Dion Payton, 70 10.21.50–3.12.21
Watching Dion Payton and his 43rd St. Blues Band during their regular gig at Kingston Mines in the 1980s was an electrifying experience that I sought out at every opportunity. The combination of Payton and his protege, the young Joanna Connor, showing off her impressive slide skills, was pure magic.
I had always hoped, despite his multiple health issues in recent years, that he would be back on stage again. I am even sadder that he left us with very little in terms of recordings we can hold on to. His song, All Your Affection is Gone, appears on the 2006 Alligator Records recording, The New Bluebloods – The Next Generation of Chicago Blues, along with promising musicians like the Kinsey Report, Valerie Wellington, Sons of Blues, Professor's Blues Review with Gloria Hardiman, John Watkins, Michael Coleman, Maurice John Vaughan, Melvin Taylor and Lil' Ed and the Blues Imperials. CHICAGO SUN-TIMES OBITUARY
LEND A HAND GoFundMe for funeral expenses.
At press time, the fund was very close to reaching its $10,000 goal. Dion Payton photo from Alligator Records website
Margie Evans, 81
International blues and gospel entertainer, songwriter, music producer and more; worked with Johnny Otis, T-Bone Walker, Big Joe Turner, Lowell Fulson, Willie Dixon and many more LEARN MORE
Sam "Cabbage Man" Frazier Jr., 77
A musical prodigy who was inspired by Sonny Boy Williamson and Jimmy Reed; was a local fixture in the Birmingham, AL, area, playing often at a popular local country and western club, Sonny Dukes LEARN MORE
Lou Ottens, 94
Dutch engineer/inventor who invented the cassette tape, and helped to develop the compact disc
Albertina Wassenhove, 94
Operated The Midway Tavern in Mishawaka, IN, the blues club of choice in the area LEARN MORE
Chick Corea, 79 6.12.41–2.9.21
American jazz composer, keyboardist, bandleader, and occasional percussionist
2021 Chicago Blues Festival
The dates had been set for June 4–6, but representatives of the city of Chicago's Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) have said the city is not yet ready to make an announcement about the fest, because of COVID concerns.
My pessimistic side says: Make other plans for that weekend.
My increasingly weak optimistic side thinks maybe the city could just move the fest forward a little (like to Labor Day).
Keep your fingers crossed. All we can do is wait.
THINKING OUT LOUD
LEND A HAND Singer/Bass Player Danielle Nicole posted the incredibly sad and shocking news that her brother, drummer Kristopher Robert Schnebelen, was diagnosed with Stage 4 metastatic adenocarcinoma and esophageal cancer. It is especially heartbreaking since his wife, Gabby, is pregnant with twins who will be born in early June. Here are a few ways you can donate to help the family during this. difficult time:
Chicago Guitarist Tom Holland also had some sad news. His old drummer Tino Cortes, who also has worked with Byther Smith, Aron Burton and others, needs a kidney. Here is what Tino would like everyone to share (slightly edited version): I need your help. With the music scene coming back I would love to be out there drumming, but I am too sick. I desperately need a kidney. Mine have failed. I have beaten heart failure, and diabetes, but I can't do this one without help from you. Please, if you know someone who is willing to give a kidney, please email me. It is not a firm commitment, just an indicator you would be willing to be tested. I have worked really hard over months to get ready for a transplant. Finding potential donors helps me move up on the list and maybe live a few more years. CONTACT TINO IF YOU OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW CAN HELP email@example.com
ON A HAPPIER NOTE....Be sure to wish Kate and Nick Moss a Happy Anniversary on May 4. And...Kate is celebrating her 50th birthday Thursday, April 15 at Hey Nonny with the Smiley Tillmon Band.
