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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 sorted by relevance for query jimmy wolf. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query jimmy wolf. Sort by date Show all posts

Thursday, April 25, 2013

A Tribute To Little Johnny Taylor - Jimmy Wolf - New Release review

I just received the newest release, A Tribute To Little Johnny Taylor by Jimmy Wolf and it's a great showcase not only of Taylors music but Wolf's excellent guitar work. Opening with Walking The Floor, a standard 12 bar, Wolf plays some sweet riffs but never overplays giving the music the opportunity to breathe. One of my personal favorites, Somebody's Got To Pay, is up next and Wolf digs deep to find the right voice for such a deep track. Wolf has excellent backing on this release including Thomas "T.C." Carter on bass, Joe "Lawd Deez" Cummings on keys and Stephen "Rhythmcnasty" Bender on drums. Wolf rips a hole in this track with some voracious guitar riffs... out of control! Carter lays down some real funk for Hard Head and Bender is certainly up to the task. Wolf again lets it rip and he really plays fearlessly. Don't see that often and I like it! Everybody Knows About My Good Thing is another stellar song and Wolf's voice hits it's stride. The Wolf is on the loose and Katy bar the door! Really stiff hitting guitar riffs highlight this track. You'll Need Another Favor, a bottom driven blues track establishes a great groove and Cummings stretches out nicely on organ. Wolf keeps it simple on this track letting the groove speak for itself. Junkie For Your Love, a real funky number, gives Wolf the opportunity to show some searing riffs. Part Time Love, another of my personal favorites, has a real nice groove to it and Cummings brings the volume up and down to accentuate dynamics on this track. Wolf grabs his guitar by the throat on this one and doesn't let go. Real nice! Sometimey Woman has a R&B upbeat tempo and moves along quite nicely. Cummings takes another sail on the keys and creates a nice wake for Wolf to bust it loose. Using the patience of Albert King, Wolf lays down some pretty nice riffs and gets back to some of the better vocals on the track. On My Way Back Home closes the release setting a strong R&B driving rhythm. Wolf plays some real tasty riffs on this track and the tempo is spot on. This is a really enjoyable release with hot guitar and great rhythm. Check it out!

 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 favorite band!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Shake For Me - Howlin' Wolf

