Rick Keene Music Scene – There Is ‘No Woman’ Like Angela Harris

It is all about the roots after all …

Angela Harris knows all about the ‘roots’ of music. It is in her blood and DNA. In fact – Bluegrass and Country were all around her as a child …

Please listen below to my chat with Angela about her new disc;

A Woman Like Me.

Angela? What’s up?

 

 

Visit Angela Here !

 

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Rick Keene Music Scene – Rock for Dimes This Friday !

Raising money for the March of Dimes via Rock n Roll.

Pretty cool …

Hosting Rock for Dimes 2014

Every year in several Canadian cities – corporate guys and gals get together and put on a Rock show.

This year, in Montreal – the event takes place on November 16th at The Corona Theater. It promises to be a night to remember and another big total of money raised for the March of Dimes Canada.

Please listen below to my chat with Marc Dore – chairperson for Rock of Dimes Montreal.

Marc? What’s up?

Visit Rock for Dimes Here

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Rick Keene Music Scene – Hey Dweezil! Where Did You Find That One? Concert Review

How do you describe Frank Zappa’s music?

Easy. A blend of Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Genesis, Yes, Rush, The Ramones, The Kinks, the Beatles and every artist between 1920 until present day.

Frank Zappa’s brilliance as a writer, producer, arranger, guitar player and every other position within an intellectual realm artistically and socially was put on display via Dweezil Zappa in Laval last night. Epic could be the best way to describe the evening.

The Purple Lagoon, Andy and Don’t You Want a Man Like Me opened things up along with the punter’s minds who were not far behind in realizing music exists beyond corporate radio. The name of this tour is Choice Cuts. An insight into the non commercial world of Frank Zappa. Given Frank’s songs were mostly non radio friendly, choosing ‘choice’ tracks should be easy.

Think again …

Firstly – Dweezil’s Muthas are not your Father’s band. When each player within a band could headline on their own – something special is on the way. Dweezil himself – one of the finest guitar players ‘off the beaten path’ and an astute songwriter to boot. Detach the Zappa moniker and all it’s expectations – Dweezil could very well be in the same breath as Vai, Satriano et al. in the mainstream conscientiousness. Frank probably would want it this way and ensure the Zappa legacy maintains musical integrity.

As the show moved along – perhaps the ladies initially stole the show. Vocalist Cian Coey and multi – instrumentalist Scheila Gonzalez were on fire. Frank Zappa’s tunes contained whimsical female voices along with serious style. Both Scheila and Cian added their parts with conviction. Cian alone – stealing the spotlight throughout the evening with power, finesse and grace. An indication the ‘top forty’ radio female vocalists are nowhere near the best. Scheila no slouch either as her vocals more than impressed and her Sax playing otherworldly. Frank would be proud.

Call Any Vegetable, Tell Me You Love Me and T’Mershi Duween. Three more tunes which only the die hard Frank fans know aside from the band.

Drummer Ryan Brown, bassist Kurt Morgan, Chris Norton on keys and guitarist / vocalist Adam Minkoff were on the same bus. Travelling the Zappa songbook at light-speed. Shining alone when called upon and perfectly in sync with grooves as sweet as the most perfect five hour Funk jam. The completeness allowing Dweezil to do his thang.

Steve Vai was one of Dweezil’s teachers back in the day. Frank Zappa was one of Dweezil’s muses. Dweezil has worked with every guitar player worth their weight in gold. Nothing could go wrong within a solo and Dweezil’s own curiosity to grow as an artist – adds to the special moments when Dweezil takes the spotlight.

Suzy Creamcheese, Valley Girl, Zoot Allures, Don’t Eat the Yellow Snow and Joe’s Garage – the show and the intensity continued.

Serious musicians playing serious licks. Only the students of music can understand and appreciate Dweezil’s (The Muthas) take on his Father’s songs. Only serious students of music can appreciate Frank Zappa and his genius.

They can describe Frank Zappa’s music …

Visit Dweezil Here !

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Rick Keene Music Scene – Jake Burns Still Has ‘Stiff Little Fingers’

Some bands fall through the cracks as far as recognition goes. Stiff Little Fingers are one of those bands.

Born at the height of Punk music’s global popularity, the band emerged from a Country that was not known for Rock music.

‘I have no doubt there were many talented musicians and songwriters in Ireland …” Says original and current member and songwriter Jake Burns. ” Due to the fear factor of losing jobs (that were few and far between) and the non acceptance of Northern Ireland musicians due to the political unrest in Ireland, sadly many chose or were forced to stay put.”

Stiff Little Fingers, a group of schoolboy friends formed in 1977. A time when groups such as The Ramones and The Sex Pistols were gaining momentum. It was another band however which many comparisons were made.

“Everyone kept telling us we sounded like The Clash and we were asked if they were a huge influence.” Says Burns on the eve of their November 10th show in Montreal. “We never really spoke with the guys from The Clash and wondered if they took us as a threat or admired us.”

Four albums in three years starting in 1979 saw the band emerge as a voice of unrest for not only the people of Ireland – the entire world. Punk music and Stiff Little Fingers were affecting fans and non fans alike.

“When I started writing songs, I had a little difficulty coming up with ideas and they were forced’ Says Burns. ” I spoke with someone and once I realized it is important to write what you know – that is when things changed for me as a songwriter and the band.

Stiff Little Fingers then suffered the same fate as many bands. Knowing each other for so long and being on the road and always together, the fighting started.

” All these years later, in hindsight – all we needed to do was to take a step back and we would have been fine …” Admits Jake. ” It was not about dislike, it was about the stress of the business and a lot of pressure to maintain a band.”

In 1987, following a hiatus and Jake partaking in a solo effort and collaborations, Stiff Little Fingers reunited and despite the words of the music business; The Fingers embarked on what would become a very successful tour in Germany to sold out crowds. Burns and the band have never looked back.

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Since their reformation, Stiff Little Fingers have released six albums with the last being the critically acclaimed 2014’s ‘No Going Back’.

Jake Burns still follows the recipe of writing what he knows for success.

” I went through some major life changes such as a divorce and relocation to a different continent and I did not think anyone would want to listen to a middle age guy sing about a mid-life crisis and divorce. Luckily I was wrong …”

Stiff Little Fingers are in Montreal Saturday night November 10th at Foufounes Electriques.

Get Tickets Here !

Visit Stiff Little Fingers Here

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Rick Keene Music Scene – Reuben and The Dark; A Musical Success For Album Number Two

Rarely does a band come along which evokes feelings of hope within despair. Reuben and The Dark are that band.

Just five years in and (now) two albums under their belts, Reuben and the Dark are setting Canada on fire as they tour the vastness.

Arms of a Dream is their latest recorded offering and in 2014 they released their ‘rookie’ disc; Funeral Sky.

Please listen below to my chat with Reuben Bullock about the new disc and hear some great tunes !

Reuben? What’s up?

Visit Reuben Here !

