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A weekly digest of blues news
 
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FEB 5 – MAR 4 2021 
FORWARD TO A FELLOW BLUES LOVER FORWARD TO A FELLOW BLUES LOVER
Well...here we are.
It is now February 2021.
For the record, it is:
  • Black History Month
    Here's Taj Mahal's Playlist for this month.
  • Super Bowl LV is this Sunday. Too bad they now leak all the commercials ahead of time.
  • The Year of the Ox begins on Feb. 12, according to Chinese astrology. Our 2021 is Chinese Year 4719 and is a Yin Metal year.
  • It is Valentine's Day on the 14th, often the cause of much anxiety and hurt feelings––or beautiful bouquets and yummy chocolates.
  • It is winter's cruelest month...but we can see spring in the distance.
  • Feb. 20 is Northern Hemisphere Hoodie Hoo Day (look it up!).
On a more important note, I am not sure yet if many blues festivals will be happening in 2021, although a few have been scheduled.The clubs are not yet open in Chicago, but we are inching slowly back to normal life. And there are plenty of live streams going on if you care to watch.

A RANDOM HOUSEKEEPING NOTE
I have decided to kill my Festivals page on the website. Instead, I will add festivals to the calendar page when they are scheduled. The calendar will have appropriate  and obvious LABELS such as LIVE STREAM, FESTIVAL, etc. IF there is no label, it is a show you can actually go to....in person...Imagine that.
REST IN PEACE
Grady Gaines, 86
5.14.34 – 1.29.21

Grady Gaines was a Texas-based saxophonist who performed and recorded with Little Richard in the 1950s. He also backed Dee Clark, Little Willie John, Sam Cooke, James Brown, Jackie Wilson and Joe Tex.
GRADY GAINES PHOTO © George Craig 

HAVE A LISTEN
Grady Gaines and the Texas Upsetters

Danny Ray, 85
1935–2.2.21

James Brown's "Cape Man" and "the second hardest working man in show business;
of natural causes
Rolling Stone article

OTHERS IN THE MUSIC COMMUNITY
WHO LEFT US RECENTLY

Sylvain Sylvain Mizrahi (bass player, New York Dolls), 69
2.14.51–1.13.21
of cancer

Gerry Marsden (frontman, Gerry and the Pacemakers), 78
9.24.42–1.3.21
of a heart infection, according to British news sources

Tim Bogert (bass player, Beck, Bogert & Appice, Vanilla Fudge, Cactus), 76
8.14.44–1.13.21
aka John Voorhis Bogert III
of cancer

Phil Spector (record producer and creator of the Wall of Sound), 81
12.26.39–1.16.81
of COVID-19 related complications

Hilton Valentine (guitarist, The Animals), 77
5.21.43–1.29.21
no cause of death revealed

Mick Bolton (keyboard player, Mott the Hoople and Dexys Midnight Runners), 72
1948–1.1.21
no cause of death revealed

Marsha Zazula (cofounder of Megaforce Records), 68
of cancer
4.21.52–1.10.21
of cancer

Michael Fonfara (keyboard player, Electric Flag, Foreigner, Rhinoceros, Lou Reed, Downchild Blues Band), 74
8.11.46–1.8.21
of cancer

Neil Peart (drummer and lyricist, Rush), 67
9.12.52–1.7.21
of glioblastoma
SIDE NOTE: I was never a Rush fan, but after reading most of this long Rolling Stone article about Peart I am going to have to listen to some of their music. Peart was definitely a much-loved, interesting man.

Jerry Brandt (promoter and nightclub owner––LA's Paradise Ballroom and NY's Electric Circus and The Ritz), 82
1.29.38– 1.16.21
aka Jerome Jack Mair
of COVID-19
THINKING OUT LOUD


VOTE!
The 2021 Blues Music Awards will be a live streamed event (Blues Foundation Facebook and YouTube channel) this year on Sunday, June 6, beginning at 4pm. I will listen IF Chicago Blues Fest is cancelled again this year. Otherwise, you know where I will be.
NOTE: You can vote for your faves if you are a member of the Blues Foundation until 11:59pm CT on Friday, March 12, 2021.

