Friday, October 30, 2015

Shades Of Mitty Collier - The Chess Singles 1961-1968


Mitty Lene Collier (born 21 June 1941) Mitty Collier was born in Birmingham, Alabama, the seventh child of Rufus and Gertrude Collier, and attended Western-Olin High School, Alabama A & M College and Miles College where she majored in English. She began singing in church as a teenager, and toured with gospel groups, the Hayes Ensemble and the Lloyd Reese Singers, before starting to sing rhythm and blues in local clubs to help subsidize her college education. In 1959, while visiting Chicago, she entered DJ Al Benson's talent show at the Regal Theater, winning for six straight weeks and gaining her a slot on a bill with B. B. King and Etta James as a prize. This brought her to the attention of Ralph Bass of Chess Records, who offered her a recording contract.

She recorded for the Chess label from 1961 to 1968, releasing 15 singles and one album, mostly produced by Billy Davis. Her first record was "Gotta Get Away From It All", which was not a hit. Her first real success came in 1963 with "I'm Your Part Time Love", an answer record to Little Johnny Taylor's "Part Time Love". It reached # 20 on the Billboard R&B chart, and was followed up with "I Had A Talk With My Man", a secularized version of James Cleveland's gospel song "I Had A Talk With God Last Night". The orchestrated ballad reached # 41 on the Billboard Hot 100 and # 3 on the Cash Box R&B chart, and became her best known song, later being covered by Dusty Springfield and Shirley Brown among others. Her next record, "No Faith, No Love", was also a reworking of a James Cleveland song, and reached # 29 on the Billboard R&B chart and # 91 on the pop chart. She released an album, Shades Of A Genius, in 1965. Her last hit, in 1966, was "Sharing You" (# 10 on the R&B chart, # 97 pop). She left Chess in 1968 after recording a single, a new version of "Gotta Get Away From It All" recorded at FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals with producer Rick Hall. She recorded five further singles and an album with William Bell's Peachtree label in Atlanta, Georgia. However, in 1971 she developed polyps on her vocal cords, losing her singing voice, and gave up her secular music career.

She then began to devote her life to her Christian beliefs. After recovering her voice she recorded several albums of gospel music, of which the first, The Warning in 1972, featured "I Had A Talk With God Last Night". Later albums included Hold The Light (1977) and I Am Love (1987). She also established a Bible Study Telephone Prayer Line and a community outreach program, "Feed-A-Neighbor" (FAN), for which she received the key to the city of Birmingham in 1987. She became a preacher, and was ordained in 1989, later being appointed pastor of the More Like Christ (MLC) Christian Fellowship Ministries in Chicago. She has also worked at the University of Chicago, as well as writing plays and continuing to sing gospel music. She has received a number of other humanitarian and other awards, including the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW) Woman of Wonder Award 2000. wikipedia

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Etta James - Seven Year Itch (1989)

In the Bluesless desert of the late 1980's, this album was a saving oasis for me. A Rhythm & Blues classic by one of my favourite female vocalists - Etta is up there along with Bessie Billie and Aretha.
Here is what Etta said about 'Seven Year Itch'...:
"That's the title I gave my first album on Island, 'cause it'd been seven years since I recorded for a major company...We cut a horn-heavy Stax/Volt-sounding soul record, with fat charts by Jim Horn and a selection of songs that included choice Otis Redding ('I Got The Will')- I'll never get tired of singing Otis- and a ballad I really loved, 'Damn Your Eyes'. The record didn't burn up the charts, but it was solid, nominated for a Grammy, and sold well enough where Chris Blackwell wanted another one."
(From 'Rage To Survive - The Etta James Story' by Etta James & David Ritz - A great read by the way !)

It's an album I still play regularly and thoroughly recommend.

Musicians include : Barry Beckett, Willie Weeks, Roger Hawkins, Art Neville, Steve Cropper, Jim Horn and others...Enjoy

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Esquerita - All the Voola


I think it is time for a re-working of this post. There is a considerable amount of added material.

