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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 Kent. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Willie Kent. Show all posts

Friday, December 3, 2021

Delmark Records artist: Dave Specter - Six String Soul - New Release Review

 I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Six String Soul, a double cd release by Dave Specter and it's great. Celebrating 30 years on Delmark, with remastered recordings from throughout his career and celebrating many guests. Opening with Buzz Me Specter on guitar, is joined by Barkin Bill Smith on vocal and Ronnie Earl on guitar as well as Ken Saydak on organ, Dez Desormeaux on sax, Red Groetzinger on sax, Mike McCurdy on bass and John Hiller on drums. Very cool. Specter really stretches out nicely on solo guitar on slow blues, Railroad Station. Smith, on lead vocal does a real nice job and Bob Stroger on bass anchors the track. Saydak's piano is a nice accent and sax soloing by Groetzinger is really nice. I really like instrumental, Specter's Walk, with it's deep jazz groove. Specter cruses on guitar, Desormeaux's sax solo is rich, and Saydak's organ work is strong. Tad Robinson has lead vocal on Sweet Serenity. I've always been a fan of Robsinson's vocals and Specter really gets this track swinging on guitar. Very nice. West Side Stroll is another terrific instrumental, showcasing Specter's dynamic guitar style. Backed by Mike McCurdy on bass and Mark Fornek on drums, another great track. Seventy-Four is a strong slower blues with Willie Kent on lead vocal and bass. This is the style of track that really gets Specter in the slot. His lead soloing is tops and with Fornek on drums, another highlight of the release. Lynwood Slim has the mic on Get Back Home, a strong shuffle. Mike Scharf on bass, Barrelhouse Chuck on piano and Fornek on drums hold a tight bottom and Specter nails it on guitar. Very nice. Kenny Lynn really adds depth to the release with his powerhouse vocals on Blues On My Mind and Rob Waters' organ solo is dynamite. Low slung, In Too Deep, features Sharon Lewis on lead vocal and Specter's guitar doing his talking. With Brother John Kattke on piano, Harlan Terson on Bass and Marty Binder on drums, this is a great shuffle. The Blues Ain't Nothin' features a cool pairing of Specter and Jorma Kaukonen on lead guitars with Harlan Terson on bass, Marty Binder on drums, Kattke on keys and lead vocal, Mars Williams on sax, John Janowiak on trombone and Ron haynes on trumpet. Wrapping the release is Ballad of George Floyd with Specter on guitar and vocal with Billy Branch on vocal and harmonica backed by Danny Shaffer on acoustic guitar and Brother John Kattke on organ. This is a really terrific retrospective and a great addition to your collection. 

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Monday, July 1, 2013

Delmark Records artist: Tail Dragger - Stop Lyin' - New Release Review

I just received the newest release of Tail Dragger's work, Stop Lyin' which was recorded in 1982 but never released, and I have to say I believe that it his best work to my ear. Opening with So Ezee, with Jimmy Dawkins on guitar and Little Mack Simmons on harp. A classic Chicago track, Burks really plays some nice riffs on harp and TD is in good form. Lafayette Leake is also a standout on piano on this track. Where Did You Go is a strong slice of "Smokestack Lightning" and a terrific track with solid vocals from TD. Ain't Gonna Cry No Mo is a terrific slower blues track featuring Johnny B Moore and Jesse Lee Williams on guitars, Willie kent on bass, Larry Taylor on drums and Eddie Jewtown Burks on harp. Solid harp and guitar work punctuate this track. Don't You Want A Good Man follows along the lines of Trouble No More and Moore shines nicely on this track. On classic TD track, My Head Is Bald, Jimmy Dawkins and Leake are again present with Little Mack Simmons on harp. Alabama Bound has a Elmore James feel featuring Moore on slide guitar. TD again shows how he got his reputation as a singer with a strong vocal outing. Another of my favorites on the release is Don't Trust Yo Woman, another track strongly affected by Wolf ... the strong rhythmic structure being accented by stinging guitar riffs. Please Mr Jailer has solid roots to Muddy and Moore again steps forward with some real nice guitar riffs. Stop Lyin', with a Muddy style gets a really great groove going and cool slide work from Moore. The release is capped by an interesting description of the immediate blues environment at the time. This is a cool release and certainly the most enjoyable Tail Dragger release that I have heard in a few years. If you like TD as a vocalist and you like Chicago blues, this is more than just another collectors only edition but a strong set to hear.  