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Rick Keene Music Scene – Barbra Lica Is ‘A Little Bit Country’ On Her New Album

The word Jazzify is now a new thing …

Barbra Lica is one of the fastest -rising Jazz singers in Canada. Her last album – I’m Still Learning’, gained Barbra a Juno nomination for best Jazz album.

Stick to Jazz Barbra! Right?

Wrong.

By mistake – Barbra stumbled into Country music while learning her songwriting craft. The rest is present-day history.

Please listen below to my chat with Barbra and hear some great tunes from the new album; You’re Fine.

Barbra? What’s up?

 

 

Visit Barbra Here !

 

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Rick Keene Music Scene – A Zappa Doesn’t Fall Far From The Zappa Tree. PART TWO

Frank Zappa was all about artistic integrity. His son Dweezil is also …

Authenticity within sound is crucial to creating and delivering the art of music. Both Zappas live by that credo.

Please listen below to  Part Two of my chat with Dweezil Zappa as we chat about various topics including Frank Zappa’s foreshadowing. 

Dweezil? What’s up?

 

Visit Dweezil Here !

 

 

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Rick Keene Music Scene – A Zappa Doesn’t Fall Far From The Zappa Tree.

Playing guitar very well must be a DNA thing …

Frank Zappa’s son Dweezil, is a chip off the old block even though it is not sought out. Call it instinct, call it learned behavior or call it genetic – the artistic blood does circulate and will eventually come out in layered colors.

Please listen below to  Part One of my chat with Dweezil Zappa. Topics include his Dad, his guitar playing and many other interesting tidbits. Stay tuned for Part Two. 

Dweezil? What’s up?

 

Visit Dweezil Here !

 

 

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Rick Keene Music Scene – Local Nurse Chantal Guimond Realizes Her Dreams

A nurse has one of the most stressful  jobs in Montreal.

Chantal Guimond knows this very well. A veteran of nursing for thirty years. -music has always been her source of relaxation following a hard shift.

Creating music has always been a dream and now Chantal has obtained step one. A CD and an official launch just the beginning of what may be a post retirement career.

Please listen below to my chat with Chantal and hear some great tunes!

Chantal?

 

Visit Chantal Here !

 

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Rick Keene Music Scene – Ladies and Gentlemen; The Winner of The Quebec to Memphis Blues Challenge Justin Saladino

Only the good die young …

The Blues are steeped in tradition of making deals with the Devil at the crossroads. Bad in the Blues is a good thing.

Justin Saladino and his band were the baddest thing on stage Tuesday night as they competed and won The Quebec to Memphis Blues Challenge. The next step? Conquering the biggest Blues stage in the world.

Please listen below to my chat with Justin about the win and his steadfast work ethic to be better all the time.

Justin? What’s up?

Visit Justin Here !

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Rick Keene Music Scene – Chris Velan is No ‘Amateur’ on Latest Album

Montreal singer and songwriter Chris Velan has it right.

His latest album contains lyrics so human, so profound and so unique – the only thing missing is an old landline telephone.

 

Please listen below as Chris explains ‘Amateur Hour’ among other things.

Chris? What’s up?

 

Visit Chris Here !

 

 

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Rick Keene Music Scene – The Five Finalists for The Quebec to Memphis Blues Challenge 2018

Every year someone heads to Memphis …

This year is no different.

Five bands have been chosen as the finalists in 2018. Five different sounds all within the confines of the Blues formula. Different but with the very familiar sound which propelled the legends of Rock n Roll to super-stardom.

Have a listen below to five songs from five artists. Can you choose a winner?

 

Visit the Montreal Blues Society Here !

 

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Rick Keene Music Scene – Joe Louis Walker; Every True Bluesman Tells a Story …

Joe Louis Walker understands the Blues …

The guitar player was around to witness the Blues being introduced to California in the late sixties and the early seventies. Being privy to guys like Mike Bloomfield and Paul Butterfield.

Please listen below to my chat with Joe about Mike Bloomfield’s influence on The Blues scene and Joe’s new record; JourneysTo The Heart Of The Blues

Joe? What’s up?

 

Visit Joe Here !

 

 

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Jarekus Singleton – Taking the Blues into the Future !

Jarekus Singleton was on his way into the National Basketball Association when a funny thing happened …

Well, not so funny …

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It was a devastating blow to Jarekus, a wound that has not quite healed. Good thing for music …

Please listen as Jarekus Singleton – one of the finest and brightest young stars in music explain his music, B.B King and his way of dealing with a career change.

Jarekus?

 

Vist Jarekus Here!

 

Jarrett Lobley Project Click Here !
Jarrett Lobley Project
Click Here !

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Joe Louis Walker Pays Tribute to His Friend … B.B. King. Part One

Joe Louis Walker had an opportunity most people do not …

 

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Not only did Joe get to play with B. B. King – he also became friends with the Godfather of The Blues.

Playing on three albums with B.B. and heading up King’s band – affords Joe the right to pay homage to one of his idols.

Please listen below to part one of my interview with Joe.

 

Visit Joe Here!


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Click Here!
Click Here!

 

 

Joe Louis Walker; Full Interview

Joe Louis Walker just recently returned from a tour which brought him to Australia. He hooked up with some fellows who were schooled in the Blues. Mick, Keith, Charlie  – along with Joe’s pal Ronnie Wood, love talkin’ about the Blues.

Joe loves talking about the Blues also so a match made in heaven; a gross understatement …

Joe and Mick
Joe and Mick

Please listen as Joe discusses many topics including the present and the future of the Blues along with some very interesting insights.

Joe?

 

 

 

Visit Joe Here!

 

 

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Altered Five Blues Band; The Next Generation of The Blues

Altered Five Blues Band. 

Remember those words. A bunch of guys who are not only carrying on the tradition of The Blues, a band who are doing it their way.

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Together (as the current formation for ten years), the boys – led by singer J .T.; are starting to reap the awards they have worked so hard for …

Starting with Blues Band of the Year in Winsconsin.

Their home state, honoring the boys with the highest honor possible. A real feather in the Blues cap for a unit focusing on bringing the Blues, their Blues –  a step higher.

That step consists of working with one of the most respected producers in music …

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The band’s new album; Cryin’ Mercywas produced by Tom Hambridge. Tom is best known for producing Buddy Guy’s last three albums, Susan Tedeschi, Johnny Winter, James Cotton, Joe Louis Walker, and many more. The tracks were recorded in Madison, WI and mixed by Hambridge and Michael Saint-Leon at the Switchyard in Nashville, TN.

Please listen as J.T explains everything . Hear some great tunes as well!

JT?

 

Visit The Altered Five Blues Band Here!

 

Donate Here!
Donate Here!

 

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What’s Happening on Rick Keene Music Scene

A preview, a review – call it what you want, it is what it is …

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Please listen to some Blues, some Jazz and a track from an artist who I will be interviewing next.

Thanks for listening – talk soon …

 

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Joe Louis Walker; Hornet’s Nest – A ‘Feel Good’ Record

Blues guitarist Joe Louis Walker has been around more than most.

Rooming with legend Mike Bloomfield or hanging around with Jimi Hendrix and Ron Wood, let us say; Joe knows the Blues.