 Ahh, the sad story of Steven Q. Reeder, "but for chance there go I". One of the creative influences behind what makes Little Richard a star but when Richard uses Esquerita's style at The Dew Drop Inn and blows Bumps Blackwell's mind, he may have doomed his buddy to obscurity and an ugly death. Little Richard's New Orleans sessions are so huge and so national that when the guy who actually invented the whole schtick finally gets recorded he is dismissed by an understandably ignorant public as an imitator. No matter that he is a far superior pianist (I give Richard the clear singing edge), the world seemingly has room for only one. This post has been reworked to include all but a tiny handful of stray tracks - this is All The Voola.
Born in Greenville, S.C., in 1935, Steven Quincy Reeder began calling himself "Eskew" after his initials – S.Q. Later, of course, the name became Esquerita, then went back to Eskew. (Little Richard claimed his predecessor liked to point out how his nickname sounded like "excreta.") An early performing career with a gospel group known as the Heavenly Echoes soon led, in a roundabout fashion, to the singer's outrageous nightclub act.

" With his flamboyant makeup, sculpted pompadour, assaultive piano playing and glass-busting trills, Little Richard is invariably described as a rock 'n' roll nonpareil. But Richard himself has often acknowledged that his persona has a lot to do with one of the true unsung heroes of rock – a forgotten wildman who answered to the stage name Esquerita.

Appropriately enough, they met in a Greyhound bus station in Macon, Ga., late one night, when the only people around were the prowlers "trying to catch something – you know, have sex," as Richard Penniman explained in his biography 'The Life and Times of Little Richard.' Eskew Reeder, as the man was then known, had the biggest hands Richard had ever seen. He performed, apparently, with an evangelist named Sister Rosa and an undersized singer appropriately called Shorty. When Richard asked this brother from another planet if he would teach him how to pound the piano, Reeder happily obliged.  

People are largely unaware that when those iconic Specialty recordings were made in New Orleans, Richard was not a piano player. (Fats Domino is amongst those thought possible to have played on the sessions.) His piano teachers were Reeder and "..a guy named James (Booker)." There was some period when Reeder toured with Richard as his piano player. It has never been clear to me when that was, or how it was they both ended up in New Orleans at the same time, and why Reeder stayed behind.

Though Little Richard would later claim he gave Esquerita the idea for his gigantic bouffant, (other parts of the story would seem to belie this) that's the only mention of Richard's mentor in the biography. To this day, little is known of Esquerita, whose sole album, released in 1959, was mistakenly seen as little more than a Little Richard copycat job.


"Professor" Eskew Reeder was discovered playing a Greenville barroom called the Owl Club by Paul Peek, guitarist for Gene Vincent's rockabilly backing band, the Blue Caps. Peek introduced the free spirit with the rhinestone wraparound shades to talent scouts at Capitol Records, who had signed Gene Vincent as the label's answer to Elvis. Here was the label's answer to Little Richard.

Later, Reeder would scuffle his way through the '60s, reportedly gigging with the future Dr. John and a young Jimi Hendrix – and cutting a few sessions with a grateful Little Richard. He recorded some songs for Motown, never released. He began changing his stage name – Voola, the Magnificent Malochi – to no avail.

By the '70s, he was playing seedy gigs in back-alley gay bars in New York, billed as Fabulash. A decade after that, he was reduced to begging for change as a squeegee man. Esquerita died of complications from AIDS in New York in 1986, at age 52.

Sadly, his one Capitol album, despite a fantastic, iconic cover image of the singer with his wig piled high and a collection of raucous bawlers inside, came across as one too many Little Richards for the world to handle. Ironically, it was only when an unproven Richard had stretched out his Esquerita muscle on a previously lackluster session in New Orleans that he found his own voice as early rock 'n' roll's most thrilling loony tune.

The first part of this bonanza will take you to Blue Dragon who recently posted the first chapter of this musical story (click the blog name). The subsequent material, mostly recorded here in New Orleans, is in the normal place.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Johnny Jones - Beyond the Swanees

We have a new blog regular, Dr. Hep Cat, to thank for this week's Gospel post. We were FB chatting about other music when he asked me the question "are you hip to Johnny Jones?". I was forced to respond "apparently not!" (a response delivered with a bit of a wince, I admit). DHC came back "he was one of the lead vocals for The Swanee Quintet." ...Well okay, I've heard of them and have some tracks on compilations... not enough that I know a thing about the members tho. Well DHC responded by sending me a pair of jaw dropping lp rips and I was hooked! That pair of records represented 2/3 of his solo output and over the next couple days I managed to come up with the other lp (contained in the compilation pictured here) and even a couple of secular tracks (there were 4 recorded all told, DHC had a third, but one is still missing)! What you will get in this package is everything we have assembled to date which has to be very close to being complete. 