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Sunday, February 24, 2013

Willie Kent featuring Guy King

Listen to the music: when he sings, Willie Kent’s voice blazes out from the heart of the blues. Below the singing, you hear his bass guitar, flawless and rich. Between these two runs the music, a deep, honest blues that flowed from rural Mississippi to urban Chicago and remembers everything it learned along the way. Willie Kent was born in 1936 in the small town of Inverness, Mississippi, just a hundred miles south of the border with Tennessee, and the blues ran all through his childhood. His first experience singing came in church, where he went "all the time" with his mother and brother. "Blues and gospel come from the same place," he would say later in life. "They're both from the heart." But the blues always called to him. Dewitt Munson, a neighbor wending homeward late nights with a guitar in his hand and a bottle in his pocket, would stop a while at the Kent porch to rest, letting the young Willie hold his guitar while he told stories. Through radio station KFFA’s famous "King Biscuit Time", Willie basked in the sounds of Arthur Crudup, Sonny Boy Williamson, and especially Robert Nighthawk. By the time he was eleven, he was regularly slipping out to the Harlem Inn on Highway 61 to hear it all live: Raymond Hill, Jackie Brenston, Howlin’ Wolf, Clayton Love, Ike Turner, Little Milton. He left home at the age of thirteen. In 1952 he arrived in Chicago, where he soon was working all day and listening to music all night. One of his co-workers was cousin to Elmore James - and Willie Kent (still underage) took to following that famous bluesman from club to club, absorbing his music. Each weekend he’d go out looking for blues, and he found it: Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, J.B. Lenoir, Johnnie Jones, Eddie "Playboy" Taylor, A.C. Reed, J.B. Hutto, and Earring George Mayweather. His love for the music led him further and further into it. He bought himself a guitar, and in 1959 through guitarist friend Willie Hudson, linked up with the band Ralph and the Red Tops, acting as driver and manager and sometimes joining them onstage to sing. He made a deal with Hudson, letting him use the new guitar in trade for lessons on how to play it. One night’s show was decisive: the band’s bass player arrived too drunk to play, and because the band had already spent the club’s deposit, they couldn’t back out of the gig; so Willie Kent made his debut as a bass player, on the spot. He never looked back. From that point on, his credits as a musician read like a "Who’s Who" of Chicago blues. After the Red Tops, he played bass with several bands around the city and stopped in often for Kansas City Red’s reknowned "Blue Monday" parties. He was increasingly serious about his music and formed a group with guitarists Joe Harper and Joe Spells and singer Little Wolf. By 1961, he was playing bass behind Little Walter, and by the mid-60’s was sitting in with Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, and Junior Parker. Toward the end of the 60’s, he joined Arthur Stallworth and the Chicago Playboys as their bass player, worked briefly with Hip Linkchain, then played bass behind Jimmy Dawkins. He joined Jimmy Dawkins on his 1971 European tour, but when they returned to the States, their paths diverged: Dawkins wanted to keep touring and turned over his regular gig at Ma Bea’s Lounge to Willie Kent, who wanted to stay in Chicago. For the next six years, the Ma Bea’s house band was known as Sugar Bear and the Beehives, headed by Willie Kent (the Sugar Bear himself) with guitarist Willie James Lyons and drummer Robert Plunkett. In that setting, he set the tone of the club and backed up a stellar guest list including Fenton Robinson, Hubert Sumlin, Eddie Clearwater, Jimmy Johnson, Carey Bell, Buster Benton, Johnny Littlejohn, Casey Jones, Bob Fender, Mighty Joe Young, B.B. Jones, and Jerry Wells. (For a taste of the music, check out the superb 1975 recording Ghetto – Willie Kent and Willie James Lyons live at Ma Bea’s.) Willie Kent had played occasionally with Eddie Taylor’s blues band during the late 70’s, and in 1982 became a regular member of the band, which then included Eddie Taylor on guitar, Willie Kent on bass, Johnny B. Moore on guitar, and Larry and Tim Taylor on drums. His relationship with Eddie Taylor was both a solid friendship and a warm musical partnership (evidenced in Eddie Taylor’s fine recording Bad Boy on Wolf Records). After the death of Eddie Taylor, Willie Kent devoted his energies to his own band, Willie Kent and the Gents, with Kent on bass and vocals, Tim Taylor on drums, and Jesse Williams and Johnny B. Moore on guitar. And the Gents endured. Over the years, the composition of the group shifted as musicians joined or moved on, but the music remained as clear, powerful and steady as the bass line that held it true: a pure Chicago West Side blues. By the end of his life, Willie Kent was well-known and respected in the blues world, but getting there wasn’t easy. In 1989, a series of heart problems led to life-changing triple bypass surgery. As he healed, he spent time reflecting on blues music, his career, and the future. He gave up his day job and turned his full attention to music. His discography bears witness: before 1989, there were just two recordings to his credit; in the years since, he had ten releases under his own name, recorded behind many other blues artists, and appeared in countless blues compilations. He always thought his singing should get more recognition than it did; but his bass playing earned him many honors.

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Monday, September 26, 2011

Last Night - Willie Kent

Willie Kent (February 24, 1936 – March 2, 2006) was an American blues singer, bassist and songwriter.
Kent was born in Inverness, Sunflower County, Mississippi. Although he had played the bass guitar in Chicago's clubs since the 1950s, Kent worked full time until he was over 50 years of age. Following heart surgery, he stopped work as a truck driver, and formed a band. His impassioned singing was deemed similar to both Byther Smith and John Primer.

In early 2005, Kent was diagnosed with colon cancer, but continued his busy live schedule in spite of chemotherapy treatments. He died in Englewood, California in March 2006
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