumlin.

Perkins was driving his automobile in 2004 in La Porte, Indiana, when he was hit by a train. The car was wrecked, but the 91-year-old driver was not seriously hurt. Until his death, Perkins lived in Austin, Texas. He usually performed a couple of nights a week at Nuno's on Sixth Street. In 2005, Perkins received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

In 2008, Perkins received a Grammy Award for Best Traditional Blues Album for Last of the Great Mississippi Delta Bluesmen: Live In Dallas together with Henry James Townsend, Robert Lockwood, Jr. and David Honeyboy Edwards. He was also nominated in the same category for his solo album, Pinetop Perkins on the 88's: Live in Chicago.

At the age of 97, he won a Grammy Award for Best Traditional Blues Album for Joined at the Hip, an album he recorded with Willie "Big Eyes" Smith. Perkins thus became the oldest-ever Grammy winner, edging out comedian George Burns who had won in the spoken word category 21 years earlier (he had tied with Burns, at the age of 90, in 2004). A little more than a month later, Perkins died on 21 March 2011 at his home in Austin, Texas. At the time of his death, the musician had more than 20 performances booked for 2011. Shortly before that, while discussing his late career resurgence with an interviewer, he conceded, "I can't play piano like I used to either. I used to have bass rolling like thunder. I can't do that no more. But I ask the Lord, please forgive me for the stuff I done trying to make a nickel." Along with David "Honeyboy" Edwards, he was one of the last two original Mississippi Delta blues musicians, and also to have a personal knowledge of, and friendship with, Robert Johnson
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Interview - Pinetop Perkins and Willie "Big Eyes" Smith

Joseph William Perkins (July 7, 1913 – March 21, 2011), known by the stage name Pinetop Perkins, was an American blues musician, specializing in piano music. He played with some of the most influential blues and rock and roll performers in American history, and received numerous honors during his lifetime including the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, and induction into the Blues Hall of Fame.
Perkins was born in Belzoni, Mississippi. He began his career as a guitarist, but then injured the tendons in his left arm in a fight with a choirgirl in Helena, Arkansas. Unable to play guitar, Perkins switched to the piano, and also switched from Robert Nighthawk's KFFA radio program to Sonny Boy Williamson's King Biscuit Time. He continued working with Nighthawk, however, accompanying him on 1950's "Jackson Town Gal".



In the 1950s, Perkins joined Earl Hooker and began touring, stopping to record "Pinetop's Boogie Woogie" (written by Pinetop Smith) at Sam Phillips' studio in Memphis, Tennessee. ("They used to call me Pinetop," he recalled, "because I played that song.") However, Perkins was only 15 years old in 1928, when Smith originally recorded "Pinetop's Boogie Woogie".

Perkins then relocated to Illinois and left music until Hooker convinced him to record again in 1968.

When Otis Spann left the Muddy Waters band in 1969, Perkins was chosen to replace him. He stayed for more than a decade, then left with several other musicians to form The Legendary Blues Band with Willie "Big Eyes" Smith, recording through the late 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s.

Although he appeared as a sideman on countless recordings, Perkins never had an album devoted solely to his artistry, until the release of After Hours on Blind Pig Records in 1988. The tour in support of the album also featured Jimmy Rogers and Hubert Sumlin.

His robust piano is fairly presented in On Top (1992), an easy-going recital of blues standards with his old Waters' associate, Jerry Portnoy on harmonica. In 1998 Perkins released the album Legends featuring guitarist Hubert Sumlin.

Perkins was driving his automobile in 2004 in La Porte, Indiana, when he was hit by a train. The car was wrecked, but the 91-year-old driver was not seriously hurt. Until his death, Perkins lived in Austin, Texas. He usually performed a couple of nights a week at Nuno's on Sixth Street. In 2005, Perkins received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

In 2008, Perkins received a Grammy Award for Best Traditional Blues Album for Last of the Great Mississippi Delta Bluesmen: Live In Dallas together with Henry James Townsend, Robert Lockwood, Jr. and David Honeyboy Edwards. He was also nominated in the same category for his solo album, Pinetop Perkins on the 88's: Live in Chicago.

The song "Hey Mr. Pinetop Perkins", performed by Perkins and Angela Strehli, plays on the common misconception that Perkins wrote "Pinetop's Boogie Woogie":

Hey Mr. Pinetop Perkins
I got a question for you
How'd you write that first boogie woogie
The one they named after you

Perkins played a brief musical cameo on the street outside Aretha's Soul Food Cafe in the 1980 movie The Blues Brothers, having an argument with John Lee Hooker over who wrote "Boom Boom." He also appeared in the 1987 movie Angel Heart as a member of guitarist Toots Sweet's band.