Johnny was not a hard gospel 'shouter', but instead a smooth gospel crooner more in the mold of Sam Cooke. In fact, when Sam left the Soul Stirrers to pursue his secular career, it was Jones who was his first replacement. After 6 months or so, Johnny decided that the Stirrer's were not for him and he left, clearing the way for Johnnie Taylor.

An offshoot of this project you will hear today is that DHC and I both realized that there wasn't much in the way of a satisfying collection of The Swanee Quintet out there either and we began working on remedying THAT situation too! It will be a week or two before we reveal the results of our quest on that front, but let me offer that we succeeded beyond our wildest dreams!


Thursday, October 15, 2015

Plug It In, Turn It Up: The Electric Blues, Part 1- Beginnings 1939-1954 (3discs)

AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
"Bear Family's Electric Blues history Plug It In! Turn It Up! may not seem quite as ambitious as some of their projects, but that's only because it arrives in four volumes of three CDs, not a hulking 12-disc, 12X12 box complete with a hardcover book. Taken on its own terms, it is a pretty impressive chronicle of electrified blues from its infancy to its prime. Here in the first volume, the spotlight shines on its birth, opening up with a cut from Andy Kirk & His Twelve Clouds of Joy, a 1939 side called "Floyd's Guitar Blues" featuring a solo by Floyd Smith, and running to 1954, when the jumping, hard-charged sound started to break into the big time. Wisely, Bear Family is happy to repeat artists -- there is no way to limit yourself to just one T-Bone Walker or Muddy Waters song, after all -- and they bend the rules ever so slightly, letting in sides by R&B singers like Fats Domino and Ray Charles, artists who aren't always strictly classified as electric blues but certainly fit this wide definition. Roughly speaking, the first disc here is devoted to the swinging, jumping sounds of the '40s and '50s, with the second finding the rawer, nastier sounds starting to sneak in (Jackie Brenston's 'Rocket '88'," Howlin' Wolf's "How Many More Years," Elmore James' "Dust My Broom," and Little Walter's "Juke" pop up here), and the third concluding with the rise of overdriven Chicago blues and boogie, with Jimmy Reed rubbing shoulders with Wynonie Harris. Perhaps there are some seminal sides from these 15 minutes -- almost certainly there are -- but this first volume of Plug It In! Turn It Up! tells its story expertly and, best of all, it sounds like a party as it does so."

note if you double click either track list, they will expand for easier reading



Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Jimmy Dawkins - Fast Fingers 1969

"James Henry "Jimmy" Dawkins (October 24, 1936 – April 10, 2013) was an American Chicago blues and electric blues guitarist and singer. He was generally considered a part of the "West Side Sound" of Chicago blues. He was born in Tchula, Mississippi in 1936. He moved to Chicago in 1955. He worked in a box factory, and started to play local blues clubs, gaining a reputation as a session musician.

In 1969, thanks to the efforts of his friend Magic Sam, he released his first album Fast Fingers on Delmark Records, winning the "Grand Prix du Disque" from the Hot Club de France. In 1971, Delmark released his second album All For Business with singer, Andrew Odom, and the guitarist, Otis Rush. Dawkins also toured in the late 1970s backed up by James Solberg (of Luther Allison and The Nighthawks fame) on guitar and Jon Preizler (The Lamont Cranston Band, The Drifters), a Seattle based Hammond B-3 player known for his soulful jazz influenced style. Other musicians that toured with Jimmy Dawkins in the late 1970s were Jimi Schutte (drummer), Sylvester Boines (bass), Rich Kirch and Billy Flynn (guitars). With this combination of musicians Dawkins also toured Europe.

Dawkins began to tour in Europe and Japan and recorded more albums in the United States and Europe. Dawkins also contributed a column to the blues magazine Living Blues. In the 1980s he released few recordings, but began his own record label, Leric Records, and was more interested in promoting other artists, including Taildragger, Queen Sylvia Embry, Little Johnny Christian and Nora Jean Wallace.

Dawkins died of undisclosed causes on April 10, 2013, aged 76." wiki

Eddie Boyd - The Complete Blue Horizon Sessions

If you check the Blue Eye blog (just click) you will find a remarkable collection of Boyd's earlier material - here is the next chapter.