Hornet’s Nest is his latest labor of love and it will be released on the 25th of February. A fun-filled addition to his vast catalog. A blend of Blues, Gospel and …?

Joe?

Visit Alligator Records Here!

BLUES FOUNDATION ANNOUNCES

2014 BLUES HALL OF FAME INDUCTEES

MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE; February 12, 2014. During the first 34 years of the Blues Hall of Fame balloting, only one saxophonist, Louis Jordan, was elected. The Year of the Saxophonist has come, however, in 2014, as three sax men–Big Jay McNeely, Eddie Shaw, and Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson–blow their way into the Blues Hall. Two other performers–Mississippi hill country patriarch R.L. Burnside and the intense and inimitableRobert Pete Williams-will also be inducted in May.

Among the other individuals to be recognized by The Blues Foundation for their behind-the-scenes contributions: The Rosebud Agency’smanager and booking agent par excellenceMike Kappus, Houston music mogul and label owner Don Robey,and prolific Chicago record producer and writer Dick Shurman.

 

The book Dream Boogie: The Triumph of Sam Cooke by Peter Guralnick is the literature entry into the Blues Hall of Fame this year. This is Peter’s fourth book inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame.

These albums are being honored: Hawk Squat (Delmark, 1969) by J.B. Hutto andMoanin’ in the Moonlight (Chess, 1959) by Howlin’ Wolf.

The following singles will be inducted during the ceremony: “After Hours” by Erskine Hawkins and His Orchestra (Bluebird, 1940); “Catfish Blues” by Robert Petway(Bluebird, 1941); “High Water Everywhere, Parts I & II” by Charley Patton (Paramount, 1930); “It’s Tight Like That” by Tampa Red & Georgia Tom (Vocalion, 1928); and “Milk Cow Blues” by Kokomo Arnold (Decca, 1934).

Inductees’ official biographies and descriptions are available, as well as all Hall of Fame inductees, at http://www.blues.org/halloffame/index.php.

The induction ceremony will be held Wednesday, May 7, at the Sheraton Memphis Downtown in Memphis, Tennessee, the night before the 35th Blues Music Awards. With living musicians like B.B. King and Buddy Guy, and legends like Muddy Waters and Koko Taylor, the Blues Hall of Fame consists of blues music’s best and brightest stars.

The Blues Foundation is now in the final stages of raising the capital needed to showcase these legendary performers and their work with Blues Hall of Fame exhibits at its 421 S. Main headquarters in downtown Memphis. The Blues Hall of Fame will honor inductees year round, provide interactive and educational exhibits, and create a place for serious blues fans, casual visitors, and students to congregate, celebrate and learn more about the Blues. The Raise the Roof! campaign hopes to raise the remaining funds necessary to commence construction in June of this year.

On May 9, the night after the Blues Hall of Fame inductions, The Blues Foundation will present the Blues Music Awards for the 35th time. Performers, industry representatives and fans from around the world will celebrate the best in Blues recording, songwriting and performance from the previous year at the Memphis Cook Convention Center in downtown Memphis.

For tickets and more information, visit www.blues.org.

Major funding is provided by ArtsMemphis and the Tennessee Arts Commission. The 35th Blues Music Awards and Blues Hall of Fame events are also sponsored by BMI, Catfood Records, Eagle Rock Entertainment, First Tennessee Foundation, Jontaar Creative Studios, Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise, Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company and Sony/Legacy Records.

The Blues Foundation is Memphis-based, but world-renown as THE organization dedicated to preserving our blues music history, celebrating recording and performance excellence, supporting blues education and ensuring the future of this uniquely American art form. Founded in 1980, The Blues Foundation has 4000 individual members and 200 affiliated local blues societies representing another 50,000 fans and professionals around the world. Its signature honors and events–the Blues Music Awards, Blues Hall of Fame, International Blues Challenge and Keeping the Blues Alive Awards–make it the international center of blues music. Its HART Fund provides the blues community with medical assistance while its Sound Healthcare program offers musicians health insurance access. Blues in the Schools programs and Generation Blues scholarships expose new generations to blues music. Throughout the year, the Foundation staff serves the worldwide Blues community with answers, contact information and news.

2014 Blues Hall of Fame Inductees

Performers

R.L. Burnside was a champion of Mississippi hill country blues who was able to energize rock audiences just as he did local juke joint revelers. He achieved crossover success by attracting a cult following among young college-age crowds with his infectious rhythms and good humor, and by agreeing with his producers at Fat Possum Records to collaborate with indie rock musicians and to submit his blues to sampling, scratching and digital programming. Although his 1990s studio product caused some reviewers and listeners to define his sound as progressive blues, Burnside himself was a traditional bluesman who never changed the way he played, and entertained live audiences as he always had.

Burnside was born in the Harmantown community near Oxford, Mississippi — where he would later become an Ole Miss favorite and Fat Possum artist — on November 23, 1926. He sometimes said his initials stood for Robert Lee, but he was also called “Rule,” and Social Security records cite his name as Rural or Rural L. Burnside. His musical inspiration came from his neighbor, Mississippi Fred McDowell, and Ranie Burnette, and he entertained at house parties, juke joints and local gatherings in the Holly Springs area while working in the cotton fields and catching and selling fish. Burnside also lived for a few years in Chicago where he grew close to another influence, Muddy Waters. His first recordings, made in 1968 by folklorist George Mitchell, appeared on Arhoolie Records and, as his reputation grew, he made many more records and began traveling to appear at blues festivals and clubs, in the U.S. and overseas. He usually performed alone with his guitar but, as patriarch of a growing brood of musicians, he began playing with his sons and other family members, and the addition of hard-driving drumming to the rhythm of his guitar grooves gave his music an electric edge that bode well for expanding his audiences.

Six of Burnside’s later albums, some of them done with Jon Spencer or Tom Rothrock, made the Billboard blues charts. With this success, a spate of Burnside albums appeared on various labels, the result of tapes Burnside had happily agreed to make during earlier years for any fan who showed up with a tape machine. He died at St. Francis Hospital in Memphis on September 1, 2005. The family blues legacy has been carried on by sons Duwayne, Garry and Daniel, grandsons Cedric and Kent, and several other Burnsides.

Big Jay McNeely became the act no one wanted to follow during the “honkers and shouters” era of rhythm & blues that preceded rock ‘n’ roll, when the gunslingers of the trade wielded saxophones, not electric guitars. McNeely, “The Wild Man of the Saxophone,” launched sonic assaults while lying on his back, walking the bar or leading a procession out the door, driving his young audiences into a frenzy. While less acrobatic now that he’s in his eighties, McNeely has still maintained his instrumental prowess and his talent for exciting a crowd.

