Dec. 28, 1999
Koko Taylor took another stab at bettering the Chicago blues club scene with the recent opening of Koko Taylor's Celebrity. The venue is located five blocks south of Buddy Guy's Legends, at 1233 S. Wabash. A recent check of Koko's club schedule revealed that Shirley King, Ron Prince and Tre were scheduled to play.
Blind Pig has released "Muddy Waters The Lost Tapes." The disc, includes previously unreleased performances of some of Muddy's favorite material. An enhanced CD, the disc allows computer users to view a rare video interview, and concert footage of Muddy and his band. The band from the era includes George "Harmonica Smith," Pinetop Perkins, Sammy Lawhorn, Pee Wee Madison, Calvin "Fuzz Jones, and Willie "Big Eyes" Smith. The Pig has also released Pee Wee Crayton's "Early Hour Blues." The disc is a compilation of Crayton's last recordings.
Maxwell Street musician Piano C. Red has released a holiday CD single entitled "Blues After Midnight" on Keyboard Records. Also featured are "Happy Christmas Everybody" and his old classic "Cab Driving Man." The single is available in Chicago at Jazz Record Mart, Tower Records, Jimmy's Records Variety Shop and Barney's Record Shop.
New discs on Telarc Records are "Blues On My Back" by Troy Turner; "Superharps" featuring James Cotton, Billy Branch, Charlie Musselwhite and Sugar Ray Norcia. Coming in late January from Telarc are discs by Sam Lay and Terry Evans.
Evidence recently released a specially priced 60-track, three-disc anthology of country blues entitled "Living Country Blues." The package contains a 48-page booklet with extensive liner notes, as well as 35 photos. Performers include Cephas and Wiggins, Cedell Davis, James "Son" Thomas, Lonnie Pitchford and Othar Turner.
Delmark's new blues releases include "North/South" by Jimmy Johnson; "Chicago Ain't Nothin' But a Blues Band," featuring Eddy Clearwater, Morris Pejoe, Sunnyland Slim and Henry Gray, among others; "Sleepy John Estes In Europe"; "Lonesome Bedroom Blues" by Curtis Jones; "Talkin' 'Bout Chicago" by Syl Johnson; "Night Time Again" by Jimmy Burns; "Boot 'Em Up" by Aaron Moore and "Man's Temptation" by The Rockin' Johnny Band.
Dec. 1, 1999
The music world is mourning the recent deaths of Alvin Cash and Fred Ford.
South Side Chicago soul/blues star Alvin Cash, died Nov. 21 at the age of 60. No cause of death has yet been listed, however, Cash was known to suffer from stomach problems.
He had a hit in 1963 with the dance tune ''It's Twine Time.'' Cash was born in St. Louis, and began his career as a tap dancer. He also performed with his brother in the Step Brothers. He started singing later, performing shows in Chicago with his group Alvin Cash and the Registers.
''It's Twine Time'' earned them appearances on shows hosted by Dick Clark and Ed Sullivan.
In Memphis, Tenn., saxophonist Fred Ford, 69, died on Nov. 26 after a battle with cancer.
Ford was a versatile jazz and rhythm and blues musician who recorded with artists as diverse as B.B. King and Jerry Lee Lewis.
Ford was a fixture on the Memphis music scene and was known for his baritone sax skills. He played on hundreds of sessions, including recordings with Rufus Thomas, Lightnin' Hopkins, Charlie Rich and Junior Parker.
Ford started playing professionally with the Douglass Swingsters Orchestra and the Andrew Chaplin Band in the late 1940s, before graduating from high school.
His most famous recording was the 1952 classic ''Hound Dog'' by Big Mama Thornton. However, on the record, Ford was heard barking instead of playing sax.
Nov. 1, 1999
The music of soul artist Mighty Sam McClain was heard in a somewhat unusual venue the Ally McBeal television show on Fox.
McClain's song, "New Man in Town," was featured in a two-part episode of Ally McBeal on Nov. 15 and Nov. 22.
The song, first heard on McClain's 1998 CD, "Journey," is also included on McClain's latest release, "Soul Survivor The Best of Mighty Sam McClain." The compilation was released by the Audioquest Music label.
McClain recently signed a new deal with Telarc International for the release of his next recording, "Blues From the Soul," which is scheduled for release in April 2000.
McClain's touring plans include dates next year with Weepin' Willie and Little Melvin in Switzerland, Norway and China. In the United States, McClain is booked at the Kalamazoo Blues Festival in Michigan and the Mississippi Valley Blues Festival in Davenport, Iowa.