"Edward Riley "Eddie" Boyd (November 25, 1914 – July 13, 1994) was an American blues pianist. He was born on Stovall's Plantation near Clarksdale, Mississippi. Boyd moved to the Beale Street district of Memphis, Tennessee in 1936 where he played piano and guitar with his group, the Dixie Rhythm Boys. Boyd followed the great migration northward to the factories of Chicago in 1941.

He wrote and recorded the songs "Five Long Years" (1952), "24 Hours" (1953), and the "Third Degree" (co-written by Willie Dixon, also 1953). Boyd toured Europe with Buddy Guy's band in 1965 as part of the American Folk Blues Festival. He later toured and recorded with Fleetwood Mac and John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers.

Tired of the racial discrimination he experienced in the United States, he first moved to Belgium where he recorded with the Dutch band Cuby and the Blizzards. He settled in Helsinki, Finland in 1970, where he recorded ten blues records, the first being Praise to Helsinki (1970). He married his wife, Leila, in 1977.

Boyd died in 1994 in Helsinki, Finland, just a few months before Eric Clapton released the chart-topping blues album, From the Cradle that included Boyd's "Five Long Years" and "Third Degree"."

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Over In Glory: Favorites From Classic Gospel Groups

Rerun by request - this is a good one!

This morning's lovely program was brought to you by Elder Clifford.

"Subtitled "Favorites From Classic Gospel Groups," and this compiles more great gospel treasures by some of the greatest gospel groups of all time and pulled from the multi-label vaults of MCA Records. Highlights include the Mighty Clouds of Joy's "Pray For Me," the Caravans' "One Of These Old Days," the Dixie Hummingbirds' "Christian's Automobile," the Soul Stirrers' "Jesus Be a Fence Around Me," the Ward Singers' "Didn't It Rain," and the Jackson Southernaires' "Too Late." Selections from the Five Blind Boys ("Save a Seat for Me"), the Williams Brothers ("Jesus Will Never Say No"), the Mighty Clouds of Joy ("Heavy Load"), the Staple Singers ("Pray On My Child"), the Gospel Keynotes ("He'll Make It Right") and the Davis Sisters ("Blessed Quietness") finish out this fine gospel group overview."

"Over in Glory: Favorites From Classic Gospel Groups [MCA, 1998]
All climax, all the time. In a music whose individual proponents make it their business to channel the universal, why not stick to their ecstasies and leave the mundane to their secular counterparts? Not that these impassioned tracks are above detail--one apogee among many is the Jackson Southernaires' painfully protracted tale of a son who reaches his dying mama just hours too late. But whether the glorious singers are getting happy or laying their burdens down, they're all in extremis, opening windows not into their mortal souls but into an idealized gospel experience--the spiritual release nonbelievers prize in a music that will never be their own. Connoisseurs may cry cartoon, but for most of us that's a plus, as are the articulated call-and-response built into the group format and the crassness of Peacock's Don Robey, not a guy who hesitated to besmirch the Lord with rhythm sections. Guitars either." A Robert Christgau

The Campbell Brothers - Beyond the 4 Walls

"The four Campbell brothers--Chuck on pedal steel, Phillip on electric guitar and bass, Carlton (Phillip's son) on drums, and Darick on lap eight-string steel--play electric gospel music for the House of God, Keith Dominion church. Emphasizing the steel guitar, the group stick to a repertoire that avoids rock and blues, but nonetheless betrays the influences of those forms in their arrangements, which also draw from country, jazz, and other forms. Although their selection of material is spiritual, the guitar work of Chuck Campbell in particular is imaginative and at times even experimental, using a tuning he devised himself and the E-bow to produce eerie sustain. With Kate Jackson on vocals and Charles Flenory contributing electric guitar to some cuts, they recorded an album for Arhoolie's Sacred Steel series, Pass Me Not, in 1996 and 1997. Both Sacred Steel on Tour! and Sacred Steel for the Holidays saw release in 2001. Can You Feel It? from 2005 appeared on a new label for the group, Rope a Dope." AMG

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Martha Bass - I'm So Grateful

Martha Bass today is not nearly as well known as her daughter, Fontella Bass, or her son, David Peaston.   This is partly due to the fact that she had curiously few opportunities to record.  Fortunately, we have this masterpiece, I'm So Grateful, that preserves her legacy as one of the great gospel divas of her time.  