Born on April 29, 1927, in Watts, when the neighborhood had yet to be incorporated into the city of Los Angeles, Cecil James McNeely played jazz and classical music in high school. He graduated into the rocking world of R&B at the Barrelhouse, a club co-owned by Johnny Otis, who hired McNeely to play on a recording session in 1948. Savoy Records’ A&R man Ralph Bass signed McNeely to a contract and label owner Herman Lubinsky gave him the name “Big Jay.” His Savoy instrumental Deacon’s Hop hit No. 1 on Billboard‘s “race music” charts in 1949. McNeely continued to record for other labels, including Exclusive, Aladdin and Federal, but it was as a live act, both locally and on tour, that he had his greatest impact. The Los Angeles Sentinel reported in 1955 that the “inimitable brand of excitement imparted by his music was recently studied by a psychiatric board engaged in youth activities.” Varying and expanding his show, he added doo-wop groups to the revue and performed with glow-in-the-dark instruments and strobe lights. His over-the-top showmanship reportedly influenced a youngster who saw McNeely’s show in Seattle named James (later Jimi) Hendrix.

As musical trends changed, McNeely recruited a singer, Little Sonny Warner, for his band, and together they recorded his best-remembered song, the blues ballad There is Something on Your Mind, a 1959 hit which bore no trace of McNeely’s raucous honking. Within a few years, though, finding fewer outlets for his music, he took a job at the post office and continued the Jehovah’s Witness ministry he had adopted in his youth. In the 1980s a revival of interest in vintage R&B led to his return to the stage, as he excited a new generation of audiences around the world. McNeely was profiled in the 1995 Jim Dawson book Nervous Man Nervous: Big Jay McNeely & the Rise of the Honking Tenor Saxophone.

Eddie Shaw continues to build upon his unparalleled career as a Chicago blues saxophonist/bandleader in a city where guitar, harmonica and piano players have long ruled the roost. A multiple Blues Music Award winner and perpetual nominee in the Instrumentalist–Horn category, Shaw has blown his industrial-strength sax with the likes of Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters and Magic Sam. And with his Wolf Gang he has racked up the most road mileage of all Chicago bands over the past four decades, crisscrossing the country from Maine, where his upbeat, high-energy blues is a particular favorite, to countless points south and west.

Shaw, born March 20, 1937, in Stringtown, Mississippi, learned saxophone at school in nearby Greenville, Mississippi, the hub of blues activity in the Delta. He continued at Mississippi Vocational College (now Mississippi Valley State University) in Itta Bena, meanwhile working or sitting in with Little Milton, Ike Turner, Charlie Booker, Elmore James and others, including Muddy Waters when he brought his band down from Chicago. Muddy was so impressed that he offered Shaw a spot in the band, and before long the sax phenom was a Windy City resident. His most significant work in establishing himself in Chicago, both in the clubs and in the studio, came with Magic Sam and Howlin’ Wolf. Shaw also ran a laundry business, an air conditioning service and blues clubs on the West Side. After Wolf died in 1976, Shaw took over the band, with Hubert Sumlin on guitar, and initiated a tireless touring itinerary. His son Eddie “Vaan” Shaw, Jr., soon assumed guitar duties and, along with bassist Shorty Gilbert, has now been with the Wolf Gang for more than 30 years. Shaw has recorded for Alligator, Rooster Blues, Delmark, Wolf, North Atlantic and other labels, and has found time in the studio to do sessions with Jimmy Dawkins, Willie Kent, Lonnie Shields, John Primer, Sunnyland Slim, George Thorogood, Big Head Todd and a growing list of others. His son Stan Shaw is a veteran Hollywood actor, and father Eddie made his own big screen debut in the 2007 film Honeydripper.

Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson was an acclaimed alto saxist who fit in comfortably in a variety of blues, jazz and R&B settings. A contemporary and admirer of Charlie Parker, he contributed to the first wave of bebop, but achieved his greatest popularity with his unique singing voice, which combined full-bodied blues shouting with a quirky, broken squeal. Vinson, born in Houston on December 18, 1917, played locally with the bands of Chester Boone and Milt Larkin before he was recruited to join trumpeter Cootie Williams’ orchestra in New York in 1942. Three of the records he made singing with Williams (Cherry Red BluesIs You Is Or Is You Ain’t and Somebody’s Got to Go) made the Top Ten ofBillboard magazine’s Harlem Hit Parade charts in 1944-45 and he won Esquire magazine’s jazz poll in the “New Stars” vocalist category. Leaving Williams to front his own band, Vinson scored more Billboard hits with the 1947 Mercury double-sider Old Maid Boogie/Kidney Stew Blues and his 1948 waxing of Somebody Done Stole My Cherry Redon King. Other favorites included his original version of the standard Person to Person, his cover of Big Bill Broonzy’s Just a Dream, and a number of tunes, such as Cleanhead Blues, touting his trademark baldness. (He shaved his head to maintain the look after first losing his hair to a lye-based hair straightener treatment gone awry.)

Vinson’s later recordings retained his characteristic warmth and humor and included albums with backing by Cannonball Adderley, Jay McShann, Mike Bloomfield and Roomful of Blues, collaborations with Count Basie, Joe Turner, T-Bone Walker and Oscar Peterson, and vocal and instrumental spots on sessions with Johnny Otis and others. He played alongside many other top names in blues and jazz at different points during his long career, from accompanying Big Bill and Lil Green to hiring a young John Coltrane as a sideman. Following his years in New York, Vinson returned to Houston and spent time in Detroit and Kansas City before settling in Los Angeles to enjoy a career revival during his last two decades, recording prolifically and making several European tours. “Mr. Cleanhead” died in Los Angeles on July 2, 1988.

Robert Pete Williams made his first recordings in the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola in 1959 while serving time for murder. Folklorist Dr. Harry Oster was in search of work songs but found instead one of the most original blues artists ever in Williams, who wailed and played guitar with ominous passion and intensity in a visceral style outside the bounds of traditional musical structure, rhyme and meter. Oster’s co-worker Richard Allen noted, “He did unorthodox things. He’d be in three modes at once.” Williams often made up lyrics and improvised accompaniments (picked rather than chorded) as he played, and his subject matter could be stark and disturbing. In one of his best known songs, Grown So Ugly, he looks in the mirror and moans, “I got so ugly I don’t even know myself.” The spontaneous nature of his music made it all but inimitable and it was fitting that one of the few musicians to cover Grown So Ugly was an equally unconventional rock icon, Captain Beefheart.

Robert Williams, who added the nickname Pete as a teenager, was born in Zachary, Louisiana, near Baton Rouge, on March 14, 1914. He played music at local gatherings but made his living by farming and working at a dairy, a lumber yard and other odd jobs until he shot a man, in self-defense, he claimed, in a barroom altercation. He entered Angola in 1956 and earned a work parole in 1959 with the support of Oster and others (in a scenario reminiscent of Lead Belly. After songs from his prison sessions appeared on the Louisiana Folklore Society label, the burgeoning folk-blues revival was ready to welcome Williams. His photo appeared in the national press along with news of an invitation to appear at the 1960 Newport Folk Festival. But the parole board refused him permission to travel, and he continued to work on a local farm until his time was served. His long-anticipated Newport debut in 1964 was recorded by Vanguard, and during the 1960s and ’70s he saw albums released on Folk Lyric, Arhoolie, Bluesville, Takoma and several European labels. He performed widely at folk and blues clubs and various festivals, endearing himself in the process to an international audience who found him anything but murderous. His music made him famous among a select segment of the blues world but not prosperous at home; his jobs during his years of freedom included collecting and selling scrap iron. Williams died on December 31, 1980, in Rosedale, Louisiana.