Chester Arthur Burnett (June 10, 1910 – January 10, 1976), known as Howlin' Wolf, was an influential American blues singer, guitarist and harmonica player. He was born in West Point, Mississippi in an area now known as White Station. With a booming voice and looming physical presence, Burnett is commonly ranked among the leading performers in electric blues; musician and critic Cub Koda declared, "no one could match Howlin' Wolf for the singular ability to rock the house down to the foundation while simultaneously scaring its patrons out of its wits." A number of songs written or popularized by Burnett—such as "Smokestack Lightnin'", "Back Door Man", "Killing Floor" and "Spoonful"—have become blues and blues rock standards. At 6 feet, 3 inches and close to 300 pounds , he was an imposing presence with one of the loudest and most memorable voices of all the "classic" 1950s Chicago blues singers. This rough-edged, slightly fearsome musical style is often contrasted with the less crude but still powerful presentation of his contemporary and professional rival, Muddy Waters. Howlin' Wolf, Sonny Boy Williamson (Rice Miller), Little Walter Jacobs, and Muddy Waters are usually regarded in retrospect as the greatest blues artists who recorded for Chess in Chicago. Sam Phillips once remarked, "When I heard Howlin' Wolf, I said, 'This is for me. This is where the soul of man never dies.'" In 2004, Rolling Stone magazine ranked him #51 on their list of the "100 Greatest Artists of All Time". Born in White Station, Mississippi, near West Point, he was named after Chester A. Arthur, the 21st President of the United States, and was nicknamed Big Foot Chester and Bull Cow in his early years because of his massive size. He explained the origin of the name Howlin' Wolf thus: "I got that from my grandfather [John Jones]." His Grandfather would often tell him stories about the wolves in that part of the country and warn him that if he misbehaved, the howling wolves would "get him". According to the documentary film The Howlin' Wolf Story, Howlin' Wolf's parents broke up when he was young. His very religious mother Gertrude threw him out of the house while he was still a child for refusing to work around the farm; he then moved in with his uncle, Will Young, who treated him badly. When he was 13, he ran away and claimed to have walked 85 miles barefoot to join his father, where he finally found a happy home within his father's large family. During the peak of his success, he returned from Chicago to his home town to see his mother again, but was driven to tears when she rebuffed him and refused to take any money he offered her, saying it was from his playing the "Devil's music". In 1930, Howlin' Wolf met Charley Patton, the most popular bluesman in the Delta at the time. Wolf would listen to Patton play nightly from outside a nearby juke joint. There he remembered Patton playing "Pony Blues," "High Water Everywhere," "A Spoonful Blues," and "Banty Rooster Blues." The two became acquainted and soon Patton was teaching him guitar. "The first piece I ever played in my life was ... a tune about hook up my pony and saddle up my black mare" (Patton's "Pony Blues"). Wolf also learned about showmanship from Patton: "When he played his guitar, he would turn it over backwards and forwards, and throw it around over his shoulders, between his legs, throw it up in the sky." "Chester [Wolf] could perform the guitar tricks he learned from Patton for the rest of his life." "Chester learned his lessons well and played with Patton often ." Howlin' Wolf was also inspired by other popular blues performers of the time, including the Mississippi Sheiks, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Ma Rainey, Lonnie Johnson, Tampa Red, Blind Blake, and Tommy Johnson (two of the earliest songs he mastered were Jefferson's "Match Box Blues" and Leroy Carr's "How Long, How Long Blues"). Country singer Jimmie Rodgers, who was Wolf's childhood idol, was also an influence. Wolf tried to emulate Rodgers' "blue yodel," but found that his efforts sounded more like a growl or a howl. "I couldn't do no yodelin'," Barry Gifford quoted him as saying in Rolling Stone, "so I turned to howlin'. And it's done me just fine."[citation needed] His harmonica playing was modeled after that of Rice Miller (also known as Sonny Boy Williamson II), who had taught him how to play when Howlin Wolf had moved to Parkin, Arkansas, in 1933. During the 1930s, Wolf performed in the South as a solo performer and with a number of blues musicians, including Floyd Jones, Johnny Shines, Honeyboy Edwards, Sonny Boy Williamson II, Robert Johnson, Robert Jr. Lockwood, Willie Brown, Son House, Willie Johnson. On April 9, 1941, at age thirty, he was inducted into the U.S. Army and was stationed at several army bases. Finding it difficult to adjust to military life, Wolf was discharged November 3, 1943, during the middle of World War II, without ever being sent overseas. Wolf returned to his family and helped with farming, while performing as he had done in the 1930s with Floyd Jones and others. In 1948 he formed a band which included guitarists Willie Johnson and Matt "Guitar" Murphy, harmonica player Junior Parker, a pianist remembered only as "Destruction" and drummer Willie Steele. He began broadcasting on KWEM in West Memphis, Arkansas, alternating between performing and pitching equipment on his father's farm after his family's move to this area in the same year. Eventually, Sam Phillips discovered him and ended up signing him for Memphis Recording Service in 1951. Matt "Guitar" Murphy played with Wolf teaching him to play on time. Matt says sometimes he played 13 bars and sometimes 14 and Murphy would cut through to show him how to stay in time, getting it down to 12 bars. Wolf regularly made up lyrics about the band on stage, sometimes in jest and sometimes hurtful. Murphy arranged for Junior Parker to join Wolf's band. Later Parker and Murphy both left to form "The Blue Flames", the name chosen by Murphy In 1950, Howlin' Wolf cut several tracks at Sun Studio in Memphis. He quickly became a local celebrity, and soon began working with a band that included Willie Johnson and guitarist Pat Hare. His first recordings came in 1951, when he recorded sessions for both the Bihari brothers at RPM Records and Leonard Chess's Chess Records. Chess issued Howlin' Wolf's "Moanin' At Midnight" b/w "How Many More Years" on August 15, 1951; Wolf also recorded sides for RPM, with Ike Turner, in late 1951 and early 1952. Chess eventually won the war over the singer, and Wolf settled in Chicago, Illinois c. 1953. arriving in Chicago, he assembled a new band, recruiting Chicagoan Jody Williams from Memphis Slim's band as his first guitarist. Within a year Wolf enticed guitarist Hubert Sumlin to leave Memphis and join him in Chicago; Sumlin's terse, curlicued solos perfectly complemented Burnett's huge voice and surprisingly subtle phrasing. Although the line-up of Wolf's band would change regularly over the years, employing many different guitarists both on recordings and in live performance including Willie Johnson, Jody Williams, Lee Cooper, L.D. McGhee, Otis "Big Smokey" Smothers, his brother Little Smokey Smothers, Jimmy Rogers, Freddie "Abu Talib" Robinson, and Buddy Guy, among others, with the exception of a couple of brief absences in the late '50s Sumlin remained a member of the band for the rest of Wolf's career, and is the guitarist most often associated with the Chicago Howlin' Wolf sound. In the 1950s Wolf had four songs that qualified as "hits" on the Billboard national R&B charts: "How Many More Years", his first and biggest hit, made it to #4 in 1951; its flip side, "Moanin' at Midnight", made it to #10 the same year; "Smokestack Lightning" charted for three weeks in 1956, peaking at #8; and "I Asked For Water (She Gave Me Gasoline)" appeared on the charts for one week in 1956, in the #8 position. In 1959, Wolf's first album, Moanin' in the Moonlight, a compilation of previously released singles, was released. His 1962 LP Howlin' Wolf, which featured contributions from Willie Dixon, Jimmy Rogers and Sam Lay among others, is a famous and influential blues album, often referred to as "The Rocking Chair album" because of its cover illustration depicting an acoustic guitar leaning against a rocking chair. This album contained "Wang Dang Doodle", "Goin' Down Slow", "Spoonful", and "Little Red Rooster" (titled "The Red Rooster" on this album), songs which found their way into the repertoires of British and American bands infatuated with Chicago blues. In 1964 he toured Europe as part of the American Folk Blues Festival tour produced by German promoters Horst Lippmann and Fritz Rau. In 1965 he appeared on the television show Shindig at the insistence of The Rolling Stones, who were scheduled to appear on the same program and who had covered "Little Red Rooster" on an early album. He was often backed on records by bassist and songwriter Willie Dixon who is credited with such Howlin' Wolf standards as "Spoonful", "I Ain't Superstitious", "Little Red Rooster", "Back Door Man", "Evil", "Wang Dang Doodle" (later recorded by Koko Taylor), and others. In September 1967, he joined forces with Bo Diddley and Muddy Waters for The Super Super Blues Band album of Chess blues standards, including "The Red Rooster" and "Spoonful". In May 1970, Howlin' Wolf, his long-time guitarist Hubert Sumlin, and the young Chicago blues harmonica player Jeff Carp traveled to London along with Chess Records producer Norman Dayron to record the Howlin' Wolf London Sessions LP, accompanied by British blues/rock musicians Eric Clapton, Steve Winwood, Ian Stewart, Bill Wyman, Charlie Watts and others. He recorded his last album for Chess, The Back Door Wolf, in 1973. Unlike many other blues musicians, after he left his impoverished childhood to begin a musical career, Howlin' Wolf was always financially successful. Having already achieved a measure of success in Memphis, he described himself as "the onliest one to drive himself up from the Delta" to Chicago, which he did, in his own car on the Blues Highway and with four thousand dollars in his pocket, a rare distinction for a black blues man of the time. In his early career, this was the result of his musical popularity and his ability to avoid the pitfalls of alcohol, gambling and the various dangers inherent in what are vaguely described as "loose women", to which so many of his peers fell prey. Though functionally illiterate into his 40s, Burnett eventually returned to school, first to earn a G.E.D., and later to study accounting and other business courses aimed to help his business career. Wolf met his future wife, Lillie, when she attended one of his performances in a Chicago club. She and her family were urban and educated, and not involved in what was generally seen as the unsavory world of blues musicians. Nonetheless, immediately attracted when he saw her in the audience as Wolf says he was, he pursued her and won her over. According to those who knew them, the couple remained deeply in love until his death. Together they raised Bettye and Barbara, Lillie's two daughters from an earlier relationship. After he married Lillie, who was able to manage his professional finances, Wolf was so financially successful that he was able to offer band members not only a decent salary, but benefits such as health insurance; this in turn enabled him to hire his pick of the available musicians, and keep his band one of the best around. According to his daughters, he was never financially extravagant, for instance driving a Pontiac station wagon rather than a more expensive and flashy car. Wolf's health declined in the late 1960s through 1970s. He suffered several heart attacks and in 1970 his kidneys were severely damaged in an automobile accident. He died in 1976 from complications of kidney disease. 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 favorite band!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Hubert Sumlin memorial tribute - Bob Corritore contributer