Martha Bass was born in Saint Louis in 1921, and was trained as a gospel singer by the legendary Willie Mae Ford Smith (aka Mother Smith).  She became one of the Clara Ward Singers briefly, but hardly had the opportunity to record until Chess Records took her into the studio in the 1960s.  This LP was certainly the crowning achievement of her partnership with Chess. 

There are 11 tracks on the LP, but separate recordings were made for the mono and stereo versions.  So the CD release on Righteous Records ripped here contains both the stereo and mono versions.

 If you like good gospel music, I am sure that you will enjoy Martha Bass.  


Friday, October 9, 2015

Robert Nighthawk, Forrest City Joe - Black Angel Blues & Bricks In My Pillow

"Robert Lee McCollum (November 30, 1909 – November 5, 1967)
Born in Helena, Arkansas, he left home at an early age to become a busking musician, and after a period wandering through southern Mississippi, settled for a time in Memphis, Tennessee, where he played with local orchestras and musicians, such as the Memphis Jug Band. A particular influence during this period was Houston Stackhouse, from whom he learned to play slide guitar, and with whom he appeared on the radio in Jackson, Mississippi.

After further travels through Mississippi, he found it advisable to take his mother's name, and as Robert Lee McCoy moved to St. Louis, Missouri, in the mid-1930s. Local musicians with whom he played included Henry Townsend, Big Joe Williams, and Sonny Boy Williamson. This led to two recording dates in 1937, the four musicians recording together at the Victor Records studio in Aurora, Illinois, as well as recordings under his own name, including "Prowling Night-Hawk" (recorded 5 May 1937), from which he was to take his later pseudonym. These sessions led to Chicago blues careers for the other musicians, though not, however, for McCoy, who continued his rambling life, playing and recording (for Victor/Bluebird and Decca) solo and with various musicians, under various names. Kansas City Red was his drummer from the early 1940s to around 1946. He recorded Kansas City Red’s song "The Moon is Rising".

McCoy became a familiar voice on local radio stations; then Robert Lee McCoy disappeared.Within a few years, he resurfaced as the electric slide guitarist Robert Nighthawk, and began recording for Aristocrat and Chess Records, the latter of which was also Muddy Waters' label; in 1949 and 1950, the two men's styles were close enough that they were in competition for promotional activity; as Waters was the more marketable commodity, being more reliable and a more confident stage communicator, he received the attention. Though Nighthawk continued to perform and to record, taking up with United and States 1951 and 1952, he failed to achieve great commercial success.

In 1963, Nighthawk was rediscovered busking in Chicago and this led to further recording sessions and club dates, and to his return to Arkansas, where he appeared on the King Biscuit Time radio programme on KFFA. Nighthawk continued giving live performances on Chicago's Maxwell Street until 1964. He had a stroke followed by a heart attack, and died of heart failure at his home in Helena. He is buried in Magnolia Cemetery in Helena." wiki


Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Does Soul Have A Color?


Smokey Johnson - It Ain't My Fault

We have lost another great one!

"Joseph "Smokey" Johnson (born November 14, 1936, New Orleans, died October 6, 2015, New Orleans)
 is an American drummer. He is one of the musicians, session players, and songwriters who have served as the backbone for New Orleans' output of jazz, funk, blues, soul, and R&B music.

Johnson served as the drummer for Fats Domino in the 1950s and 1960s.
In 1961, Johnson and Wardell Quezergue worked together on the session for Earl King's proto-funk classic, "Trick Bag", produced by Dave Bartholomew.

Soon thereafter, Johnson went with Quezergue and childhood friend Joe Jones, and several other New Orleans artists (including Johnny Adams, Earl King and Esquerita) to audition for Motown in Detroit, where they recorded numerous demo sessions. (Jones had conned everyone into believing the were going to record, rather than audition, see story) Earl King once remarked that at least part of the reason why they got in the door was Motown's fascination with Smokey Johnson, who could do more on a trap set by himself than any two of the label's session drummers. Although Motown ended up not signing any of the New Orleans artists, Johnson offered to remain on staff while the other New Orleans artists were dispatched.


Johnson remained in Detroit for several months before deciding to return home; but his influence on the Motown sound was profound, as the other drummers studied his techniques, incorporating them into countless hit sessions.

In 1963 and 1964, Dave Bartholomew enlisted Johnson for his last two Imperial big band albums, giving Johnson the spotlight on the tune, "Portrait Of A Drummer", from New Orleans House Party.