All the nominees are winners in my book, but I am especially excited for all of our Chicago faves who are on the ballot. The star of this year's awards is Chicago's own Shemekia Copeland, who The Washington Post is calling the best blues singer of her generation (we agree!). So...congrats and good luck to our Chicago stars (in no logical order):

Shemekia Copeland
Album of the Year (Uncivil War), Contemporary Blues Album (Uncivil War), Contemporary  Blues Female Artist, Song of the Year (Uncivil War, written by John Hahn and Will Kimbrough and performed by Shemekia), BB King Entertainer of the Year

Lil' Ed Williams
BB King Entertainer of the Year

Johnny Iguana
Instrumentalist – Piano

Dennis Gruenling*
Instrumentalist – Harmonica
*Yes, I know Dennis is not technically Chicago, but he currently is in one of our best bands, The Nick Moss Band, so he is Chicago right now.

Jimmy Johnson 
Traditional Blues Album (Every Day of Your Life)

Nora Jean Wallace
Traditional Blues Album (Blueswoman)

John Primer
Traditional Blues Male Artist

Billy Branch
Instrumentalist – Harmonica
Traditional Blues Male Artist

Kenny "Beedy Eyes" Smith
Instrumentalist – Drums

OTHER HAPPY NOMINEES
Note that Rick Estrin & the Nightcats and Sugar Ray & the Bluetones both received five nominations each.
CHECK OUT THE ENTIRE LIST OF NOMINEES

REMEMBERING MOJO. There will be a tribute concert at some point to honor the memory of Joseph "Mojo" Morganfield, but there are no specific details yet. Stay tuned. One obvious idea: A tribute at the Muddy Waters celebration held in Westmont  every year in the summer...if it happens this year. And then there is blues fest if it happens.
 

HONORING LADY DAY. I would love to say that the beautiful photos above were mine, but of course, they are not. They are the incredible work of photographer Jerry Dantzic that is part of a  touring exhibition from the Smithsonian Institution, "Billie Holiday at Sugar Hill: Photographs by Jerry Dantzic," that most recently was on display at the Fort Smith Regional Art Museum in Arkansas. COVID-19 has made it difficult for museums to book touring exhibitions, but I am hoping that this exhibition will find its way to Chicago or somewhere nearby when we go back to normal life. The exhibition is a documentation of one week in the singer's life when, in 1957, just two years before her death, Holiday performed at the Sugar Hill nightclub in in Newark, NJ. The exhibition includes 56 framed pigment prints and a video of a historic 1957 performance of Fine and Mellow.

Until there is another public exhibition, you can also see the photos in a book written by the photographer's son, Grayson, with a forward by Zadie Smith.
LEARN MORE
 
THE FUTURE OF THE BLUES. A young Racine, WI, bluesman talks the blues in this interesting piece.

BUZZ AWHILE. I am getting a little tired reading that this movie or that one is generating Oscar buzz. The PR machines are the only things buzzing in too many cases. Take, for example, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom. I really couldn't wait to watch it and really was disappointed when I did. Viola Davis was great, but I guess I had hoped for a lot more music and a little more about Ma Rainey than what we saw in one highly fictionalized recording session. Now we have some other buzzing goin' on. This time it is for The United States vsBillie Holiday starring Andra Day as Ms. Holiday. Even though my expectations have been lowered, I will be there on Feb. 26 when it streams on Hulu, hoping to be wowed. But how fun is it that two great ladies of the blues (yes, I am calling Billie Holiday blues) will be showcased at the Oscars this year?
READ THE LA TIMES STORY

VIRTUAL FOLK. The Folk Alliance International is hosting Folk Unlocked this year February 22-26. It is a five-day virtual event for the international folk community to come together for panels, workshops, showcases, affinity and peer group meetings, exhibit spaces, networking and mentorship. Fans can get access to more than 800 hours of virtual performances from established and emerging artists for a donation (tickets say pay what you can and tipping is encouraged). Artists performing include Los Lobos, Keb' Mo', Cedric Burnside, Terrance Simien, Marcella Simien and Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band.
GET MORE INFO
CHECK OUT WHO'S PERFORMING