On Tuesday, December 13th, the legendary Hubert Sumlin was buried at Washington Memory Gardens in the Chicago suburb of Homewood, IL. He was laid to rest next to the grave site of his late wife per his wishes (thank you Toni Ann Mamary and Sam Burckhardt for making sure this happened). Later that night a major tribute happened at FitzGerald's in Berwyn, IL, a suburb just west of Chicago. Bob Margolin and I were the show coordinators for the night. The old school of Chicago blues came out in full force and were joined by some of the newer faces of traditional blues. Everyone was there to honor Hubert. The house band was Bob Margolin, Little Frank, Bob Stroger, Kenny Smith and Jimmy Mayes, and myself. Some of the many spectacular artists who appeared that night (I will miss some names -sorry in advance) were Eddie Shaw, Gary Martin (Hubert's nephew), Tail Dragger, Mary Lane, Billy Flynn, Scott Dirks, Rodney Brown, Lil' Ed, Tim Betts, Harlan Lee Terson, Jon Hiller, Tom Holland, Sam Lay, Mark Wydra, Mud Morganfield, Big Head Todd, Michael Frank, Billy Branch, Ronnie Baker Brooks, Wayne Baker Brooks, Dan Carelli, Melvin Smith, Jerry Porter, Zora Young, Jimmy Burns, Michael Coleman, Twist Turner, Kenneth Kinsey, Jonn Del Toro Richardson, Harry Garner, Deak Harp, Eddie C. Campbell, Nigel Mack, Brian Carpy, Vince Salerno, Marty Binder, Matt Hill, Richard Rosenblatt, Dave Herrero, Glenn Davis, Uncle Felix Reyes, and others. Some celebrities in the house who chose to just attend and not play were, Jody Williams, Joe Filisko, Sam Burckhardt, Nick Moss, Rick Kreher, Rich Kirch, Dave Katzman, and others. Also in the house was Tom Marker, blues host on WXRT. The place was packed from start to end with nothing but great music and love for Hubert filling the room. At the end of the night after a satisfying but exhausting night of coordination, I sat up talking with my longtime friend Tail Dragger, who's house I was staying at. We reflected on Hubert and the Howlin' Wolf and the blues in general. I flew back to Phoenix the next day. All in all, this night

Friday, June 7, 2013

Omar Dykes Runnin' With The Wolf To Be Released July 9




OMAR DYKES' RUNNIN' WITH THE WOLF
TO BE RELEASED ON JULY 9 VIA MASCOT
LABEL GROUP'S PROVOGUE RECORDS

New York --- The Mascot Label Group has announced a July 9 release date for Omar Dykes' Runnin' With The Wolf via the company's Provogue Records.  Dykes, and his dynamic Austin-based ensemble, has recorded 14 classics immortalized by Howlin' Wolf alongside an original that is the title track.  The band leader shares, "I do my little versions of the songs.  If Howlin’ Wolf was a 500-pound steel anvil, then I’m a little piece of steel wool that fell out of the pack.”
Dykes has been making swaggering, celebratory electric blues rock out of  America’s live music Mecca, Austin, Texas since 1976.  He was born from the Blues rich heritage of McComb, Mississippi in 1950, and formed the band Omar & the Howlers in 1978.  He enjoys a worldwide following that stretches both coast to coast in North America, and across the European continent.  Dykes reveals, "We’ve done good over there (Europe) for about 30 years.  They can listen to Madonna followed by Bo Diddley and it’s just fine. They also like their Howlin’ Wolf over there too.”  This release is the tenth with Provogue, and follows Blues Bag (1991, solo album), Live At Paradiso (1992), Courts of Lulu (1993), Muddy Springs Road (1994), World Wide Open (1995), Southern Style (1996), Swing Land (1998), The Screamin' Cat (2000), and Big Delta (2001).  Following his debut Big Leg Beat (1980), Dykes' breakthrough release was I Told You So in 1994.  Through the years, he has recorded for multiple record companies, and with the release of his 23rd album Runnin' With The Wolf, he returns to the label where he spent the majority of the 1990s.
Dykes and his Howlers have approached the repertoire in a manner that is true to the original compositions, but they steer clear of replicating the tracks.  Raw emotion, and his signature gruff vocals make the songs feel original without losing the essence of what has made them so special for decades.  He offers, "We’re not going to play a Howlin’ Wolf song just like it was played back in the day because we can’t.  Nobody can do it since for one thing, nobody can play the guitar like Hubert Sumlin, who must have come here from a hovercraft. When I first heard Hubert play, I swore he was from outer space because there is no one like him. The same goes for Howlin’ Wolf.  Hubert was the perfect guitarist for Howlin’ Wolf."  Dykes continues, “My intent was not to copy the songs but to stay close to the spirit.  I tried to modernize the songs. I didn’t want to do what some guys do, which is poke holes in the speakers and get that exact guitar sound.  Why copy something note for note and follow every little detail, when it’s already available in the original form?  That’s exactly how I feel.  I wanted to have fun with songs that I’ve loved ever since I was a kid.”

Dykes and company nail the sensual rhythm of "Do The Do."  They approached "Wang Dang Doodle" inventively adding a rockabilly guitar line for a twist making it their own.  With "Little Red Rooster," they approached it as a trio.  He offers, "I always loved that song.  It’s been covered to death but how can you not do ‘Red Rooster’ if you’re recording a Howlin’ Wolf album. That was song number one for me. I didn’t take it too far away. I just thought it would be cool to try it as a three-piece. It worked going spare. I had so much fun with it.”
Fun is an apt adjective to describe the project. It’s certainly a labor of love for Dykes, who doesn’t have to record a covers disc. The burly charismatic figure has already made a Jimmy Reed record, but he’s not an interpreter first and foremost.  The prolific Dykes, who sounds like no other singer, has plenty of original material in the can. But he chose not to go in that direction, and opted to honor one of his heroes.  He states, "I still have songs.  I’ll have them out sooner or later. I’ll do my own stuff anyway and this is just something on the side.  I did Jimmy Reed, who I  love and adore. Now it’s time for Howlin’ Wolf.  There was never anyone like him.”

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

I Wanna Boogie - Jimmy Anderson

The son of sharecroppers, Jimmy Anderson was born in 1934 and began playing harmonica at the age of 8. He mastered the instrument with ease, entertaining customers at a friends snowball wagon. “That’s how I started off. There was blues in Natchez at the Cross Key Club, that’s about it,” he said. “No big names travelled through but they did have a band by the name of Earl Lee. They had horns, and played mostly jazz and blues together. “Then I was inspired by Jimmy Reed. I tried to sound like him. I learned the low parts of the harmonica and the ‘squeal’ as they call it. “ Back then we didn’t have TV and the local radio didn’t play the blues. At night I would listen to WDIA out of Memphis and they would play all the old blues by Smokey Hogg, Muddy Waters, Lightnin’Slim, Howlin’Wolf, all sorts of music like that. “We’d get around the radio just like the kids do around the TV today. There was no electricity and the radio was battery operated” Jimmy Anderson moved to Baton Rouge at the age of 25 to find employment. He found work with soft drink companies. He later put together a band, Jimmy Anderson and the Joy Jumpers, with two guitar players, a drummer and Jimmy would sing and play the harmonica. Associating with blues legend such as Lightnin’Slim, Silas Hogan and Slim Harpo, the band recorded their first record, I wanna boogie, in early 1962 with their second, Naggin’, coming at the end of the year on the Crowley music label of Baton Rouge. Naggin’ made it to Europe where it gained fame and allow Jimmy Anderson to participate in blues tours in Austria, Holland and London. Jimmy recorded a total of 15 records between 1962 and 1964 before disputes with his label over royalties left a bitter taste on his appetite for the music business. He still performed with other blues acts of the area for the next seven years or so returning to Natchez. Here he became a policeman and later a disc jockey. “I wanted a man for myself so I played the song Soul Man as my intro and I called myself Soul Man Lee. “ Jimmy left WANT in the early 1980s due to disputes with the stations program directors. Working in radio for the next 10 years , he found his way to Vidalia’s KVLA which he left in 1991 following the death of his mother. Later in that year he returned to Europe with the Mojo Blues Band to perform in Austria and England. In 1997 Jimmy suffered a stroke that paralyzed the right side of his body, but this has ceased stop him. He’s still performing around Natchez. 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 favorite band!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Blueberry Hill - Henry Gray