Oct. 18, 1999
Kofi Burbridge, former member of the Aquarium Rescue Unit, has joined the Derek Trucks Band.
Burbridge will play flute, keyboards, piano and clavinet for his new band.
"I am psyched to have Kofi with us," says Trucks. "I have been after him to be in the band for some time now and he finally caved."
The band will head into the studio later this year to begin work on their follow up to "Out of the Madness." The album is due out in the spring of 2000 on the House of Blues Music Company label.
Sept. 1, 1999
Mississippi bluesman R.L. Burnside is recovering from heart surgery after a successful operation on Sept. 1.
Burnside, 72, "is resting in a Memphis hospital and doing very well," according to a release from his recording label, Fat Possum Records.
Burnside recently cancelled two shows due to shortness of breath and exhaustion. After medical tests, it was determined that Burnside required angioplasty surgery. The procedure went smoothly, according to Fat Possum officials.
Burnside, who was born in Harmontown, Miss., on Nov. 21, 1926, has recorded a number of successful albums for Fat Possum, including his most recent record, "Come On In," which peaked at No. 11 on Billboard magazine's top blues albums in 1998.
Burnside was in the midst of an extensive national tour. There was no information about the future of his remaining scheduled dates.
July 1, 1999
Koko Taylor won her 18th W.C. Handy Blues Award this year, tying her with Chicago guitarist Buddy Guy for the most Handy Awards received in a career.
Taylor won the Handy for traditional blues female artist of the year. The awards were presented at the Orpheum Theatre in Memphis, Tenn., on May 26.
Multiple-award winners this year included B.B. King, Etta James, Keb' Mo and Susan Tedeschi.
Rufus Thomas, Memphis radio pioneer and legendary blues artist, was co-host of the event along with West Coast guitar great Joe Louis Walker. Thomas was the host of the first Handy Award ceremony.
The night featured a performance by Walker in a guitar jam with Scotty Moore, the longtime guitarist for Elvis Presley. The men performed the Elvis favorite "Mystery Train" and a Walker song, "747."
Kenny Wayne Shepherd appeared with rhythm section Double Trouble, playing a medley of Stevie Ray Vaughan songs along with his own originals.
The event was sponsored by The Blues Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to promotion and preservation of the blues. In addition to the Handy Awards, the foundation produces the Lifetime Achievement Award, Blues Hall of Fame, International Blues Talent Competition and the internationally syndicated blues radio program "Beale Street Caravan."
The 20th Annual W.C. Handy Award Winners were:
Blues Entertainer of the Year B.B. King
Blues Band of the Year Rod Piazza and the Mighty Flyers
Contemporary Blues - Male Artist of the Year Keb' Mo'
Contemporary Blues - Female Artist of the Year Susan Tedeschi
Soul/Blues - Male Artist of the Year Bobby "Blue" Bland
Soul/Blues - Female Artist of the Year Etta James
Traditional Blues - Male Artist of the Year Robert Lockwood, Jr.
Traditional Blues - Female Artist of the Year Koko Taylor
Acoustic Blues - Artist of the Year Keb' Mo'
Best New Blues Artist Susan Tedeschi
Blues Artist Deserving Wider Recognition W.C. Clark
Blues Instrumentalist - Guitar Ronnie Earl
Blues Instrumentalist - Harmonica Charlie Musselwhite
Blues Instrumentalist - Keyboards Pinetop Perkins
Blues Instrumentalist - Bass Willie Kent
Blues Instrumentalist - Drums Willie "Big Eyes" Smith
Blues instrumentalist - Other Gatemouth Brown (violin)
Contemporary Blues Album of the Year B.B. King, "Blues on the Bayou"
Soul/Blues Album of Year Etta James, "Life, Love & the Blues"
Traditional Blues Album of the Year Robert Lockwood, Jr., "I Got To Have Me A Woman"
Comeback Blues Album Peter Green, "Robert Johnson Songbook"
Acoustic Blues Album of Year Rory Block, "Confessions of a Blues Singer"
Reissue Album of Year Ruf Records for "Hand Me Down Moonshine" by Luther Allison
Blues Song of the Year "Soon As I Get Paid" by Kevin Moore and John Lewis Parker
April 6, 1999
Blind Pig has issued the CD "Rising Son" by Muddy Waters son, Big Bill Morganfield. The debut disc captures the guitarist Morganfield accompanied by Pinetop Perkins, Willie "Big Eyes" Smith, Bob Margolin and Paul Oscher, all former members of the Muddy Waters Blues Band.
"It was so inspiring playing with these musicians," Morganfield says. "They really brought out the best in me. Those sessions left me with memories I'll never forget."