GOLD RUSH. Apparently, Sun Records has jumped on the gravy train and is selling the label’s assets, including its recordings, logo and brand to Primary Wave Music, an independent music company in New York. The deal includes every recording made by Sun––except Elvis Presley’s releases (owned by Sony) and a few other small labels and some songwriting copyrights. The deal includes approximately 6,000 recordings, including Johnny Cash’s Folsom Prison Blues and  Jerry Lee Lewis’s Great Balls of Fire and Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On. According to the New York Times story, the amount of the deal was not disclosed, but is estimated at around $30 million. But didn't Bob Dylan sell his songwriting rights to Universal Music recently for $300 million? Does that make any sense?
READ THE TIMES STORY

BUT THIS DOES MAKE PERFECT SENSE. Who wouldn't want to eat BBQ from a renowned chef while listening to great music at one of the metro area's greatest venues? Babygold Barbecue will be opening (tentatively in the spring) next to FitzGerald's in Berwyn. Chef John Manion (El Che Steakhouse & Bar in the West Loop) is in charge. Sounds like a match made in heaven.

WE (TRY TO) BE JUKIN'. Roger Stolle (Cat Head Delta Blues & Folk Art, Inc. in Clarksdale, MS)  posted on Facebook that a pandemic-ly modified Juke Joint Festival is "on" for April 15-18, 2021, in Clarksdale.
Think smaller, more outdoors, health protocols––and attendees are expected to PROPERLY mask up and socially distance. Check jukejointfestival.com in early March for more info.

GRAMMY NEWS. Dr. John's 1973 album In the Right Place has been named to the Grammy Hall of Fame, along with Irma Thomas' legendary 1964 single, Time Is On My Side.

BLUES-ISH IN THE AM. Larkin Poe will be on CBS This Morning: Saturday on Feb. 6. If you care, musical acts appear at the end of the show, which is on in Chicago from 6-8am.

AND MORE AWARDS. The 39th Annual Chicago Music Awards will be held virtually on Sunday, Feb. 28 somewhere in the city. There seems to be only one blues category: Best Blues Entertainer––and the nominees are Billy Branch, Jamiah Rogers Band, Joanna Connor, Mike Wheeler and Shemekia Copeland. You can vote online.
chicagomusicawards.org

AND THE WORST AWARDS. You have until Monday, Feb. 8 to vote in the Chicago Reader's Best of Chicago 2020 awards, which will appear in the March 18 issue. There is one blues category (Best Blues Band) if you want to vote. I won't bother because I am still in mourning for what The Reader used to be and am a LOT turned off by the idea that if you are nominated for an award (not sure how that actually happens), you can "upgrade your listing" for a price. Would that qualify as a form of ballot tampering? Just asking. Just imagine the possibilities if a political election had that option. ICK.

FINALLY, an ONLY IN CHICAGO BLUES MOMENT.
GO OUT...IF YOU DARE!
It's going to be colder than a former politically incorrect saying you no longer hear, but if you wanna get off the couch, here's somewhere to go (I assume they have heat):

SAT, FEB 6 | 730–10:30pm
Kevin Purcell & Friends
with special guest Mike Wheeler

Park Inn
30 E. Main St., Round Lake Park
847-886-7500
SOMETHING TO MAKE
YOUR VALENTINE'S DAY SIZZLE!

Cherry on Top
Johnny Burgin joins 
Anson Funderburgh for a little bawdy fun to spice up your Valentine's Day.

STREAM OR BUY IT 
Available on FEB 12.



Take It Off Slowly
Dana Gillespie
and Al Cook and
his Original Band

I honestly thought I had heard ALL of Dana Gillespie's bawdy blues. What a nice surprise to find this one.
HAVE A LISTEN
DISTRACT YOURSELF
WATCH AND LISTEN
Blues Under the Skin
An obscure 1973 French TV Blues Documentary featuring performances by  Brownie McGhee, Sonny Terry, Robert Pete Williams, Mance Lipscomb, Walter “Furry” Lewis, Roosevelt Sykes, Junior Wells,  Buddy Guy, Bukka White, Jimmy Streeter and B.B. King

The Center of Nowhere
I only have had a chance to watch the trailer for this fun documentary about Springfield, MO, which is described as "America's most overlooked music scene." The director is Chicago's own Dave Hoekstra. If you have Amazon Prime, you can watch it for free. If not, there are rental options.