Individuals (Business, Academic, Media & Production)

Mike Kappus has been the kind of manager and booking agent any musician would want, and the blues world is filled with musicians who wish they could have been represented by his Rosebud Agency. The example he set guiding careers, booking jobs, finding record deals and championing artists’ rights with dedication and drive made him one of the most respected men in the business. To do his most effective work, however, Kappus kept his roster select and small, and in so doing, he was able to elevate the careers of John Lee Hooker, Robert Cray and others to new heights. Hooker, who served as best man at Kappus’ wedding, once said, “Mr. Kappus has done more for me than any agent I ever had . . . He is a very strong young man. He don’t back down.”

Kappus got his start booking bands in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, where he was born in May 24, 1950. He later worked for two Milwaukee agencies, TGC Productions, and Contemporary Talent, and brought a number of blues acts to town, including Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Willie Dixon and Freddie King, in addition to booking a blues stage at Milwaukee’s Summerfest. He relocated to San Francisco to join the Keystone Music Agency and in 1976 he founded Rosebud. Kappus’ personal management clients have included Hooker, Cray, John Hammond, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, J.J. Cale and Trombone Shorty. As a booking agency, Rosebud also represented Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon, George Thorogood, Allen Toussaint, Albert Collins, Pops and Mavis Staples, Ben Harper, Ruthie Foster and others. At the end of 2013 Kappus, a recipient of multiple Keeping the Blues Alive awards, closed the booking business of Rosebud but he continues his management work, as well as his service to nonprofit groups. Kappus has aided environmental, educational, human rights and cross-cultural organizations with his volunteer work. He originated the idea for and initially funded The Blues Foundation’s HART Fund which since 2003 has paid medical and funeral expenses for blues musicians in need.

Don Robey built one of the most formidable entertainment empires in the independent music business with his Duke and Peacock labels, Buffalo Booking Agency, Lion Music publishing company, nightclubs, and other associated activities. His hardnosed business tactics made him a controversial figure, but many of his artists, including his first Peacock signee, Gatemouth Brown, and longtime Duke star Bobby Bland, who recorded for Duke for 20 years, spoke of him with admiration and respect.

Robey was born in Houston on November 1, 1903, to a white mother and black father, a professional chef. Robey, who lived with his mother on a cotton farm as a teenager, dropped out of high school to pursue a gambling career. He chauffeured and labored on the docks in Galveston before he worked at or owned a series of restaurants and nightclubs in Houston in the 1930s, including the Sweet Dreams Cafe, Lenox Club and Harlem Grill, a large dance hall where he and partner Morris Merritt brought in top-flight big band entertainment. Robey and Merritt were longtime associates in promotion and management and were later joined by Evelyn Johnson in the Buffalo Booking Agency. Robey learned more of the business during a stay in Los Angeles, and back in Houston he opened the upscale Bronze Peacock Dinner Club, another major performance venue. In 1949 Robey launched Peacock Records and later acquired Duke and added the Back Beat, Sure Shot and Song Bird labels. At one point his company was regarded as the most successful black-owned record business in America, with multiple hits by Big Mama Thornton, Bobby Bland, Junior Parker, Johnny Ace, O.V. Wright, and a sterling roster of gospel acts including the Dixie Hummingbirds, Five Blind Boys and Sensational Nightingales. The labels’ performers were signed to booking and management contracts as well, as was B.B. King. Under the pseudonym Deadric (his middle name) Malone (his wife’s maiden name), Robey published many songs he wrote or bought outright from songwriters. Robey’s operations at times also included a record store, pressing plant and print shop. Robey sold his firm to ABC in 1973 and stayed on as a consultant, but his new position did not last long. He died of heart failure at St. Luke’s Hospital in Houston on June 16, 1975.

Dick Shurman is widely recognized in the blues community not only for the quality and care evident in his record productions and writings but also for his love for the music and the artists who sing and play it. His producing credits include albums by Albert Collins, Johnny Winter, Magic Slim, Charlie Musselwhite, Earl Hooker, Fenton Robinson, Roy Buchanan, Eddie C. Campbell and Lurrie Bell, and his bibliography includes articles for Blues Unlimited, Living Blues and Juke Blues, book chapters, and over 100 album liner notes. He has compiled numerous reissues and put in decades of service with the Chicago Blues Festival advisory committee. What makes his accomplishments even more remarkable is that he has compiled this Hall of Fame-quality blues resume while holding down non-music-related full-time jobs in a library system.

Shurman was born May 23, 1950, in Los Alamos, New Mexico, and lived in Milwaukee and Madison, Wisconsin, before Boeing offered his father a job in Seattle. Inspired by blues he discovered on the radio, on records and with friends in Seattle, Shurman headed straight for blues mecca when he enrolled at the University of Chicago in 1968. He began befriending blues artists, submitting articles to Blues Unlimited, and making tapes in the clubs (including some by Earl Hooker that were released on LP), but found himself so drawn to the clubs that he decided it would interfere with his studies. He returned to Seattle to earn his degrees, including a master’s in library science from the University of Washington. With the degree he was able to return to the Chicago area and start work at a suburban library, enabling him to earn a living without depending on income from the blues.

A former contributing editor with Living Blues, Shurman interviewed a number of artists he would later produce in the studio, including Albert Collins, Otis Rush, Jody Williams, Johnny Heartsman, Andrew Brown and Lee Shot Williams. His rapport with the musicians extended beyond the studios and clubs as he developed lasting personal friendships, just as he did with a worldwide network of blues aficionados. He continues to produce and write with insight and to display his well-known talents as a punster and as a font of blues anecdotes, printable and otherwise.

Classic of Blues Literature

Dream Boogie: The Triumph of Sam Cooke, by Peter Guralnick (Little, Brown and Company, 2005)

Dream Boogie is the fourth book by Peter Guralnick, America’s premier music biographer, to attain Blues Hall of Fame status. In this meticulously researched and detailed 750-page opus, Guralnick delves into the mind, music and soul of Sam Cooke and follows his trail, stop by stop, from his gospel days to his crossover to R&B and pop stardom to his tragic and controversial demise in a Los Angeles motel. Cooke’s talent extended to the blues and he especially admired Charles Brown, as Guralnick notes; Cooke even invited Brown to play piano on one of his sessions. The changing social landscape that soul, gospel and blues singers traversed in the 1960s is one of many fascinating themes in the book, along with the complex nature of Cooke’s personality. A champion of independence, freedom and equality, Cooke also had his demons, foibles, and a ruthless business side. Guralnick lays bare the details as no one has done before or since.