SWEET DREAMS. It would be kinda hard for me to justify spending the night above FitzGerald's after a show, but I gotta say that this airbnb is pretty darn cool. Not only that, the price is very reasonable, considering that there are three bedrooms with six beds. CHECK IT OUT
HOUSE MUSEUM KERFUFFLE. I just like word kerfuffle, and I was all ready to live up to my given name––but the fuss was over before I even got a chance to properly whine. If you missed it, Ald. Sophia King (4th) introduced an ordinance that would have restricted establishment of "house museums" in residential neighborhoods. It could have severely affected the work that has finally started on the Muddy Waters house to turn it into the Muddy Waters Mojo Museum. After much outcry, however, King withdrew the ordinance. By the way, for a $5 donation you can virtually tour the Mojo Museum right now. READ ALL ABOUT IT
AND A SUPER-KERFUFFLE. Kenny Wayne Shepherd has had his 2021 Blues Music Award nomination for Best Blues/Rock Artist rescinded because, according to a statement by the Blues Foundation, "...of continuing revelations of representations of the Confederate flag on Shepherd’s ‘General Lee’ car, guitars and elsewhere." The foundation has also asked Ken Shepherd, father of Kenny Wayne, to step down as a member of the Board of Directors. READ THE MEMPHIS FLYER STORY
ANOTHER LANDMARK. The Morton Salt Factory (1357 N. Elston) is inching toward landmark status and the developers are planning to turn the building into a music hall. READ MORE
AUSTIN RISING.DJ Tom Marker has posted some interesting stuff online about the renovation of the Laramie State Bank Building in Austin. The current plans include "a blues museum, bank branch, café and business incubator. The adjacent land will be redeveloped with a mixed-income, multi-story rental building that includes a green roof, public plaza, social spaces, and outdoor art." I LOVE the idea of a blues museum finally sprouting in anywhere in Chicago after so many false starts, but I wonder if the location in Austin is the best location. I still have fantasies that the district just south of Cermak (and the Blues Heaven Foundation) on Michigan Ave. would be a great place to attract tourists. Of course, dreaming big, I think an entertainment district with several blues clubs, restaurants, etc., would be wonderful. Or...build one in the 78, Chicago's newest neighborhood, which is easily accessible from all the downtown hotels, not to mention from the world headquarters of Chicago Blues News. They've got 62 undeveloped acres right now. Just sayin'. READ MORE
WAIT 'TIL NEXT YEAR. The Friends of the Blues, the group thathas been hosting shows for years in the Kankakee and surrounding area, announced that there will be no shows in 2021 due to COVID concerns.
WIN SOMETHING. The submissions for the Blues Blast Music Awards are open until May 31. LEARN MORE
AWARDS AND MORE AWARDS
Neflix's Ma Rainey's Black Bottomhas won the NAACP Image Award for outstanding ensemble in a motion picture. In addition, Netflix has partnered with the Grammy Museum to present Ma Rainey: Mother of the Blues, a 30-minute TV special about this music legend. It airs on Monday, April 12, at 7pm PT on KCBS in Los Angeles and will be available on COLLECTION:live, the GRAMMY Museum’s official streaming platform from April 13 through May 1. I will try to watch, but just 30 minutes? Really?
And then there are the 2021 Grammys. The blues had two categories. Bobby Rush beat out his worthy opponents (Frank Bey, Don Bryant, Robert Cray and Jimmy "Duck" Holmes), winning Best Traditional Blues Album for Rawer Than Raw. In the other category, Best Contemporary Blues Album, I found some humor in the idea that Fantastic Negrito won for a recording titled, Have You Lost Your Mind Yet? (Yes, and thanks for asking). As I think I have said in the past between whining, Negrito is a fine performer and a great photo op, but HE IS NOT BLUES. He beat out Ruthie Foster, Bettye LaVette, the North Mississippi Allstars and the other NOT BLUES guy, G. Love. I will never get it.
(Clockwise from top): John Primer, Shemekia Copeland and Jimmy Johnson
Chicago was well represented inLiving Blues Radio Chart's Top 50 Blues Albums of 2020 by our two major blues record labels, Alligator and Delmark, and by several of our talented local musicians. Congrats for jobs well done! There's a lot of other great music on the list, but you know we are just a little partial to Chicago. ALLIGATOR