Louisiana-based pianist and singer Henry Gray has a career in American roots music that goes back more than 60 years. Gray was born January 19, 1925, in Kenner, LA, now a suburb of New Orleans. He grew up in Alsen, LA, a few miles north of Baton Rouge. Henry began playing piano as an eight-year-old, and he learned from the radio, recordings, and Mrs. White, an elderly woman in his neighborhood. As a youngster, he began playing piano and organ in the local church, and his family eventually got a piano for the house. While blues playing was not allowed in his parents' home, Henry was encouraged to play blues at Mrs. White's house, and by the time he was 16 he was asked to play at a club near the family home in Alsen. After he told his father, his father insisted on going with him, and once he saw that little Henry made decent money playing blues, he had no ethical or moral problems with his son playing blues piano. After a stint in the Army in the South Pacific in World War II, Henry relocated to Chicago where he had relatives. After arriving in Chicago in 1946, Gray began hanging out in the bustling postwar club scene there, checking out the Windy City's best piano players. One day while he was sitting in at a club, he caught the attention of Big Maceo Merriweather, then a big fish in a small pond of Chicago piano players. Merriweather kindly took Gray under his wing and showed him around the city's blues clubs, and he got to know stars of the scene, including Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf. In 1956 Wolf asked Henry to join his band. Gray quickly accepted the offer and stayed on as Wolf's primary piano player until 1968. Gray also became a session player for other recordings made by Chess Records, and over the years he has recorded with many icons of the blues. In addition to Wolf, Gray has recorded or performed with Robert Lockwood Jr., Billy Boy Arnold, Muddy Waters, Johnny Shines, Hubert Sumlin, Lazy Lester, Little Walter Jacobs, Otis Rush, Buddy Guy, James Cotton, Little Milton Campbell, Jimmy Rogers, Jimmy Reed, and Koko Taylor, among others. Although Howlin' Wolf did not pass away until 1976, Gray left Wolf's band in 1968, following the death of his father, and returned to Alsen to assist his mother with the family fish market business. Gray worked with the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board as a roofer for the next 15 years. A Tribute to Howlin' Wolf In the past 30 years, since he's been back in Louisiana, Gray has performed at nearly every New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival as well as other prestigious gatherings, including the Montreal Jazz Festival, the Chicago Blues Festival, and the San Francisco Blues Festival. In 1999 he was nominated for a Grammy for his playing on the Tribute to Howlin' Wolf album released by the Cleveland-based Telarc label, and in 1998 he was handpicked by Mick Jagger himself to play Jagger's 55th birthday soiree in Paris, along with a few other noted blues musicians. Having spent so much of his life as a sideman, Gray's recordings under his own name were few and far between, but that all began to change in the 1990s. Gray's recordings include Lucky Man for Blind Pig in 1988; Louisiana Swamp Blues, Vol. 2 for Wolf Records in 1990; Watch Yourself in 2001 for Lucky Cat; Henry Gray Plays Chicago Blues for Hightone Records in 2001; and the Henry Gray and the Cats CD and DVD sets for the Lucky Cat label in 2004. 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 favorite band!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Henry Gray & Tail Dragger with Bob Corritore's Rhythm Room All-Stars


JAMES YANCY JONES, known as THE TAIL DRAGGER, is a long-time disciple of Howlin' Wolf; in fact, the Wolf gave James the moniker "Tail Dragger" emanating from one of the Wolf's now-classic songs. The Tail Dragger followed Wolf from club- to-club, watching and getting pointers from the larger-then-life Howlin' Wolf for more than 20 years. The Wolf allowed

"The Dragger" to perform his blues while Wolf took a break on weekend shows. Soon "The Dragger" was playing his own numerous club dates on the West and South Sides of Chicago.

TAIL DRAGGER is from Altheimer, Arkansas and during his formative years he saw Sonny Boy Williamson and Boyd Gilmore perform at house parties and country suppers. Dragger soon heard the records of Jimmy Reed, Muddy Waters and Elmore James and his musical tastes were set in stone.

Tail Dragger remains intensely loyal to his early influences. The Tail Dragger, by his own admission, sings only lowdown blues. "Lowdown blues is all I like...All I feel...and I sing what I feel," flatly states The Dragger. "Its's like I get into a trance when I sing the blues, I forget about everything else. Nothing else matters," concludes The Tail Dragger.
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Monday, August 8, 2016

Heralded Austin Musician Johnny Nicholas Brings a Breath of "Fresh Air" with New Blues/Roots CD Coming September 2






Heralded Austin Musician Johnny Nicholas Brings a Breath of Fresh Air with New Blues/Roots CD Coming September 2


AUSTIN, TX – Acclaimed roots musician Johnny Nicholas has announced a September 2 release date for his new CD, Fresh Air, which showcases his multiple talents on various guitars and soulful vocals for an album surely to be one of the best musical revelations of the year.


Watch the Johnny Nicholas video that includes musical excerpts from the Fresh Air album:





Fresh Air was produced by Bruce Hughes and recorded at Arlyn Studios in Austin. Featuring an all-star cast that includes Scrappy Jud Newcomb (guitars, mandolin, mandocello), John Chipman (drums, percussion, vocals) and Bruce Hughes (bass, vocals, percussion), plus a guest list that includes Cindy Cashdollar (lap steel and additional guitars), the new CD creates a satisfying statement of true American roots music at its finest and most authentic.
Fresh Air is a collection of stories and melodies that have haunted me for some time,” says Johnny Nicholas. “There are some different styles here but all of this is the blues as I know it—as all American music and rock and roll has sprung from the same source. I don’t understand a whole lot of what is going on in the modern world, but I do know I could use a little ‘fresh air.’ I hope you dig these tunes.”