Classic of Blues Recording: Single or Album Track

After Hours – Erskine Hawkins and His Orchestra (Bluebird, 1940)

As a counterpoint to the boogie woogie piano craze of the era, trumpeter-bandleader Erskine Hawkins turned pianist Avery Parrish loose to wax a slow, atmospheric instrumental blues on a June 10, 1940, session in New York. Hawkins and his horn men come in only at the end of the song, leaving it a showcase for Parrish’s moody pianistics. The lastingly popular (and often rereleased) After Hours (first issued as Bluebird B-10879) earned the unofficial title of the “Negro national anthem” and was a tune every club or lounge pianist needed to know, regardless of their race or preferred musical genre. It also served as a theme for several radio programs. The record brought national fame to Parrish, a member of Hawkins’ band dating back to its ‘Bama State Collegians origins in Birmingham, but in 1943 he was hit over the head with a bar stool and was never able to perform again.

Catfish Blues – Robert Petway (Bluebird, 1941)

Delta blues guitarist Robert Petway helped establish an enduring downhome blues theme with his March 28, 1941, recording of Catfish Blues in Chicago (Bluebird B8838). Many other bluesmen have since sung their own renditions of Petway’s line, “Well, if was a catfish, mama, I said swimmin’ deep down in deep blue sea, all these gals now, sweet mama, settin’ out hooks for me, settin’ out hooks for me . . .” Petway’s friend Tommy McClennan recorded a similar Deep Blue Sea Blues later in 1941, and Muddy Waters most famously reworked the catfish verse as the opening line of his smoldering classic Rollin’ Stone in 1950. Kokomo Arnold had earlier (1935) sung, “I’d rather be a catfish down in the Gulf of Mexico.” None of the other versions, however, were carried by such a propulsive rhythmic drive as Petway provided on this flailing guitar workout.

High Water Everywhere, Parts I & II – Charley Patton (Paramount, 1930)

Often regarded as Delta blues king Charley Patton’s masterpiece, the two-part High Water Everywhere is a dramatic account of the flooding that inundated parts of the Mississippi Delta and Arkansas in 1927 (and perhaps later). Patton sings of the devastation and death and works over his guitar with a force that builds as the song progresses, bringing an immediacy to an event that occurred some two and a half years before the session. Perhaps one reason, as Patton scholar Dr. David Evans has suggested, is that Part II, in which the scene shifts from Mississippi to Arkansas, may have been inspired by flood waters that threatened Arkansas again in January 1930. The date for this session is usually reported as circa October 1929 but Paramount discographers now believe it was early February 1930. The record was released as Paramount 12909 in April of 1930.

It’s Tight Like That – Tampa Red & Georgia Tom (Vocalion, 1928)

Guitarist Tampa Red and pianist Georgia Tom joined together in a playful vocal duet to rework of a hot street slang phrase of the 1920s into a genre-crossing national hit. It’s Tight Like That, a prime example of the good-time music known as hokum, was cut in Chicago on October 24, 1928 (Vocalion 1216), and was widely recorded by blues, jazz and country artists, including several sequels by Tampa Red (Hudson Whittaker) and Georgia Tom (Thomas A. Dorsey, who was later to be hailed as “the father of gospel music”).

Milk Cow Blues – Kokomo Arnold (Decca, 1934)

Milk Cow Blues (Decca 7026), a solo performance by slide guitarist James “Kokomo” Arnold, was one of the biggest blues hits to come out of Chicago in the 1930s. Decca kept it in print with a popular reissue in 1946 and in the meantime it was adapted not only by other bluesmen, but by Western swing bands, including Bob Wills & his Texas Playboys and Johnnie Lee Wills. Elvis Presley recorded a Wills-influenced version on Sun in 1954 and it has been covered many times since by artists ranging from Willie Nelson to Aerosmith. Arnold’s song, recorded on September 10, 1934, is not the same as earlier Milk Cow Bluesby Sleepy John Estes and Freddie Spruell, and is recognizable both for its “If you see my milk cow, please drive her home” lyrics and Arnold’s influential phrasing of “You gonna needmy help some day.” Robert Johnson answered it in 1937 with Milkcow Calf’s Blues, the last song he ever recorded.

Classic of Blues Recording: Album

Hawk Squat! – J.B. Hutto (Delmark, 1969)

In his liner notes to Hawk Squat! (Delmark DS-617), producer Bob Koester called J.B. Hutto and the Hawks “the most exciting, roughest blues band in Chicago,” and he set out to capture the Hutto sound he heard at Turner’s Blue Lounge in the South Side ghetto. The power of Hutto’s roared, sometimes almost unintelligible vocals, ripping slide guitar, and hard-hitting band work emphatically drove home the point on these sessions. Joining Frank Kirkland, Lee Jackson and other Hawks on the tracks were special guests Sunnyland Slim and, from Delmark’s modern jazz roster, Maurice McIntyre blowing his tenor sax in a blues mode. One track, Hutto’s popular Hip-Shakin’ — which is missing from some pressings of the original LP — was recorded at a club, Mother Blues, in 1966, and the rest came from two studio dates in 1968. Although often cited as a 1968 release, Blues Unlimited magazine reported a delayed release date of 1969.

Moanin’ in the Moonlight – Howlin’ Wolf (Chess, 1959)

Moanin’ in the Moonlight (Chess 1434) was the first compilation of Wolf’s work to be issued on LP, in 1959, and marks the fifth time the Blues Hall of Fame has inducted a Wolf album on Chess. As with most of his other Chess LPs, this was a collection of singles, here including four of the five tracks that hit the Billboard charts as 78s or 45s in the ’50s — the double-sided 1951 Memphis recording of Moanin’ at Midnight/How Many More Years, plus Smokestack Lightnin’ and I Asked for Water (She Gave Me Gasoline) from 1956 Chicago sessions. Other tracks are just as highly regarded as classics today, including Forty Four, No Place to Go and Evil. Adding to Wolf’s unmatched ferocity is a brilliant pack of sidemen, including guitarists Jody Williams, Hubert Sumlin, Willie Johnson and the unsung Lee Cooper. This music is all available today, of course, on multiple reissue sets, but for an introduction back in 1959, Chess could hardly have done better.

 

Joe Louis Walker Knows The Blues Part Three

After all these years in the business …

Jlwandbonnieraitt1Joe Louis Walker is still having fun.

“I am having fun because a lot of guys who taught me – so many guys who invested in me as a musician with a kind word; like Muddy Waters allowing me to open for him in Toronto … I feel as I solidified so many people’s faith in me. It solidifies my Mom and Dad‘s faith in me. My kids and my Grand-kids … To be able to say i am still alive and be allowed to do what I do. By the grace of God, I am not laying on a slab like so many musicians.”

Walker’s crowning achievement – so far, is the same as one of his mentors; Buddy Guy. Guy’s most fulfilling moment? Playing at the White House for President Obama following a youthful experience of pickin’ cotton …

” Same thing man … same thing!” Says Walker.” I was gathering produce as a sixteen year old and was watching my parents pick produce as a kid! I played for George Bush at the White House and seeing how the Blues got me from there to there – I know exactly what Buddy is talking about.”