In 1964, about a year after Nola Records was formed in New Orleans, Quezergue a partner in the label as well as principal producer/arranger, invited Johnson to be the drummer for label's house band. After a few months, Johnson and Quezergue wound up writing and recording what has become a New Orleans Mardi Gras standard called "It Ain't My Fault". Deftly arranged, "It Ain't My Fault" is a fascinating early example of both Johnson and Quezergue incorporating Second Line syncopation into pop music. The arranger's device of starting off with just the drummer's relaxed but intricate percussive work (plus somebody hitting what sounds like a glass bottle) quickly pulls the listener into the song, even before the simple musical hook, played by just the guitar and piano. George Davis runs the guitar riffs on the first side with that recognizable style made famous several years later on Robert Parker's "Barefootin'".

While the lighthearted, hard to resist "It Ain't My Fault" was enjoyed locally in New Orleans, it did not have a national impact at the time, it set the stage for many more uniquely funked up grooves to follow, and over time has become a Mardi Gras favorite and a part of the brass band repertoire.
Johnson stopped playing drums after suffering a stroke in 1993.

Johnson was forced to leave his home in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in September 2005. Johnson is now a resident of Musicians' Village, a Habitat for Humanity project in the Upper Ninth Ward of New Orleans." wiki

Smokey passed away yesterday, may he Rest In Peace.

Larry Davis - Funny Stuff

If you want to explore the earlier recordings of Larry Davis there is an excellent post and collection at Blue Eye. (click here)

 Artist Biography by Bill Dahl

Anyone who associates "Texas Flood" only with Stevie Ray Vaughan has never auditioned Larry Davis' version. Davis debuted on vinyl in 1958 with the song, his superlative Duke Records original remaining definitive to this day despite Vaughan's impassioned revival many years down the road.

Davis grew up in Little Rock, AR, giving up the drums to play bass. Forging an intermittent partnership with guitarist Fenton Robinson during the mid-'50s, the pair signed with Don Robey's Duke label on the recommendation of Bobby Bland. Three Davis 45s resulted, including "Texas Flood" and "Angels in Houston," before Robey cut Davis loose. From there, Davis was forced to make the most of limited opportunities in the studio. He lived in St. Louis for a spell and took up the guitar under Albert King's tutelage while playing bass in King's band.

A handful of singles for Virgo and Kent and a serious 1972 motorcycle accident that temporarily paralyzed Davis' left side preceded an impressive 1982 album for Rooster Blues, Funny Stuff, produced by Gateway City mainstay Oliver Sain. But follow-up options remained hard to come by: few blues fans could find a copy of the guitarist's 1987 Pulsar LP I Ain't Beggin' Nobody.

Finally, in 1992, Ron Levy's Bulleye Blues logo issued a first-class Davis set, Sooner or Later, that skillfully showcased his rich, booming vocals and concise, Albert King-influenced guitar. Unfortunately, it came later rather than sooner: Davis died of cancer in the spring of 1994.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Boozoo Chavis - Zydeco Trail Ride & Zydeco Homebrew

Wilson Anthony "Boozoo" Chavis (born October 23, 1930 in Lake Charles, LA and died May 5, 2001 in Austin, Texas) was a zydeco musician.

"Boozoo Chavis (born: Wilson Anthony Chavis) was one of the pioneers of zydeco, the Cajun and blues hybrid originating in southwest Louisiana. Although his self-composed 1954 single, "Paper in My Shoes," was the first zydeco hit, Chavis was distrustful of the music industry and refused to perform publicly or record again until 1984. In an interview featured in the 1990 book, The New Folk Music, Chavis explained, "I got gypped out of my record. I get frustrated, sometimes. I love to play, but, when I get to thinking about 1955… They stole my record. They said that it only sold 150,000 copies. But, my cousin, who used to live in Boston, checked it out. It sold over a million copies. I was supposed to have a gold record." After leaving the music business, Chavis devoted his attention to raising champion racehorses in Shreveport and Lafayette, Louisiana and Texas. Chavis waited until 1984 before returning to music. Signing a five-year contract with the Maison de Soul label, he recorded four albums — Louisiana Zydeco Music, Boozoo Zydeco!, Zydeco Homebrew and Zydeco Trail Ride. Chavis' 1997 album, Hey, Do Right, was produced by Terry Adams, keyboardist for NRBQ, who paid tribute to Chavis in their 1989 song, "Boozoo, That's Who."