New on Telarc is the disc "Homesick For the Road," with guitarists Kenny Neal, Debbie Davies and Tab Benoit. Telarc says of the disc: "It is the sound of three talented performers sparked to new heights in an exhilarating collaborative effort. With superb backing from keyboardist Bruce Katz, bassist Rod Carey, and drummer Per Hanson, the work of Benoit, Davies and Neal is sure to inspire a whole new generation of blues fans."
Missisippi Heat Manager Michel Lacocque reports that the band is awaiting the pressing of their newly recorded disc "Handyman," which Lacocque says features Billy Boy Arnold, Carl Weathersby and Zora Young. The disc will hit shelves in the coming weeks.
Evidence has issued a new CD by Howard and The White Boys, entitled "The Big Score." Among the highlights of the 12-track disc is the appearance of Buddy Guy on the lead radio track "I Thank You," a remake of the classic, sixties Sam and Dave song.
There's been a flurry of activity at Delmark once again. The label has issued four discs, among them Tail Dragger's debut, "American People," which features an appearance by Jimmy Dawkins. Also accompanying Howlin' Wolf protege Dragger are Billy Branch, Eddie Shaw, Johnny B. Moore and Rockin' Johnny. Among the disc's highlights is Taildragger's remake of his classic tune "My Head Is Bald."
Aron Burton is accompanied by Billy Branch, Mad Dog Lester Davenport and Lurrie Bell on his new CD "Good Blues To You." Burton is known for his years backing Junior Wells and Fenton Robinson. He later joined up with Albert Collins Icebreakers in 1978. The disc features several originals including "Stuck In Chicago," "Good Idea At the Time," and "Marryin' Game."
Another of Collins' Icebreakers, A.C. Reed, has a new one out. "Junk Food" finds Reed reunited with Maurice John Vaughn, Johnny B. Gayden, and Casey Jones.
Ken Saydak's "Foolish Man" rounds out the Delmark issuances for early spring. Singer/pianist/songwriter Saydak, who worked stints with Mighty Joe Young, and Lonnie Brooks, shows his talent for presenting blues and swing here. The recording was done without guitar, with a lineup including Ron Sorin on harmonica, Jon Hiller and Kenny Smith, son of Willie "Big Eyes" Smith on drums.
According to Delmark representative Doug Engel, Aaron Moore's second disc for the label is due in stores in early May.
Fresh jazz from Delmark includes the Chicago Underground Trio's "Possible Cube," "In Walked Buckner" by the Roscoe Mitchell Quartet, "Payne's Window" by Cecil Payne and "Von and Ed" by Von Freeman and Ed Peterson.
Feb. 26, 1999
Legendary Howlin' Wolf guitarist Hubert Sumlin flew to Los Angeles Feb. 24 to attend the 1999 Grammy Awards as a nominee for his contributions to Telarc's CD "A Tribute to Howlin' Wolf."
Sumlin was nominated along with Henry Gray, Calvin Jones, Sam Lay and Colin Linden in the category of traditional blues album.
Sumlin's trip west came less than one week after he collapsed while performing in Milwaukee. Sumlin, who resides in Milwaukee, was performing his second set of the night with guitarist Jon McDonald and his band at the packed Nomad bar on the city's east side Feb. 18 when he collapsed. Sumlin was helped outside the club where he was treated by EMS personnel. He refused medical transport and spent the next day resting at home.
It was rumored that some of the Rolling Stones, in town for their show the following night at the Bradley Center, would visit Sumlin's Nomad gig. However, they did not. Sumlin was an invited guest to the Stones' Milwaukee show on Feb. 19. However, he did not perform with the legendary British band.
Two days after his collapse, Sumlin performed a solid set at Milwaukee's Up and Under Pub, seemingly recovered.
"This last one, it's the best I've ever done," Rush told the Reuters News Service about the record. "I had a good feeling about it."
Other records nominated in the category included "Long as I Have You" by John Hammond, "Got to Find a Way" by Luther "Guitar Junior" Johnson and the Magic Rockers and "I Got to Find Me a Woman" by Robert Lockwood Jr.
Keb Mo' won for contemporary blues album for "Slow Down" over "Deuces Wild" by B.B. King, "Sing It!" by Marcia Ball, Irma Thomas and Tracy Nelson, "Heavy Love" by Buddy Guy and "Life, Love and the Blues" by Etta James.
The Grammy telecast included a performance of "Rock Me Baby" by B.B. King and Eric Clapton.
"We're going in with 16 original tunes and then we'll pick the best 10 or 12," Filipowicz said.
The tracks will be recorded at Randy's Recording in Cottage Grove, Wis.