Walker’s oldest daughter is a singer. She sings with him frequently and plays the keyboards. She has not recorded anything on her own but  Joe believes that is coming soon. Walker also has a Grandson. His birthday is the 28th of December, three days following Joe’s and ( according to Grandpa ) a great Christmas present (albeit a little late). Joe admits his Grandson is quite the harmonica player and would enjoy playing drums in the future.  According to Joe; ‘He beats on everything’!

Walker’s kid and Grandchild are the only things, music-wise – that Joe listens to under the age of thirty. The only music he listens to – on a regular basis …

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” I don’t like Pop music because it just repeats itself and I don’t have time to listen to the radio. Once in a while I will listen to a Blues station on Sirius or something but that’s about it …”

He continues.

“I was with Ronnie ( Wood ) a couple of weeks ago, and he introduces me to these kids. To show you how unattached I am – I leave the room and people are saying wow you met those guys? They are the biggest group in the world! I say what …? One Direction … ? I thought Ronnie said New Direction! I was wondering ’cause New Direction is a Black group!”

Joe Louis believes that every musician must start at the bottom. He uses everyone in music history as a refrence to that. Anyone who is worth his weight in talent. Elvis, Muddy … they all got their experience through the school of hard knocks.

“When these guys started out – everyone who was groundbreaking; The Stones, Elvis, The Beatles, Jimi, B.B. … they all were vilified. Elvis got run through the wringer for playing ‘that kind of music’ played by ‘those kind of people’. People wouldn’t speak to him and wouldn’t let him  in hotels. I love what Mick ( Jagger ) says – he says; ‘ We used to be the band that everyone hated, now – we are the band that everybody loves to love’. You have to have a sense of humor about it – that’s the key. These guys had guts. Imagine playing that ‘ kind ‘ of music back in the fifties and sixties? In America? In the South?”

Walker believes the world is better off now although he still encounters racism once in a while. He believes the world is more dangerous in many ways, yet the new generation is able to see various people in positions of power. Various people in positions to make decisions. The young adults are seeing that a lot of things they were told as kids are not  true. According to Joe – the youth are realizing everybody has a brain, everybody’s blood beats red and the President of the United States is an African American but he also just happened to be –  the smartest guy in the room.

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” I think kids today are shedding a lot of baggage that was given by my generation and they do not buy into it.” Explains Walker.” They do have a large task in front of them but they are prepared for it. They know they have to work on the environment, they know they have to work on woman’s and kid’s rights. They are less for war and realize that communication is a better option.”

He continues .

“They see that other people are not holding them back and they see wars are holding them back. They see that everyone deserves an education, not just rich people, not just Democrats and not just Republicans. Young people see that because they are experiencing it. They know they have to save the environment – they are aware that so goes the honeybees, so goes us. So goes the ice caps – so goes us. Young people have figured out that  Wall Street or whatever are the cause for many of the problems and that Wall Street is not a real purpose. A real purpose is to help people, a real purpose is not to have an agenda as a political party …”

Walker teaches master classes in places such as Spain and Turkey. He is surrounded by kids from all over the world and maintains a front row seat in his role as an observer of how  kids’ brains work …

“They all say ‘we have to save the planet’ and ‘take care of ‘humanistic things’ – not ‘materialistic things’.” Says Joe. “They believe if they have a billion dollars, maybe they should educate people to reverse Global Warming. Older people don’t care, they see a bear on an iceberg floating around by himself and they say; that’s a bear!” He laughs.” No! That’s not just a bear … that’s an icecap melting! That’s why there is a Tsunami every week! That’s why there is flooding in New Jersey and Colorado…”

Walker believes these problems will be rectified by the new generation just like his generation from the sixties had to deal with issues such as Vietnam and racism. It was not easy.

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” We did not buy into many things. We had to get rid of baggage but we had to march against it and fight. It wasn’t easy – people died for racism, people died for Vietnam and people are going to die now. People are going to die in Iraq, people are going to die in Afghanistan. If they get into Syria – they will die in Syria. You cannot go and colonize somewhere and live there. If you look  through history -usually the colonizer always has to leave.”

One guy who ‘left’ too soon (according to Walker) – was Stevie Ray Vaughan. A friend, a fellow blues-man and the only guy ( in Joe’s mind ) who came close to playing guitar like Jimi Hendrix. A man who Joe believes was just getting ‘soul’ in his voice before he passed away. Soul to match the feeling emanating from Vaughan’s guitar.

Walker’s all time favorite Blues guitarist and the man responsible for modern day Blues  – is B.B. King. His second choice …? Buddy Guy. Two players who respectively altered the way the Blues were played.

Joe Louis Walker’s recent album is titled ‘Hellfire’. A disc which is filled with fire and is reminiscent of the early seventies Stones’ sound. A dirty, gritty Blues album that combines classic riffs, feelings from the heart and a groove that won’t let feet rest …

In other words; a combination of B.B. King, Buddy Guy and Bo Diddley. In other words; a combination of every Blues player.

In other words; Joe Louis Walker …

Joe Louis Walker is at L’Astral in Montreal on Friday the 27th of September

Get tickets and info here!

Joe Louis Walker Knows The Blues Part Two

Joe Louis Walker is the biggest fan of The Rolling Stones and his opinion is not just biased. It is educated and he wants everyone to also educate themselves before they walk around judging the greatest Rock n Roll band in the world …

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“You are seeing a part of history!” Says Walker. ” Just go by the T.A.M.I show when the Stones had to close the show after James Brown and they brought the house down. Just watch ‘Charlie My Darlin’ – go see ‘Shine a Light‘ … where do you think Guns and Roses, Aerosmith and everyone else came from …? The Beatles educated everyone but put it like this; if a fourteen year old kid is sitting in a room with a guitar … what’s he gonna play? Michelle by The Beatles or any Stones song?  Then you can go to Bo Diddley and move on from there ….”

Walker has backed Bo Diddley ‘live’ and in the studio. Joe has also backed up and played with everyone who matters in the Blues and R and B scene.

Bonnie RaittBuddy GuyTaj MahalClarence “Gatemouth” BrownOtis RushScotty MooreRobert Lockwood, Jr.Matt “Guitar” MurphySteve Cropper,Tower Of Power, and Ike Turner. Legends. Men and women who inspired and taught him to be the player he is today …

“I love Bo …” Explains Walker. ” Yo had to love Bo, He was totally unique. That was the beauty of it – most music that is popular is ether unique or simple. Bo had both those elements and he remained unique to the day he died. He was simple and I know I mentioned it before but it is about simplicity. The Beatles and Stones and guys like Bo – man if they could not play a song on an acoustic guitar – they didn’t record it …”

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Joe Louis Walker starting playing guitar at the age of eight …

He was born in San Francisco and came from a musical family. His earliest musical influences were T-Bone WalkerB.B. KingMeade Lux LewisAmos Milburn, and Pete Johnson. By the time he hit his mid-teens – Walker was well known in the San Francisco Bay Area music scene. His musical influences grew …

“One of the first shows I saw was Little Richard.” Says Walker. ” It was at The Filmore auditorium. I went to Junior High School about a half a block from there. That was when it was an all black neighborhood. It was like Harlem before the hippies got there. Little Richard was doing his Gospel show in 1964 and  I brought my Grandma there for Easter Sunday. Little Richard had Jimi Hendrix playing guitar for him.”