Containing a baker’s-dozen 13 tracks, Fresh Air covers a wide swath of Johnny’s roots – everything from the Delta blues of the album’s opener, “Moonlight Train,” to the Chicago-style city blues of the Howlin’ Wolf classic, “Back Door Man,” along with sojourns into swampy Cajun styles, Americana and everything in between.  The constant throughout all these songs is Johnny’s high-lonesome blues vocal style, lithe harmonica playing and soulful string work on an assortment of guitars. Other than “Back Door Man” and the Sleepy John Estes chestnut, “”Kid Man Blues,” Johnny Nicholas had a hand in writing all of the other songs on Fresh Air.
“Johnny Nicholas is one of the best bluesmen ever, black or white.” – Stephen Bruton. When it comes to Americana roots music and especially the blues, the late, great Stephen Bruton knew what he was talking about. His description of his long-time friend and musical comrade in arms is succinct and quite a heady compliment, but then, Johnny Nicholas is an amazing talent.
For four decades, Johnny’s consummate musicianship and vocal skills have graced live music scenes across the country and abroad. He has toured, performed and recorded with many true blues and Americana roots music legends, including Mississippi Fred McDowell, Robert Lockwood Jr., Johnny Shines, Big Walter Horton, Roosevelt Sykes, Nathan Abshire, Robert Pete Williams, Eddie Taylor, Hound Dog Taylor, Johnny Young, Houston Stackhouse, and Boogie Woogie Red.
Johnny recorded and toured with Johnny Shines and Snooky Pryor, producing and playing guitar on their W.C. Handy Award-winning album, Back to the Country. He was one of the lead vocalists with Asleep at the Wheel when they won their first of many Grammy Awards. He gave blues guitar icon Ronnie Earl his first gig in the now legendary band, Guitar Johnny and the Rhythm Rockers. He has also performed with the likes of Howlin’ Wolf, B.B. King, Muddy Waters, Bonnie Rait, Eric Clapton, Pops and Mavis Staples, Delbert McClinton, Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Marcia Ball and Jimmie Vaughan, among many others. He can wow a festival crowd of thousands or a small room of devotees.
Born in Rhode Island, Johnny discovered the blues at an early age, grooving to the great R&B that was blasting from the airwaves in the late ‘50s and early ‘60s—Jimmy Reed, Lightnin’ Slim, Lloyd Price, Slim Harpo, Larry Williams, Little Walter, Ray Charles and Howlin’ Wolf were all big blips on this impressionable young man’s radar screen. Like fellow Greek-American Johnny Otis had a generation earlier, this Johnny easily made the leap into the soulful world of the blues. He was high school friends with Duke Robillard and the two of them shared licks and records after school, as well as each leading their own band (Duke’s was called the Variations and Johnny’s was called the Vikings).
In 1966, he hopped the train to New York City to see his idol, Howlin’ Wolf. He ended up hanging with Wolf’s band at the Albert Hotel by day (where Wolf, the Muddy Waters band and Otis Spann were all staying), and at Ungano’s nightclub by night, where the Wolf was holding musical court while on a two week prowl of the Big Apple. This experience cemented his love of the blues while providing inspiration and a gateway to friendships and musical adventures that would help mold a successful career, and still smolder in this talented and restless soul
In 1980, Johnny decided to take time off from touring in order to raise a family. He married Brenda Schlaudt, one of the co-founders of Antone’s night club; and played music at (and helped manage) what became a Texas culinary and music legend: Hill Top CafĂ© (housed in a former 1920s-era gas station - “inconveniently located in the middle of nowhere”) near Cherry Spring, not far from Austin. Hill Top’s eclectic menu includes items that reflect his and Brenda’s Greek, Cajun and Texas influences.   
After fathering three sons, Nicholas stepped up his music ventures, highlighted by Back to the Country in 1991.  Since then, he has released several more albums and returned to a more rigorous touring, songwriting and performance schedule.
Johnny Nicholas will support the release of Fresh Air with a series of dates in the Texas area, as well as showcase venues and festival dates around the country.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Blues Hall of Fame Inductees announced: Mavis Staples, Johnny Copeland, Henry Gray, Latimore and more









MAVIS STAPLES, MAGIC SLIM, JOHNNY COPELAND,
HENRY GRAY AND LATIMORE
ARE AMONG THE NEWEST MEMBERS
OF THE BLUES HALL OF FAME 
Six performers, one album, five singles, one book and one magazine founder
will be inducted at the Blues Foundation’s 38th Annual
Induction Ceremony on May 10



MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Blues Foundation welcomes the 38th class of Blues Hall of Fame inductees in a ceremony taking place on May 10, 2017. This year’s 14 richly deserving honorees represent all five of the Hall of Fame’s categories: Performers, Non-Performing Individuals, Classic of Blues Literature, Classic of Blues Recording (Song) and Classic of Blues Recording (Album).
The six performers chosen for induction include two distinctive vocalists, Mavis Staples and Latimore; a pair of legendary guitarists, Magic Slim and Johnny Copeland; and longtime Howlin’ Wolf sidemen guitarist Willie Johnson and piano-man Henry Gray. They will join the more than 125 performers who already are Hall of Fame members. The year’s non-performer selection is Living Blues Magazine co-founder and radio show host Amy van Singel, who passed away in Sept. 2016. 
The Classic of Blues Literature pick is the rightfully recognized Father of the Blues, W.C. Handy’s 1941 memorable autobiography. John Lee Hooker was among the Hall’s first inductees in 1980 and now his 1966 Chess album Real Folk Blues will enter the Hall of Fame too in the Classic of Blues Recording Album category. The quintet of Classic of Blues Recording songs includes Bo Diddley’s signature tune “Bo Diddley,” Tommy Tucker’s much covered classic “Hi Heel Sneakers,” the Albert King hit “I’ll Play the Blues For You,” Son House’s “Preachin’ the Blues” and “I Ain’t Superstitious,” which features 2017 inductee Henry Gray playing on Howlin’ Wolf’s well-known 1961 recording. 
The Blues Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony takes place Wednesday, May 10 at Memphis’ Halloran Centre for the Performing Arts and Education. Hosted by the Blues Foundation, the evening begins at 5:30 p.m. with a Cocktail Reception, followed by the Induction Ceremony at 6:30 pm. Tickets for this open-to-the-public ceremony are $100 per seat and can be purchased online at: http://bit.ly/2kVoDRG
More festivities occur the following day, May 11, with the Blues Foundation’s Blues Music Awards. Celebrating the past year’s best in blues recordings and performances, this event will be held at the Memphis Cook Convention Center. A pre-ceremony party commences at 5:30 p.m., while the Awards Show, including a seated dinner and featuring performances by many of the nominees, starts at 7 pm. Individual tickets and tables may be purchased for $150 per seat at the same link as above. For more information, contact Barbara Newman, President & CEO; barbara@blues.org; (901) 527-2583, Ext. 12 
ABOUT THE INDUCTEES:
Performers
Henry Gray, who played piano in the Howlin’ Wolf band and other Chicago blues groups before returning to his native Louisiana in 1968, has rarely been in the spotlight, but has steadily built an impressive resume entertaining audiences around the world with his blues-drenched piano pounding. Gray, born in 1925, is still performing regularly six decades after his first recording sessions in Chicago.
Willie Johnson (1923-1995) recorded only a few songs on his own, but as a sideman his storming barrage of distortion and incendiary guitar licks in the 1950s, especially on the early records of Howlin’ Wolf, earned him a lasting reputation as a groundbreaking commando in the annals of electric guitar playing. Mentored by Wolf in their Mississippi days, Johnson played in Wolf’s band in the South and in Chicago, and recorded for Sun Records in 1955.
Mavis Staples, one of America’s premier singers of gospel and soul music, has expanded her musical mastery with her performances in more blues-based settings in recent years. The blues is nothing new to the Staples family, as Mavis’ father and founder of the Staple Singers, Roebuck “Pop” Staples, was a devotee of Delta blues master Charley Patton back in Mississippi. Mavis, born in Chicago in 1939, remains on her lifelong mission to inspire and uplift her listeners no matter what musical genre she employs.
Johnny Copeland (1937-1997) was one of a bevy of blazing guitar slingers to emerge from the vibrant Third Ward of Houston, Texas, and one of the city’s most powerful singers as well.  Establishing himself with a series of blues and soul singles beginning in 1958, he attained national prominence in the 1980s recording blues albums for Rounder Records. His daughter Shemekia has followed in his footsteps by winning multiple Blues Music Awards.
Magic Slim led one of the most relentless, hard-driving bands in Chicago blues history for several decades until his death in 2013. Born Morris Holt in Mississippi in 1937, he earned his nickname from his friend and fellow blues guitar ace Magic Sam. Slim was also known for possessing perhaps the largest repertoire of any blues artist, always able to pick up another song from the radio or the jukebox, enabling him to record more than 30 albums and garner dozens of Blues Music Awards nominations. His son Shawn “Lil Slim” Holt is ably carrying on the family blues tradition.
Latimore, the abbreviated stage name of singer, keyboardist and a songwriter Benny Lattimore, has cut a dashing figure on the Southern soul circuit ever since he began touring in the 1970s on the strength of hits such as “Stormy Monday” and his best-known original, “Let’s Straighten It Out.”  Latimore, who was born in Tennessee in 1939 but has called Florida home since the 1960s, is now a distinguished and still spirited love philosopher and elder statesman of the scene.
Individuals: Business, Production, Media or Academic
Amy van Singel, known to blues radio audiences as “Atomic Mama,” was a cofounder of Living Blues magazine in Chicago in 1970. She and her former husband Jim O'Neal published the magazine from their home in Chicago until they transferred the publication to the University of Mississippi in 1983. Her radio career began at Northwestern University and included stints at stations in Chicago, Mississippi, Memphis, Alaska and Maine. Amy died in her sleep at her home in Maine on Sept. 19, 2016, at the age at 66.
Classics of Blues Literature
Father of the Blues by W.C. Handy is a monumental opus that is indispensable to the study of American musical history. Published in 1941, the book traces Handy’s background as a trained orchestra leader, his discovery of the blues and the struggles he endured to become a successful music publisher. It is often cited as a primary resource on the earliest years of blues history. No book is more deserving of designation as a Classic of Blues Literature.
Classics of Blues Recording: Albums
The 1966 John Lee Hooker album Real Folk Blues is the latest of several Chess Records’ Real Folk Blues albums to be elected to the Blues Hall of Fame. Whereas the rest of the LPs in the series by Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf and others were compilations of older recordings, the Hooker album was newly recorded in May of 1966 in Chicago. Hooker was his inimitable and spontaneous self, reworking some of his older songs and improvising new ones, accompanied by his Detroit guitarist Eddie Burns and Chicago sidemen Lafayette Leake and S.P. Leary.
Classics of Blues Recording: Singles
“Bo Diddley” was not only the 1955 hit record that made Ellas McDaniel famous — it also gave him his professional name. The famed “Bo Diddley beat,” an energized update of the old “Hambone” rhythm, rocked the world, and Bo continued to create classics for Checker Records in Chicago with his innovative blend of blues and rock ’n’ roll.
“Hi-Heel Sneakers” by Tommy Tucker was the last blues record from the mighty Chess Records catalogue to hit No. 1 on the charts. Recorded in New York in 1963, the single on Chess’ Checker subsidiary label topped the Cash Box magazine R&B charts in 1964. Tucker’s enticement to “put on your red dress” and hi-heel sneakers has resounded on countless bandstands ever since.
“I Ain’t Superstitious,” an ominous Willie Dixon composition recorded by Howlin’ Wolf in 1961, is best known to rock audiences through the Jeff Beck Group’s 1968 cover version featuring Rod Stewart on vocals. On the original session for Chess Records in Chicago, Wolf’s band included Hubert Sumlin, Jimmy Rogers, Sam Lay and 2017 Blues Hall of Fame inductee Henry Gray.
“I’ll Play the Blues for You,” recorded by Albert King in Memphis for the Stax label in 1971, was written by Jerry Beach, a longtime fixture on the Shreveport, Louisiana, music scene who died in 2016. In Beach’s lyrics, sung with warmth and tenderness by King, the blues becomes a source of soothing and comfort. King’s 45 spent eight weeks on Billboard magazine’s Best Selling Soul Singles chart in 1972 
“Preachin’ the Blues,” a two-part single by Son House on the Paramount label from 1930, is a prime example not only of House’s intensity as a Delta blues singer and guitarist but also of his lifelong inner conflict between the lure of the blues life and devotion to the church. House, who did preach in church at times, also sang of the hypocrisy he saw in religion with lyrics such as “I’m gonna be a Baptist preacher and I sure won’t have to work.”

About the Blues Hall of Fame Museum: Since opening in May of 2015, the Blues Hall of Fame Museum has become a must-see destination for blues aficionados and casual fans alike. Through its ten permanent galleries and the Upstairs Legendary Rhythm and Blues Cruise Gallery’s temporary exhibit space, the museum exposes, educates, and entertains visitors, providing them a unique way to explore blues culture and history, while also highlighting its 400 inductees. Visitors can use interactive touchscreens to access databases that allow them to hear music, watch videos and read stories about every museum’s inductees. Guests can also view one-of-a-kind memorabilia, from musical instruments and tour attire to awards and artwork.
The 2017 Hall of Fame class will be represented in the special exhibit galleries beginning in early May. Located at 421 S. Main Street, Memphis, the museum is open seven days a week (10 a.m.-5 p.m. Mon.-Sat., 1-5 p.m. Sun.). Admission is $10 per person, with children and Blues Foundation members free. The museum is also available for private parties and events after hours. For more information, call 901-527-2583.
About the Blues Foundation: This world-renowned, Memphis-based organization holds a mission to preserve blues heritage, celebrate blues recording and performance, expand worldwide awareness of the blues, and ensure the future of this uniquely American art form. Founded in 1980, The Blues Foundation has approximately 4,000 individual members and 200 affiliated blues societies representing another 50,000 fans and professionals around the world. Its signature honors and events — the Blues Music Awards, International Blues Challenge, and Keeping the Blues Alive Awards — make it the international hub of blues music. Its HART Fund provides the blues community with medical assistance for musicians in need, while Blues in the Schools programs and Generation Blues Scholarships expose new generations to blues music. Throughout the year, the Foundation staff serves the global blues community with answers, information, and news.

   

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Made Up Midnight - Jimmy Vaughan Lazy Lester John Nicholas


When it comes to Americana Roots Music and especially the Blues, the late great Stephen Bruton knew what he was talking about. Those who knew him knew that he always got to the point. His description of his long time friend and musical comrade in arms is succinct and quite a heady compliment, but then, Johnny Nicholas is an amazing talent.