John Kay of Steppenwolf plays the blues!
Solo Performance by John Kay (Steppenwolf founder, vocalist and primary songwriter) at Cantina Navarro showcase room at the Folk Alliance International conference in February 2019 in Montreal.

I'm Shakin'––especially after listening to these songs by the Alvin Brothers
Wee Baby Blues
Sit Down, Baby
Rattlesnakin' Daddy
All of these songs are from the great recording, Lost Time.

The Blasters & Carl Perkins Live!!
Not just Carl Perkins, this show also featured Willie Dixon...sort of. Dixon came on and sang two songs near the end of the show (around the 40:28 mark). It was still too much fun.

MY BLACK HISTORY MONTH ASSIGNMENTS
Blues Legacies and Black Feminism:
Gertrude "Ma" Rainey, Bessie Smith, and Billie Holiday 

by Angela Davis
The book is not exactly new (it came out in 1999), but looks fascinating. It is an exploration at these three powerful blues divas by none other than the great Angela Davis. It does seem like I am on a Ma Rainey/Billie Holiday trip right now, doesn't it? Well..Tain't Nobody's Biz-ness if I Do!

The Secret History of Chicago Music: The Aces
Here's a very short read with some great info about the guys who backed Junior Wells at one time and helped to invent the urban blues music we all love.
The next chicagoBLUESnews:  
FRIDAY, MAR 5 2021

(Mails on THURS, MAR 4)
STAY ON THE COUCH!
LIVE STREAM
SAT, FEB 6 @ 8pm EST | FREE

Quarantine Concert #37: Jorma Kaukonen
WATCH IT  

VIRTUAL
MON, FEB 8 @ 8pm | FREE
Second Monday Blues with Ronnie Baker Brooks

The Logan Center’s Second Monday Blues series continues virtually with Ronnie Baker Brooks. A live interview precedes the concert, moderated by host Billy Branch. Brooks, the son of Texas and Chicago blues legend Lonnie Brooks, started playing guitar around age six. At 19, he joined his father on tour for 12 years. His latest  album is Times Have Changed.

This session was pre-recorded by Ken Christianson at Pro Musica in Chicago for virtual viewing
WATCH IT

LIVE STREAMS FROM ROSA'S LOUNGE
FRI, FEB 12 @ 930-1030pm
Brian Lupo Band

Brian Lupo was going to have a CD Release Party when the world was a more welcoming place.  The release was rescheduled a couple of times thanks to COVID and now it will be a live stream. Lupo will be playing seven original tunes and one cover.
Give him some support!

OTHER UPCOMING ROSA'S SHOWS
FRi, FEB 5 | Vino Louden with Vic Baker
SAT, FEB 6 | Ivy Ford Band
SAT, FEB. 13 | Bear Williams Trio
rosaslounge.com

FIND SOME MORE MUSIC ONLINE
 chicagoBLUESnews Online Calendar 
The calendar is being updated now and then.... so keep looking.

SUPPORT THE MUSICIANS
www.chicagobluesnews.com/pay-musicians.html
This page has several links where you can find music–live and virtual

In the meantime, listen to blues online. A quick spin on Facebook will find a lot of options to get your blues fix.
Joanna Connor | 4801 South Indiana Avenue
RELEASE DATE: 2.26.21 | KTBA Records
The name of the new recording, as most Chicago blues fanatics know, is the address of the former Theresa's Lounge, where many of Chicago's legends could be heard nightly back in the day. Connor pays tribute to spirit of Theresa's in this 10-track issue. It's Joe Bonamassa's record label, so he is on all tracks. 
THE BAND
Joanna Connor (Vocals, Guitar all tracks)
Joe Bonamassa (Guitar on all tracks; Solos on 9 & 10)
Josh Smith (Guitar on all tracks)
Reese Wynans ( Keyboards)
Calvin Turner (Bass)
Lemar Carter (Drums and Percussion)
Jimmy Hall (Vocals on Track 1)
HORN SECTION
Steve Patrick (Trumpet), Mark Douthit (Saxophone) and Barry Green (Trombone)
PRE-ORDER

Steve Cropper | Fire it Up
RELEASE DATE: 4.23.21 | Mascot Label Group/Provogue
Cropper says this release is "his first proper solo album since 1969," after many impressive years as a sideman in soul, blues and rock. 