He goes on …

jjoel” Then I saw the ‘ real’  Temptations there and guys like James Brown … Everyone came there – it was like our Apollo Theater. I was also there for all the hippie shows too. We used to have our battle of the bands there and that’s when I got to know Bill Graham and Mike Bloomfield. I lived right around the corner from Jerry Garcia and as a matter of fact – one of my first bass players was Jerry’s guitar tech. I loved Pigpen because all these guys were right into the Blues. Janis and her group –  John Cipollina from the Quick Messenger service … then I got to know the Funk guys. Sly ( Stone), Tower of Power … it was a great musical education. I was the young guy at the time …”

Wilson PickettJames BrownBobby Womack and Otis Redding all became part of his catalog – his arsenal of R and B and Blues. Walker then began his ‘playing education’. Taking the stage with  John Lee HookerJ.J. MaloneBuddy Miles,  Thelonious Monk, The Soul Stirrers, Willie Dixon,Charlie MusselwhiteSteve MillerNick LoweJohn MayallEarl HookerMuddy Waters, and Jimi Hendrix. It was a time when the airwaves were changing and by getting to know so many different performers – Walker learned an important lesson …

“I think – for me, not blowing my own horn – it kept it interesting for me to get to know so many different players and genres.” Says Walker.” I remember John Fogerty coming to the Fantasy studios – we were trying to write songs. That was before Credence Clearwater, when they were The Golliwogs. We were trying to get in the music business, We had stars in our eyes and that was before Fm radio. That was when songs were three minutes long until Bob Dylan came up with ‘Like a Rolling Stone’ at six minutes. That changed the industry. Now – it has come full circle and you can’t get airplay unless it is under three minutes …”

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Joe Louis Walker is in Montreal on Friday at L’Astral

Ticket Information and Details Here!

Visit Joe’s Site Here!

Joe Louis Walker Knows The Blues! Part One

Joe Louis Walker could have easily ended up like several of his friends …

Dead.

Passed on to that musical graveyard in the sky. A place which houses so many of not only his contemporaries – some of his closest pals. Jimi Hendrix and Mike Bloomfield to name but two. Musicians who – according to Joe, were tempted by the excesses of the music business and youth.

JLW-Hellfire“No doubt about it …” States the sixty-four year old student of the Blues. ” If I had gained stardom and success when I was a younger man, I would not be speaking to you right now. People forget the fact that when I talk about guys like Mike, Jimi and Stevie – I lost my friends man. I lost people who were close to me. It is a painful thing to lose someone we love.”

For those keeping track at home – Mike is the legendary Mike Bloomfield. A man who Joe lived with for several years. A man whose demons would not allow him to grow up – or old. Bloomfield succumbed to a heroin overdose in 1981. An unfortunate ( or fortunate for Joe) event which momentarily displaced Walker’s career as one of the Blues’ most talented guitar players.

Walker departed  the Blues scene as quick as he had entered.

Enrolling in San Francisco State University, a place where Walker achieved degrees in Music and English. Truth be told – Walker enrolled in a classroom to further his education and to further his longevity …

“It was not so much Mike’s death ( that was part of it), it was to get away from the whole music business and what comes with it.” Says Joe. ” There’s a lot of dangerous stuff in there and it has destroyed many people. It is the type of business which can show a person’s real character. I always say – it’s not how you handle success, the times when you are on top. It is how you handle falling and starting again. That’s what shows true character.”

He continues.

” Look at Jimi ( Hendrix) … He was a gentle soul with so much character. If he had surrounded himself with the right people, people who cared about him – he would still be here. Jimi had such a gentle soul and that is one thing which people don’t realize about him. A general misconception is that his best songs are full of fire. The truth is Jimi’s strength was in writing ballads. That’s where his talent was and it is a shame that many people don’t get that. Of course – that’s the fault of the business side which pumped songs like ‘Foxy Lady‘ and ‘ Purple Haze‘”

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Another guy whose reputation remains flawed is Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones. A man ( along with Ronnie Wood, Mick Jagger and Charlie Watts ) who Joe has forged a friendship with over the years. A guitar player who Walker believes is the only man in music who has stayed true to himself. A guitar play who throws no punches …

“Keith is one smart guy!” Explains Joe.” He is one of the most well read people in the business. One of the most well read people period. Have you seen the Stones’ shows when Keith does his part …?” Asks Walker. “The f*cking place goes nuts! Every time! You know why that is? Because people recognize who Keith is and what he has done. I mean that guy cannot lie. He lives and breathes music. He won’t lie about anything! You want the truth about Mick Jagger? Ask Keith. You want the truth about the Blues? Ask Keith. If you ask any musician from any type of music, a musician who really knows his stuff – they will tell you, their ain’t no Motherf*cker more true to music than Keith.”

He goes on …

” He (Keith) and the rest of the Stones could easily play a lot harder stuff. Keith has always been capable of playing leads – good leads. That’s the beauty of the Stones – they never put the instruments ahead of the songwriting. The songs were the most important element and still are. There is a reason why they have lasted fifty years. The Beatles – same thing. Their music is just as popular today as when they were ‘four brothers.’ The songs came first man ….”

Walker admits it is painful to watch The Beatles’ film; ‘Let it Be’. Joe thinks the lads from Liverpool were just becoming a great band when they went their separate ways. Directions which contained many factors including Lennon’s hatred of record companies and the music business.

Various - 1967” When you see them playing on the roof – their final concert …” Explains Walker. “You can see the smiles – the general happiness. Don’t forget, for years they did not play live and I think they lost the joy that comes from that. On the roof, they gained that back. John and the rest of the boys were supposedly talking about doing another gig after that. Unfortunately it did not happen. Imagine where they would have gone.”

Joe concludes it was all about the simplicity. Especially for John Lennon

“Look at his last album …( Double Fantasy)” Says Walker. “Three and four chords. Take away the production and that’s what it is. That’s what is always was with The Beatles. Simple. A lot of reason for their success was their success in the studio. Nobody mastered the studio like the Beatles and a lot of that goes to the Producer (George Martin). The Stones and The Beatles kept it simple …”

Walker also laughs when he hears young guys today ( musicians) complain of little details. Details that himself and guys like B.B. King and Buddy Guy – did not even have to deal with …

” Young bands today will get on stage and complain they cannot hear their monitors. Are you f*ckin’ joking …?” He laughs. ” The Beatles played at Shea Stadium without any monitors. They couldn’t hear a damn thing! Anything! The Stones – same thing at the Cow Palace in my hometown ( San Francisco). You can’t hear the monitors …? Baby – that’s the least of your problems …..”

Please stay tuned for Part Two

Joe Louis Walker is performing at L’Astral in Montreal on Friday night

Click here for show times and ticket information!

Visit Joe’s Site here!

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