For four decades Johnny’s consummate musicianship and vocal skills have graced live music scenes across the country and abroad. He has toured, performed and recorded with many true blues and Americana Roots Music legends including:

Mississippi Fred McDowell, Robert Lockwood Jr., Johnny Shines, Big Walter Horton, Roosevelt Sykes, Nathan Abshire, Robert Pete Williams, Eddie Taylor, Billy Boy Arnold, Hound Dog Taylor, Johnny Young, Houston Stackhouse, and Boogie Woogie Red.

He recorded and toured with Johnny Shines and Snooky Pryor, producing and playing guitar on their W.C. Handy Award-winning album Back to the Country. He was a lead vocalist and multi-instrumentalist with Asleep at the Wheel when they won their first of many Grammy Awards.

He gave Blues Guitar Icon Ronnie Earl his first gig in the now legendary band Guitar Johnny and the Rhythm Rockers.

He has also shared the stage and performed with the likes of Howlin Wolf, BB King, Muddy Waters, Bonnie Rait, Eric Clapton, Pops and Mavis Staples, Delbert McClinton, Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard,and Jimmie Vaughan among many others.

He can wow a festival crowd of thousands or a small room of devotees. There are mysteries within this history, but remember that true history is written in the uncharted depths of a passionate spirit striving to fathom the mysteries, the pain and the joy of life and love. Here’s what you need to know about Johnny Nicholas—the rest and the best is all in his music.

Johnny discovered the blues at an early age, grooving to the great R&B that was blasting from the airwaves in the late 50’s and early 60’s—Jimmy Reed, Lightnin Slim, Slim Harpo, Lloyd Price, Larry Williams, Little Walter, Ray Charles and The Howling Wolf were all Big Blips on this impressionable young man’s radar screen. Like fellow Greek-American Johnny Otis had a generation earlier, this Johnny easily made the leap into the soulful world of the Blues, a music very similar in feeling and expression to the Rembetika music he heard as a child in the Greek community.

In 1966, he hopped the train to New York City to see his idol the Wolf. He ended up hanging with Wolf’s band at the Albert Hotel by day (where Wolf’s band AND Muddy’s band and Otis Spann were all staying) and at Ungano’s nightclub by night where the Wolf was holding musical court while on a two week prowl of the Big Apple. This experience cemented his love of the blues while providing inspiration and a gateway to friendships and musical adventures that would help mold a successful career and still smolder in this talented and restless soul. The common thread between all these influences is that of a true storyteller and troubadour, a living connection to the roots of American music that started in the Mississippi Delta and continues to flow down the river of traditional and contemporary sounds that emanate from Johnny Nicholas.
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Friday, January 18, 2013