John Hurlbut & Jorma Kaukonen | The River Flows 
ACOUSTIC BLUES-ISH
RELEASE DATE: 12.25.20 | Culture Factory, USA, Inc.
It's eight tracks that are not exactly blues, but it's Jorma in his happy place. 

Robert Allen Parker | The River's Invitation
RELEASE DATE: 3.26.21| Broken String Records
Robert Allen Parker is a Memphis-based guitarist / songwriter/producer & veteran of both the creative midtown Memphis music scene as well as the downtown Memphis blues scene. This double vinyl recording combines Parker's screaming guitar with top shelf Memphis singers such as Kennard Farmer, Candice Ivory, Chris Stephenson, & Lahna Deering. It's the best musicians from underground Memphis bringing the city's rock, blues, soul and funk together in a perfect stew.
 
AND ONE MORE
Memphis' sacred soul artist Elizabeth King will make her full album debut April 2 at the age of 78 on Bruce Watson's Bible & Tire Records.
Have a listen to Ms. King (I am pretty sure you might recognize that drummer!)
Feb 4
Frank Falduto
Victor Wainwright
Inetta Visor

 
Feb 8
Eliza Neals
 
Feb 10
Ruthie Foster 
 
Feb 13
John Lee Henley
Ellis Hooks
 
Feb 14
Toronzo Cannon
 
Feb 15
Gary Clark Jr.
 
Feb 16
James "Super Chikan" Johnson
 
Feb 17
Doyle Bramhall
Lou Ann Barton
Lee Ann Flynn (photographer)
Feb 18
Chris Alexander
DC Conley

Feb 19
Robert Bradley
 
Feb 21
Marty “Big Dog” Mercer
Rhiannon Giddens
 
Feb 25
Katherine Davis
 
Feb 27
Jimmy Burns
Howard Greenblatt (photographer)
 
Feb 28
Michael Messer
Laurance Glasser
 
Mar 1
Johnny Drummer 
 
Mar 4
Stephen Bass
BIRTHDAY REMEMBRANCES
Feb 4
Therley Speedy Ashford
 
Feb 5
Little Arthur Duncan 
 
Feb 6
Bob Marley
 
Feb 7
Curley Bridges
Earl King
King Curtis
 
Feb 8
Lonnie Johnson
Eddie "Guitar" Burns
Floyd Dixon
 
Feb 9
Johnny Heartsman
 
Feb 11
Otis Clay
 
Feb 12
Pink Anderson
Gene McDaniels
 
Feb 14
John Henry Perry Bradford
Magic Sam
 
Feb 15
James "Kokomo" Arnold
 
Feb 16
Bill Doggett
Feb 19
Earl Bell
Sam Myers
 
Feb 21
Francis "Scrapper" Blackwell

Feb 22
Bill Jackson
"Ernie K-Doe" Kador
 
Feb 24
Elmon "Driftin' Slim" Mickle
Willie Kent
 
Feb 25
Ida Cox
 Andrew Brown
 
Feb 26
Fats Domino
Bob "Bear" Hite
 
Mar 1
Walter Davis
 
Mar 2
Papa Lightfoot
Maxwell Street Jimmy Davis
Rory Gallagher
 
Mar 3
Louisiana Red
 
Mar 4
Willie Johnson
Good Rockin' Charles
 
TENTATIVE 2021 SCHEDULE
(All newsletters mail on Thursday, the day before the issue date)
MAR 5–APR 8
APR 9–MAY 6
MAY 7–JUNE 3
and more TBD

Alway subject to change in our crazy world.
 
WE DO ACCEPT ADVERTISING.
Contact Michael NOW!
You are receiving this blues newsletter because you love the blues and asked to be on the mailing list. If you are no longer interested, you can unsubscribe at any time. Chicago Blues News is written and distributed by Editorial Director Karen Murphy every Thursday, with the exception of previously announced vacation plans. Its content cannot be reproduced in any form without written permission in advance. The weekly deadline to submit information for possible inclusion in the newsletter is Wednesday at Noon.
Copyright © 2021 Chicago Blues News, All rights reserved.
 

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