1. Roomful of Blues, In a Roomful of Blues
3. Tinsley Ellis, Ice Cream in Hell
5. Elvin Bishop & Charlie Musselwhite, 100 Years of Blues
8. Shemekia Copeland, Uncivil War
4. Jimmy Johnson, Every Day of Your Life
13. Johnny Burgin, No Border Blues
17. Johnny Iguana, Johnny Iguana’s Chicago Spectacular!
19. Linsey Alexander, Live at Rosa’s
48. Dave Specter, Blues From the Inside Out
CHICAGO ARTISTS (OTHER LABELS)
2. John Primer & Bob Corritore, The Gypsy Woman Told Me (VizzTone)
24. Liz Mandeville, Playing with Fire (Blue Kitty Music)
44. Nora Jean Wallace, BluesWoman (Severn)
46. Alex Dixon’s Vintage Dixon, The Real McCoy (Dixon Landing Music)
Like everything else planned in the last year, this beautiful exhibit at Delmark Records has had to make a few tweaks to the original plans. Curator Lynn Orman Weiss, in partnership with Delmark President and CEO Julia Miller, put this exhibit together to pay tribute to the more than 100 years of women in the blues. It features the work of many of the best blues photographers working today. The exhibit will be at Delmark until June 2021.
SCHEDULE AN IN-PERSON VISIT
Because of COVID restrictions, to schedule an in-person viewing, send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Include your contact information (phone and email), your preferred dates and times, and the number of people in your party. NOTE: Masks MUST be worn and social distancing practices must be observed at all times. GET MORE INFO
FULL DISCLOSURE: The photos featured above are all mine, but they are just a small portion of the overall show.
Clockwise, from l-r: Monica Myhre (Dave Weld & the Imperial Flames), Donna Herula, Ms. Hy-C (Ms. Hy-C and. Fresh Start), Erica "RicaJean" Korak, Sheryl Youngblood, Yoko Noge and TK Jackson (Southern Avenue)
PLAN TENTATIVELY (BUT ENTHUSIASTICALLY)
Chicago is not Texas, so we are not throwing open all the doors and all caution to the wind right now.
BUT...we are creeping toward having fun again. Here's a few signs of hope:
6615 Roosevelt Rd., Berwyn
FitzGerald's has regular Patio Shows and Bluesday Tuesday is BACK! Next up for Bluesday: John Primer and the Real Deal Blues Band on Tuesday, May 4.
Kale My Name
3300 W. Montrose
Casey Lee Band/Jam every Monday 7-10pm .
John Kattke will be there, too, at least until Buddy Guy's Legends is back open.
Johnny's Blitz Bar and Grill
20 N. Cass, Westmont
They apparently have an open mic on Mondays and Thursdays and bands on the weekends. facebook.com/JohnnysBlitz/
2548 N. Halsted
First, I heard rumors the bar was for sale, then all of a sudden they were supposed to open TONIGHT (April 8). But...thanks to rising COVID numbers, they have postponed the opening for another week. Cross your fingers and keep your mask on so we can go out again soon. FYI: The Mines has a bunch of jobs available on Indeed. STAY TUNED
1002 N. California
The Clipper is reopening under new management–no exact date yet. LEARN MORE
The Ramova Theatre
3518 S. Halsted
The Bridgeport movie theatre is being renovated and plans are to reopen it as a performing arts center by late 2022.
Lee's Unleaded Blues Club
7401 S. South Chicago Ave.
The club is currently being renovated and is coming back to life at some point in the relatively near future.
FESTIVALS JUNE 25–27 Broad St. Blues & BBQ
Griffith, IN STAY TUNED...no bands announced yet
Summer Camp Music Festival
Three Sisters Park | Chillicothe, IL
This is a HUGE fest in the middle of nowhere (at least to this city gal), and the blues will be few and far between. BUT...I did note that Southern Ave. and the Ben Miller Band (which still has the Tyrannosaurus Chicken folks in it) are both on the bill. CHECK OUT THE LINEUP
35th Mississippi Valley Blues Festival
LeClaire Park, Davenport, IA
We went to this fest a couple of years ago and the lineup was incredible. Can't wait to see who they book this year. OUR 2019 PHOTOS FIND OUT MORE
Donna Herula | Bang at the Door RELEASE DATE: May 21 (Self-Release) PRE-ORDER: April 23
Donna Herula's third recording offers a wide variety of blues and music styles from deep in the Delta and Chicago Blues to folk, jazz, gospel, country and New Orleans. With 11 original songs and three covers, the album focuses on honest songwriting and explosive slide guitar. It was produced by Jon Shain, winner of the 2019 International Blues Challenge, and recorded in Chapel Hill, NC, with special guests Anne Harris, Daryl Davis and Katherine Davis. donnaherula.com
Guy King | Joy is Coming PRE-ORDER: April 9
Guy King's newest release will only be available on his website, where you can also learn more about the album in the next few weeks.