Nora Jean Bruso

If I had to describe Nora Jean Wallace in one word, that would be an easy task: Nora Jean is all about love. When asked why she sings the blues, she used the word love three times … in two sentences! “I love to share the love God put in me … I love to express my story in [the] songs of my life.” And when asked why she recorded Good Blues, her new CD, there was that word again: “I put in my songs what is inside of me: love.” And while Nora Jean made it easy for me to sum her up in one word, I’m grateful that I get to use a few more of them here to share her fascinating life story with you. Once you walk the path she’s traveled in this world, you’ll know exactly where her blues come from, not to mention all that love. You could say that Nora Jean Wallace was born to sing the blues. The seventh child of a Mississippi sharecropper, she grew up in the Delta with her 15 brothers and sisters on the 11,000-acre Equen Plantation, located halfway between Clarksdale and Greenwood, the town where she was born. Working the merciless cotton fields during the week with her family, Nora Jean looked forward to Friday and Saturday nights, when a different kind of picking prevailed. Her grandmother owned the local juke joint, and her father, Bobby Lee Wallace, and her uncle, Henry “Son” Wallace, both accomplished blues performers, would gather their families there for some much needed, soul-stirring music therapy every weekend. Once the kids were put to bed for the night, how the good times would roll! And while the adults in the family were thus enjoying their well-earned down time, Nora and her siblings were secretly doing the same, sneaking out of bed to peek through the keyhole and eavesdrop on the grownups and the night’s entertainment. “Down to Miss Mae’s Juke Joint,” written and recorded for her second CD, Going Back to Mississippi, is Nora’s loving tribute to that special place and time in her life. In addition to the blues classics of Howlin’ Wolf that she overheard through that keyhole, Nora Jean was also exposed to the best of gospel music as her mother, Ida Lee Wallace, serenaded the family with the songs of Mahalia Jackson, The Staples Singers, The Dixie Hummingbirds, Albertina Walker, Shirley Caesar, and The Mighty Clouds of Joy. With so much music in her life, it was almost inevitable that Nora Jean would find her own voice in the family. She says that the first song she ever sang was “Howlin’ for My Darling”; she was four or five years old at the time. A fast learner, she turned professional at the age of six! It seems that one of her eleven brothers bragged to two of his friends that his sister could really sing. To prove his point, he brought them into her room for an impromptu jam. Nora tore it up with some Howlin’ Wolf she had heard during her father’s performances down at Miss Mae’s, and each of the boys gave her a nickel. Voila! Her first paying gig! Despite that early success, it wasn’t until Nora Jean won a local high school talent competition that she really began to believe in the possibility of a professional singing career. By this time, her early education in the classic blues of Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, Big Mama Thornton, John Lee Hooker, and Robert Johnson was being supplemented by the soul artists she was hearing on the radio: James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight, and Ray Charles all contributed new flavors to Nora Jean’s simmering musical gumbo. But like so many other blues musicians before her, Nora did not actually get her professional start in music until she left the deep South and headed to the West Side of Chicago, the blues capital of the world. There, one fateful night in 1976, after her Aunt Rose had heard her singing at home and brought her along to several clubs she was promoting at the time, Nora Jean sat in with Scottie and the Oasis at the Majestic. And just like that, her dream of a professional singing career became reality. She was invited to join the band and spent several years with them until Scottie’s unfortunate passing. During this time many local Chicago musicians, most notably Mary Lane and Joe Barr, encouraged Nora and taught her the fine points of her craft. Photo Credit: Purely DigitalNora's big break came in 1985, when Jimmy Dawkins saw her performing at a local Chicago club and hired her on the spot. For the next seven years, she toured the world and recorded with Jimmy and his band. During this period she appeared on two of Jimmy's CDs, Feel the Blues and Can't Shake These Blues, released her own self-penned single, "Untrue Lover," and worked on developing her budding songwriting skills. While touring Europe, Canada, and the United States, Nora also refined her performing skills and acquired an international fan base. She appeared at many major festivals, including the King Biscuit Blues Festival in Helena, Arkansas, and was featured on the front page of the Chicago Tribune following her 1989 performance at the Chicago Blues Festival. In addition to her appearances with Jimmy Dawkins, Nora also sang occasionally with other major blues acts and remembers with special fondness her shows with Willie Kent and his band. By 1991 Nora felt that the demands of life on the road were taking a toll on her family life, and she courageously walked away from her promising professional career to devote herself to raising her two sons. No longer singing the blues, Nora found musical release in her other early musical passion: a devout Christian, she sang gospel in church every week, praising God for the love He had put in her heart and thanking Him for the friendships that continued to bless her life. Among those friendships were many of those she had made in the blues community. By the late 90s, through the support of these loyal friends, Nora was persuaded to make a limited return to performing, taking on local gigs to fulfill her undeniable love of the blues. She sang occasionally with Johnny Drummer at Lee’s Unleaded Blues and then formed her own band, Nora Jean and the Fellas. For the next few years they performed in local Chicago clubs, but Nora remained conflicted about returning full time to life in the fast lane of the blues highway. More than once she retreated from the music scene in frustration at having to begin her career again. In 2001 a phone call from close friend Billy Flynn precipitated a series of events that would put an end to all doubts and bring Nora back to the blues for good. Billy asked Nora to sing lead and background vocals on four tracks for his new CD, Blues and Love. So moving was the experience of being in the studio and recording again that Nora realized once and for all that this was her gift, her passion, her destiny. And she committed to embracing that destiny: come fame or obscurity, wealth or poverty, she was born to be a blues singer, and sing the blues she would. In 2002, reflecting her determination to start anew, Nora moved to La Porte, Indiana, where she found that the town’s most famous resident was none other than legendary blues piano player Pinetop Perkins, a member of the great Muddy Waters Band. (In 2008, recording under her married name at the time, Nora Jean Bruso, she would join Eric Clapton, B.B. King, and a host of other luminaries in the blues world for the recording of Pinetop’s penultimate recording, Pinetop Perkins and Friends. And a proud friend she was, indeed. Pinetop regularly joined Nora for her local shows at Buck’s Workingman’s Pub. La Porte will never see the likes of those shows again! RIP, Pinetop.) Having relocated and recommitted to her career, Nora called on friend and mentor Jimmy Dawkins for advice. Jimmy’s response was to invite her to perform with him at the 2002 Chicago Blues Festival. Although she sang only two songs during that appearance, the Chicago Sun-Times called the songs “show-stopping” and proclaimed Nora “up-and-coming” in the blues world. That same year, the Black History Association in Chicago presented her a “Keeping the Blues Alive” citation for her comeback. After eleven years out of the spotlight, Nora Jean was once again taking her rightful place center stage. In October of 2002, Nora entered the recording studio of her old friend Jerry Soto with the same band that had backed her just four months earlier at the Chicago Blues Festival. Only three lineup changes were made: Nora added an old friend, the legendary Willie Kent, on bass; a regular member of her own band, Brian Lupo, on guitar; and (in the absence of Jimmy Dawkins, who had undergone emergency arm surgery) James Wheeler, also on guitar. Released in 2003, the resulting CD, Nora Jean Bruso Sings the Blues, was awarded a rare and coveted five-star rating from Big City Blues and received critical acclaim from radio programmers throughout North America, appearing on the Living Blues charts and XM Radio play lists for many months. 2003 proved to be a breakthrough year for Nora. On the strength of her debut CD, she made a triumphal return to the stage at the Chicago Blues Festival and did a summer tour of Europe. By the end of the year, she had the pleasure of seeing her CD on everyone’s list of top blues CDs of the year. In 2004 her industry peers endorsed her success by nominating Nora for two W. C. Handy Awards: one for Best New Artist and one for Best Traditional Blues Female Artist of the Year. And the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry named her one of the ten great women in Chicago blues, saying, “There is talk of Nora Jean as the next Queen of the Blues.” Photo Credit: Purely DigitalThe accolades and warm reception of her first CD were particularly gratifying to Nora Jean, who had poured her heart and soul into the recording, intending it as a loving tribute to her musical influences. The four Howlin’ Wolf songs on it were the first songs she ever heard her father sing and were recorded as a gesture of love and respect for him and for her mother. “Can’t Shake These Blues” was a nod to Jimmy Dawkins, and the Magic Sam numbers represented the raw West Side of Chicago sound that was as integral to her music as were her Mississippi roots. “Doin’ the Shout” acknowledged the influence of the one and only Boogie Man, Mr. John Lee Hooker; and the Etta James classic “I’d Rather Go Blind,” so powerfully covered by the magnificent Koko Taylor, afforded Nora the perfect opportunity to express her respect and gratitude to the great ladies of the blues who had paved the path she walks to this day. Nora rounded out the offering with several numbers she knew were fan favorites from her earlier performing days, as well as a reworked version of “Untrue Lover,” the first song she had ever written herself. Nora had previously recorded “Untrue Lover” during her time in the 80s with Jimmy Dawkins. Revealing just how much her songwriting skills had progressed since those days, she was already sitting on fourteen new tunes for an anticipated follow-up to her brilliant debut CD. But the rigors of maintaining a hectic performance schedule while trying to produce and distribute a record proved overwhelming, so it came as great news that Maryland-based roots label Severn Records wanted to sign her to a multi-record deal. Nora spent several months of 2004 in the Severn studios, recording Going Back to Mississippi, a gritty chronicle of her life growing up on the Equen Plantation; every lyric on the CD came straight from her heart. The “baby” she longed to return to in the title cut was the blues, and “What I Been Through” told you everything you needed to know and more about the woman’s spirit and determination. Nora debuted several cuts from the album with her band on the main stage at the Chicago Blues Festival in June and at the Pocono Blues Festival in July. Upon its release in September, Going Back to Mississippi came out strong, debuting at number five on the Living Blues radio charts, and went all the way to number one on XM Radio. In support of her sophomore effort, Nora spent most of 2005 on the festival circuit, relentlessly touring the U.S. and Canada; highlights included the Cape May Jazz and Pocono Blues festivals. By 2006 circumstances in Nora Jean’s personal life once again threatened to derail her phenomenal comeback, but the blues would not be denied. Armed with unshakeable faith, she defiantly stared down the devil, never blinking once. Working two jobs while raising a grandchild and performing whenever and wherever she could, there were definitely times when she was not just singing the blues … she was living them. Yet every year between 2005 and 2009 Nora Jean was nominated for a Blues Music Award in the Traditional Blues Female Artist of the Year category. Praised by the likes of Koko Taylor, Steady Rollin’ Bob Margolin and Debbie Davies and heralded as the next “Queen of the Blues” by Pocono Blues Director Michael Cloeren and Blues in Britain magazine, Nora Jean Wallace has earned her place in the blues world. Speaking of her first love, she says: The blues is alive and well, and I am proud to be a part of it. I feel privileged to sing the music that is my heritage. The artistic achievements of my ancestors are not only one of their greatest contributions to America, but also one of America’s greatest contributions to the world. The blues is great American music and, God willing, I will be singing it for you for many, many years to come. On any given night you may hear me throw some Tina Turner or Tracy Chapman into my show, depending on the audience. I have even been known to perform a rap song called “Superstar” that my oldest son wrote for me when I have an audience of mainly young people. But I always begin and end with the blues. It is my passion and my calling to try to keep this great music alive. Call it traditional blues, hard blues, old school blues, whatever you like, it is my blues and I love it. There’s that word again … in the world of Nora Jean Wallace, love and the blues go hand in hand. Get yourself out to see her soon, and you’ll see – and hear and feel – exactly what I’m talking about. Donna Johnston 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 favorite band!