Chavis' performances, with his band, the Majic Sounds, included much-heralded appearance at the Newport Folk Festival and the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. The New York Times wrote, "(Chavis is) chaos on two feet. A little bullet of a man, he runs around onstage, shouting and yelling….(his) music can achieve a trancelike intensity". In a review of Chavis' performance at the Southwest Louisiana Zydeco Music Festival, Paul Scott wrote, "There are a lot of Boozoo prototypes coming out. They may be smoother than Boozoo but they try to get his hard accordion; that rough, raw, style; and his sore throat type of singing. And with that single-note and triple-note accordion, he's doing a lot to bring a return to basic zydeco'.

The son of tenant farmers, Chavis acquired his nickname as a youngster. Chavis was raised by his mother who cleaned houses and sold barbecue at horse races until raising enough money to buy a three acre tract of land where she and Chavis moved in 1944. Acquiring an accordion from his father and teaching himself to play, Chavis was soon playing at local barn dances and in the dance club, opened by his mother, where he often sat in with Morris Chenier and his sons, Clifton and Cleveland. In 1994, Chavis appeared in Robert Mugge's video documentary, The Kingdom of Zydeco. He was inducted into the Zydeco Hall of Fame four years later. And continuing to release music into the new millennium, Chavis issued Johnnie Billy Goat in fall 2000. On May 5, 2001 Chavis died after suffering from complications related to a heart attack he had a month earlier." last FM

Monday, October 5, 2015

Junior Wells - It's My Life, Baby!

In the shadow of the furor over 'Hoo Doo Man Blues' this album gets overlooked and at times outright disrespected. I'm pretty sure it was my fist Junior/Buddy vinyl so you will have to excuse my personal prejudice. I'll always love it.

The album is admittedly a schizophrenic mix of live and studio material and bands...I still wouldn't skip it. It's was a frequent late night choice. When others would play Lee Michaels' 'Stormy Monday' at me, this version was my response.  

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Fire in My Bones Raw, Rare & Other-Worldly African-American Gospel

A repost of the whole thing! This was one of this blog's first Gospel posts more than 3 years ago.

"The majority of this music has never been reissued on CD, or in any other form (most tracks were originally released on regional independent labels). Most post-WWII compilations of African-American gospel music naturally concentrate on the astounding quartet and solo vocalist sounds made during the music’s Golden Age. Fire In My Bones attempts to address and collect more neglected sounds from that era (and on to the present day). Dozens of traditions are represented. Some go back hundreds of years while others seem to have been arrived at as soon as the tape began to roll. Field recordings and studio tracks are all mashed together, with solo performances next to congregational recordings, hellfire sermons next to afterlife laments. Leon Pinson, Elder & Sister Brinson & the Brinson Brothers, Grant & Ella, Straight Street Holiness Group, Theotis Taylor, Brother & Sister W B Grate—these artists will now be just a little less obscure.

Fire In My Bones provides a small peek at the incredible diversity and power of post-war black gospel. Much of this music is raw, distorted and might sound a bit strange. But it is not presented as a novelty freak show or as “outsider music.” This is gospel-which we must always remember translates as “the good news”-as it has been sung and performed in tiny churches and large programs, from rural Georgia to urban Los Angeles. It is clearly among the most vibrant, playful, beautiful and emotionally charged music in the world." Thomkins Square

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Jabo - Hard Times

I don't know 'bout anyone else, but I'm finding Jabo to be an absolutely delightful disovery! On this album he effortlessly slides between killer Zydeco, Deep Southern Soul, and even some 'adult urban' Chitlin Circuit blues. The man has got some serious chops!

I defy you to sit your ass still during 'Hard Times'; dis here zydeco rocks the way Beau Jocque used to do! 'Happy Anniversary' is pure Southern Soul on a level that's pretty damn rare these days. 'Bang Me' is a magic mix of rude Boo Zoo zydeco with a dash of Hip Hop that somehow succeeds brilliantly.

This brother is seriously the real deal, a star already in full bloom. Every damn song is another revelation and the variety is impressive. The two female guest vocalists are Smokin', the musicians are playing real instruments and THEY are Smokin'...these 10 tracks are without a doubt ALL KILLA', NO FILLA'!!