Bob Corritore & Friends | Spider in My Stew RELEASE DATE: May 14 (Southwest Musical Arts Foundation)
Bob Corritore has a LOT of talented friends, so you know this is going to be another great release. There's 14 tracks with from some special guests you might know: Sugaray Rayford, Lurrie Bell, John Primer, Oscar Wilson, Willie Buck and quite a few more.
ALREADY OUT Elizabeth King | Living in the Last Days RELEASE DATE: April 2 (Bible & Tire)
Elizabeth King has quite a story. This is the 77-year-old sacred soul (aka gospel) singer's first full-length solo album after walking away from the music business in the 1970s to raise her 15 children. She did record a little in the 1970s, mostly with the male gospel group, the Gospel Souls. The new recording has 11 tracks and features a who's who of Memphis backing musicians. The record company is also working on a documentary about Ms. King.
Listen to Call on Him LEARN MORE
Mindi Abair | The Best of Mindi Abair RELEASE DATE: April 2 (Pretty Good for a Girl)
This 19-track collection features a combination of Abair's biggest hits, a few unreleased gems and her personal favorites from her 11 albums released during her 21-year career. Keb' Mo', Booker T. Jones and Gregg Allman make special appearances. I will admit to not following her entire career, but ever since I saw her with her latest band, The Boneshakers, I have been obsessed.
Allman Brothers Band | Down in Texas '71 RELEASE DATE: March 26 ( Allman Brothers Band Recording)
This nine-track release features cuts from their Sept. 28, 1971, show at the Austin (TX) Municipal Auditorium. It features the original band lineup and sadly, was just one month before Duane Allman died in a motorcycle crash. It available on CD, vinyl and streaming.
AND ONE MORE Studebaker John | The Resonator
Recorded with drummer Earl Howell (formerly of Magic Slim & The Teardrops). Honestly, my best efforts have come up blank when trying to figure out how to get this CD, which supposedly is available for digital downloads, and in reel-to-reel and CD formats. If you can find John playing somewhere (which in normal times, is usually pretty easy), I am sure you can buy the CD. Don't bother with the website, it has not been updated in quite a while. HERE'S A TASTE: What I Am ON FACEBOOK: facebook.com/StudebakerJohn
TWO VERSIONS OF A GREAT SONG
I am not really a John Legend fan, but WOW.
This version at the Biden-Harris 2021 inauguration knocked me out. Feelin' Good
THE ORIGINAL Feelin' Good
I just LOVE this version that is part of the Playing for Change Song Around the World series
And here's a little something from the recently departed lady of the blues Mistreated Woman
The next chicagoBLUESnews:
FRIDAY, MAY 7 2021 (Mails on THURS, MAY 6)
OUR ONLINE CALENDAR chicagoBLUESnews Online Calendar
The calendar is starting to look more like it should...with more live shows being listed all the time. I am also listing streaming shows here and festivals here.
A quick spin on Facebook will find a lot of options to get your blues fix.
Last month, in a moment of inexcusable idiocy, I listed Michael Ledbetter's birthday as MAR 12, when in fact his birthday is April 27. I meant to say that Michael Andrew Leadbitter was having a birthday on March 12. Here’s a few facts about each of them to confirm that I do know the difference between the two and have not yet descended into total dementia.
MICHAEL DAVID LEDBETTER
He grew up in Elgin, IL, just west of Chicago.
He trained as an opera singer but found his calling in blues.
He joined the Nick Moss Band in 2010 and was a member of the band for seven years.
After he performed with Monster Mike Welch at the Otis Rush Tribute at the 2016 Chicago Blues Fest, they recorded Right Place Right Time, which won a Blues Music Award for best traditional blues album.
The Welch-Ledbetter Connection was nominated for a 2019 Blues Music Award for Band of the Year and Ledbetter was nominated as vocalist of the year and B.B. King Entertainer. They won all the awards, but Ledbetter received them posthumously.
Ledbetter was just 33 when died at home from complications from epilepsy in 2019.
HAVE A LISTEN This is the full show from the Big Blues Bender in 2018
He was a Brit who was born in Simla, India, but grew up in Bexhill-on-Sea, England.
