The American Folk Blues Festival 1962 - 1966; Vol 2; Vol 3 - The festival was an annual event with dozens of classic blues greats like Sonny Boy Williamson, Muddy Waters & Howlin' Wolf playing to appreciative UK audiences. "Attendees at Manchester in 1962, the first ever venue for the festival in Britain, included Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Brian Jones and Jimmy Page. Subsequent attendees at the first London festivals are believed to have also included such influential musicians as Eric Burdon, Eric Clapton, and Steve Winwood. Collectively these were the primary movers in the blues explosion that would lead to the British Invasion." [more inside]
John Hammond Jr. has been keeping classic blues alive through nearly 5 decades of expressive performing and recording. He was named to the Blues Hall of Fame this year - here's a sampling why: Walking Blues performed in Paris, 2004; Come Into My Kitchen performed at at Fur Peace Ranch, 2009. [more inside]
RIP Joe Willie "Pinetop" Perkins - "It is with deep sadness that we announce Pinetop Perkins passed away peacefully at home on Monday, March 21, 2011 in Austin, TX at the age of 97." One of the last great Mississippi bluesmen, having played with Sonny Boy Williamson, Robert Nighthawk, and for a number of years, the great Muddy Waters. Pinetop & friends at his 95th birthday; Pinetop Perkins with Willie Big Eyed Smith; Muddy Waters with Pinetop Perkins, 1970s [more inside]
Truckin' My Blues Away is an hour long audio documentary on older Southern blues singers featuring Little Freddie King, Captain Luke, and others. It promotes the work of the Music Maker Relief Foundation which supports traditional musicians (previously). There is an accompanying slide show and the producers are working on another documentary, Still Singing the Blues.
Elvis rode to fame on one of her covers and Janis got rich on her signature song, but you haven't truly heard Hound Dog or Ball & Chain until you've experienced Big Mama Thornton belting them out. A seminal blues figure who could play the harp with the best of them, she was true original. In her heyday, Willie Mae was a 6-foot tall, 350-pound, gun-toting crossdresser who led a rough and colorful life and took no guff whatsoever. Emaciated but still powerful, she gives a final raw and expressive performance of Ball & Chain and Hound Dog shortly before her death in 1984. [more inside]
Taj Mahal (sound alert) has been delighting audiences for more than 40 years since his debut with Ry Cooder in the pacesetting Rising Sons. He's a multi-instrumentalist most noted for blues, but his life's work spans gospel, Caribbean, Hawaiian and many other genres. Much respected by fellow musicians, he's a 2-time Grammy winner and official blues artist of MA. He loves to go fishin' and if you like fishing too, you can join him on his next Taj Mahal Fishing Blues Tournament, a benefit to aid southern musicians. [more Taj music inside]
John Lee Hooker performs Gloria and It Serves Me Right to Suffer with Van Morrison; I'm in the Mood with Bonnie Raitt; The Healer with Santana; Boogie Chilluns with the Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton; and Roadhouse Blues with Jim Morrison & the Doors (audio only). [Also, Muddy Waters, Etta James and more blues legends & rock combos inside]
After nearly 70 years, blues legend Robert Johnson's guitar has recently surfaced. It's up for sale, but you may need to sell your soul to afford it. Maybe Legba will lend you the purchse price. [more]
Things ain't what they used to be. Blues, jazz, Cajun and country music great Clarence Gatemouth Brown dies at 81. Brown safely evacuated his home in Slidell, but was said to be broken hearted by the devastation wreaked by Katrina on his beloved Louisiana. Alligator bio (sound alert).
Longtime Mefi member chuq offers a tiny respite from the misery with his report on the survival of many of Louisiana's beloved musicians, including the good news that Fats Domino was rescued from his roof. More coverage here and here. (more)
Son of a Bluesman The legend was that if you touched Robert Johnson you could feel the talent running through him, like heat, put there by the devil on a dark Delta crossroad in exchange for his soul. It is why Claud Johnson's grandparents would not let him out of the house that day in 1937 when Robert Johnson, his father, strolled into the yard. "They told my daddy they didn't want no part of him. They said he was working for the devil. I stood in the door, and he stood on the ground, and that is as close as I ever got to him. He wandered off, and I never saw him again." Today, in the working-class neighborhood where he raised his children, Claud Johnson, a rich man, lives in a grand house on 47 acres of property. (After Claud won his court battle in 1998 and was recognized as the son of the blues legend, his lawyer handed him a six-figure cashier's check and begged him to quit hauling gravel. Claud kept hauling gravel for five months. "After 29 years, it just gets in your blood"). His victory stands out in the annals of Mississippi probate law. It took 10 years, two trips to the State Supreme Court and two trips to the U.S. Supreme Court. Not to mention, most of the first two or three generations of blues musicians died without securing rights to their composition. Explains Thomas Freeland, a Mississippi attorney and blues historian: when the San Francisco-based band the Grateful Dead recorded songs by the North Carolina blues musician Elizabeth Cotten, Freeland said, "the story is, [she] bought a dishwasher with the royalties." (more inside)