At age 97, he won a Grammy Award for Best Traditional Blues Album for Joined at the Hip, an album he recorded with Willie "Big Eyes" Smith. Perkins thus became the oldest-ever Grammy winner, edging out comedian George Burns who had won in the spoken word category 21 years earlier (he had tied with Burns, at the age of 95, in 2004). A little more than a month later, Perkins died on 21 March 2011 at his home in Austin, Texas. At the time of his death, the musician had more than 20 performances booked for 2011. Shortly before that, while discussing his late career resurgence with an interviewer, he conceded, "I can't play piano like I used to either. I used to have bass rolling like thunder. I can't do that no more. But I ask the Lord, please forgive me for the stuff I done trying to make a nickel." Along with David "Honeyboy" Edwards, he was one of the last two original Mississippi Delta blues musicians, and also to have a personal knowledge of and friendship with Robert Johnson.


Willie "Big Eyes" Smith (born January 19, 1936, Helena, Arkansas) is a Grammy Award-winning American blues vocalist, harmonica player, and multi-award winning drummer. He is best known for several stints with the Muddy Waters band beginning in the early 1960s.Born in Arkansas in 1936, Smith learned to play harmonica at age seventeen just after moving to Chicago, Illinois. Smith's influences included listening to 78s and to KFFA King Biscuit radio shows, some of which were broadcast from Helena's Miller Theater, where he saw guitar player Joe Willie Wilkins, and harmonica player Sonny Boy Williamson II. On a Chicago visit in 1953 his mother took him to hear Muddy Waters at the Zanzibar club, where Henry Strong's harp playing inspired him to learn that instrument. In 1956, at the age of eighteen he formed a trio. He led the band on harp, Bobby Lee Burns played guitar, and Clifton James, who was the drummer. As "Little Willie" Smith he played in the Rocket Four, led by blues guitarist Arthur "Big Boy" Spires, and made recordings that were later reissued on the Delmark label. In 1955 Smith played harmonica on Bo Diddley's recording of the Willie Dixon song "Diddy Wah Diddy" for the Checker label.[citation needed] Drummers were in more demand than harp players, so Smith switched to drums and starting playing with Muddy Waters band. In 1959, Smith recorded with Waters on the 1960 album Muddy Waters Sings Big Bill Broonzy a tribute to Big Bill Broonzy

In 1961 Smith became a regular member of Muddy Water's band, which then consisted of George "Mojo" Buford, Luther Tucker, Pat Hare, and Otis Spann. By the mid '60s he'd left the band for more steady work as a cab driver. In the late '60s he rejoined Muddy's band and remained a permanent member until 1980. Smith appears on all of Muddy's Grammy Award winning albums, Hard Again, I'm Ready, They Call Me Muddy Waters, Muddy "Mississippi" Waters Live, The London Muddy Waters Session, and The Muddy Waters Woodstock Album, were released between 1971 and 1979. During his tenure with Waters, Smith is estimated to have participated in twelve sessions yielding eighty-four tracks.

In June 1980 Smith and other members of Muddy's band, Pinetop Perkins (piano), , Calvin Jones (bass), and Jerry Portnoy (harmonica), and Smith on drums, stuck out on their own, also recruiting veteran Chicago blues man Louis Myers (harmonica/guitar) to form The Legendary Blues Band, with the vocals shared by all. Later that year, Smith and the Legendary Blues Band appeared backing John Lee Hooker in the movie The Blues Brothers (1980). Smith was the only band member, besides Hooker, to appear onscreen in close-up. With varying personnel over the years, the Legendary Blues Band recorded seven albums, Life of Ease, Red Hot 'n' Blue, Woke Up with the Blues (nominated for a W. C. Handy Award), U B Da Judge, Prime Time Blues, and Money Talks, were recorded between 1981 to 1993. By the time Money Talks came out in 1993, Smith had become a very credible singer. The Legendary Blues Band toured with Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, and Eric Clapton.

His first solo recording started in 1995 with Bag Full of Blues, with Pinetop Perkins, harpist Kim Wilson, guitarists James Wheeler, Nick Moss, and Gareth Best, sticking with the Chicago blues sound. In 1999, Smith recorded with Muddy Waters son Big Bill Morganfield on his album Rising Son. Smith's album Way Back (2006), has 11 songs here, half of which he wrote. Backed by Bob Margolin and Frank Krakowski on guitar, Pinetop Perkins on piano, and guest shots by James Cotton and others. Willie's CD, Born in Arkansas, utilizes some of the best old-school blues players out there, including bassman Bob Stroger, pianist extraordinaire Barrelhouse Chuck, in-demand-by-everyone guitarist Billy Flynn, under-the-radar guitarist Little Frank Krakowski (who has worked with Willie for years) and top-notch drummer (as well as being Willie's son) Kenny "Beedy Eyes" Smith. In June 2010, Willie released Joined at the Hip with Pinetop Perkins. Joining these two in the studio were bassist Bob Stroger, Smith's son Kenny on drums, John Primer who was another Muddy Waters band alum, joins on lead guitar along with Frank Krakowski.

On February 13, 2011, he won a Grammy Award for Best Traditional Blues Album for Joined at the Hip, an album he recorded with Pinetop Perkins.
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