He was a writer, researcher and magazine editor who was considered a leading authority on blues music.
In 1962, he formed the Blues Appreciation Society in the U.K., which led to the magazine, Blues Unlimited, the first English-language blues periodical.
He was just 32 when he died of meningitis in 1974.
ONE MORE MOMENT OF STUPIDITY
So, just to be sure I was totally embarrassed, I also listed Tom Burns' date of death as 11.23.21. Obviously, if that was the case, he would still be alive right now and I should probably look into jobs as a psychic. Obviously, he died in 2020.
APRIL 8 Lil' Ed Williams
APRIL 9 She Wolf
APRIL10 Shemekia Copeland
APRIL 11 Luther "Guitar Jr." Johnson Tom Moore
APRIL 13 Roger Stolle (Cat-Head Delta Blues & Folk Art)
APRIL 14 Mississippi Gabe Carter Pete Krampert
APRIL15 Tommy Castro
APRIL17 Byther Smith Lonnie Shields Kate Moss Dan Carelli
APRIL 18 Jeff Labon Nigel Mack
APRIL19 Mike Flynn
APRIL20 Dave Peabody Brian James
APRIL 21 Chris Edwards Jamiah Rogers
APRIL 22 Peter Frampton (has been known to play some blues) James Armstrong Bill McFarland
APRIL23 Thomas A. Susala Alex Dixon
APRIL24 Miss Honey Piazza Eli Cook
APRIL 25 Watermelon Slim
APRIL 26 Ralph Kinsey Pistol Pete August Lord (Chicago Blues Beat)
APRIL 27 Kevin McKendree Joel Baer
APRIL 30 Wayne Kramer (Borderline blues) Wayne Baker Brooks
APRIL 1 Carlton Armstrong
APRIL 3 Freddie Roulette
MAY 4 Anders Osborne (Blues-ish) Jeff Jensen
MAY 5 Diane Blue
MAY 6 Steve Cushing
BELATED BIRTHDAY WISHES
MARCH 18 Casey Lee
Apr 8 Moody Jones Robert Lowery
Apr 9 Mance Lipscomb Woodrow Adams
Apr 10 Ray Agee John Brim Roscoe Gordon
Apr 11 John Lee Granderson
Apr 12 Daddy Stovepipe Hound Dog Taylor Shakey Jake Harris Andrew "Blueblood" McMahon Asie Payton
Apr 13 Floyd Miles
Apr 14 Bobby “Top Hat” Davis Joseph “Mojo” Morganfield
Apr 15 Bessie Smith Little Sonny Jones Frank Frost
Apr 16 John Littlejohn Artie "Blues Boy" White Sean Costello
Apr 17 Clifford Gibson Theresa Needham
Apr 18 Little Brother Montgomery Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown
Apr 19 Doctor Clayton Alexis Korner
Apr 20 Little Willy Foster Johnny Fuller Calvin Leavy Gary Primich
Apr 21 Eddie King
APRIL 22 Bull Moose Jackson George "Harmonica" Smith Skeeter Brandon
APRIL 23 Charles “Cow Cow” Davenport
APRIL 24 Charlie "Specks" McFadden
APRIL 25 Albert King
APRIL 26 Ma Rainey Shirley Griffith Johnny Shines J.B. Hutto
APRIL 27 Hop Wilson Sista Monica Parker Michael Ledbetter
APRIL 28 Phil Guy
APRIL 29 Big Jay McNeely Otis Rush Lefty Dizz Frankie Lee
APRIL 30 Rev. Gary Davis Homesick James Mabel Scott Frankie Lee Sims Jimmie Lee Robinson
MAY 1 Ada Brown Big Maybelle Little Walter Titus Turner Lacy Gibson
MAY 2 Connie Mack Booker
MAY 3 James Brown
May 4 Tyrone Davis (Blues-ish)
MAY 5 Blind Willie McTell Johnnie Taylor
MAY 6 Henry Ford Thompson Eddie C. Campbell
YOUR MOMENT OF ZEN
I just really found this video inspiring. We sure need more people like this in our broken world. Livin' on a Prayer
TENTATIVE 2021 SCHEDULE (All newsletters mail on Thursday, the day before the issue date) MAY 7–JUNE 3
and more TBD
Always subject to change in our crazy world.