Louis Arzo Youngblood, 68
Jackson, MS-based guitarist and vocalist who dabbled in a mix of country blues, modern soul blues and whatever in between; of heart-related problems LEARN MORE ABOUT GEARSHIFTER HAVE A LISTEN
Gene Taylor, 68
Boogie-woogie piano player who played as a teenager in LA with Big Joe Turner, T-Bone Walker, Lowell Fulson and PeeWee Crayton. He went on to be a longtime member of both The Blasters and the Fabulous Thunderbirds. He was found dead in his bed by his roommate in Austin (they had been without heat for five days). LEARN MORE
Blues guitarist, songwriter and singer who played with Clifton Chenier for several years in the 1980s and also went on to play with Rockin' Dopsie and Terrance Simien and the Mallet Playboys before going solo. Mr. Robertson died at his home in Silver Lake, OH, in hospice care. Read the Blues Matters Tribute
If you want to learn. more about Sherman Robertson and the Texas zydeco scene, there is a wonderful book called Texas Zydeco by Roger Wood, with photos by James Fraher. I just got a used copy this week in pristine copy.
Douglas Carroll Grigsby III, 57
Most well known as the bass player and musical director for soul singer Teena Marie LEARN MORE GoFundMe Memorial Fund
Llewillym Milo Johnson Sr., 49
Chicago singer, songwriter and bass player Read the obituary
I am also sad to report that guitarist Dave Specter lost his mom, Elaine, on Feb. 11 at the age of 91, and guitarist Pistol Pete lost his older brother since the last newsletter. Send a little love their way.
OTHER NOTABLE PASSINGS James Burke, 70 9.19.50–2.19.21
Member of the classic Chicago soul group, The Five Stairsteps
Their 1970s song, O-o-h Child is listed on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time Read the Rolling Stone obituary
Mary Wilson, 76 3.6.44–2.8.21
One of the founder members of the Supremes; of hypertensive atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease
And, finally, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, beat poet and founder of the great City Lights bookstore in San Francisco died at the age of 101. I will admit to not really being into poetry, but Ferlinghetti's poem, The Wold is a Beautiful Place, was one I liked from the book, A Coney Island of the Mind.
THINKING OUT LOUD
THERE'S GOTTA BE A WAY. Steve Balkin, director of the Maxwell Street Foundation and a Roosevelt University Professor Emeritus, has a mission: to give Rev. John Johnson's Maxwell St. Blues Bus a new life and a new home. According to a Block Chicago story, the bus was a "rolling music store" and Johnson sold blues tapes and CDs from it on Maxwell Street "from the 1960s to the late 1990s." The renovation supposedly will only cost between $10,000 and $15,000. I think finding the permanent home could be a bigger struggle, but I really like what Balkin has in mind. READ ABOUT BALKIN'S AMBITIOUS PLANS DONATE TO THE CAUSE
ONCE A JAYHAWK...Actually I was never a Jayhawk, but when I briefly lived there, I did like Lawrence, KS, a lot. So it caught my eye when I saw that one of the professors at the University of Kansas recently penned a book called Groove Theory: The Blues Foundation of Funk. Here's what author and KU associate professor Tony Bolden says in this intro: "My central argument (is) that blues and funk are not just musical forms; they are interrelated concepts. And blues is ‘like the nucleus’ of rock as well as rhythm and blues, which includes soul and funk.” LEARN MORE
SUCH A DEAL. Every year the University of Chicago holds The Great Chicago Book Sale that offers "books in every subject up to 90% off." The books I want are never 90% off, but this year there are a few blues books of note (p.24 of the catalog, but p26 of the .pdf): Bitten By the Blues: The Alligator Records Story ($11) I Feel So Good: The Life and Times of Big Bill Broonzy ($8) Jimi Hendrix: Soundscapes ($8)
The sale ends on June 15, 2021. FIND OUT MORE
NOTE: To take advantage of the discounts, use the promo code AD1909 when you check out.
THE CONFUSION CONTINUES. So, the Grammys will be held March 14 if you care. I really wasn't going to whine about the Grammys anymore (even I was sick of hearing it) but @#$%! It is bad enough there are only two blues categories: Best Traditional Blues Album and Best Contemporary Blues Album, but the contemporary category has Fantastic Negrito and G. Love (yes, the guy with the Special Sauce) up against The North Mississippi Allstars, Ruthie Foster and Bettye LaVette. What...no room for Larkin Poe? And please....if we every get to go to Chicago Blues Fest live again, don't put G. Love on the main stage...or really anywhere in town that weekend.
SOME SANITY. The GRAMMY MuseumMississippi recentlygave Bobby Rush the Crossroads of American Music Award at their annual gala. The award honors "honor artists who have made significant musical contributions influenced by the creativity born in the cradle of American music."
THE GLOBES.Andra Day won a Golden Globe for Best Actress–Motion Picture Drama for her portrayal of Billie Holiday in the United States vs. Billie Holiday and the late Chadwick Boseman won Best Actor–Motion Picture Drama for his role as Ma Rainey's trumpet player in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom. If nothing else, these Golden Globe wins might expose a new audience to the talents of the two great blues singers featured in these films.
GONE BUT NEVER FORGOTTEN. According to a story in the Chicago Tribune,Motor Row Brewing has closed its doors. Katie O'Hern and Tyler Davis will be opening a twin concept brewery and tasting room in the space called Duneyrr, specializing in wine-beer hybrids, and Moderne Dune, focused on IPAs and lagers. I can only hope that they will see the value of keeping the weekly blues jam going...PLEASE. LEARN MORE
TRUE STORIES. It seems like the documentaries just keep coming. The latest one I care about is the HBO documentary on Tina Turner, called (of course) Tina. You can watch it on HBO and HBO Max at 7pm CST on March 27 and on demand the next day. There will be never-before-seen footage, audio tapes, personal photos and new interviews. WATCH THE TRAILER
WE GOT YOU, OSCAR. Oscar Wilson, singer for the Cash Box Kings and beloved member of the Chicago blues community, recently announced on Facebook that he was diagnosed with stage four prostate cancer. I checked in with Cash Box Kings band leader Joe Nosek and he confirmed that Oscar was being treated at the Mayo Clinic and the doctor was:
very optimistic about Oscar's condition
an old school Muddy Waters fan...so we know Oscar is in good hands.
Stay tuned for news about a GoFundMe campaign and some online shows to raise money to help with his medical bills. And send those positive vibrations.
WE BE OLD. I am in a constant state of denial about exactly how old I am until I pass a mirror, but there was something particularly unsettling to find a Billy Gibbons playlist on the AARP website. OK...at least I am in good company. YOU CAN SEE THE LIST HERE IF YOU ARE AN AARP MEMBER
If not, here's the artists he likes: The Nighcaps, Freddie King, Lightnin' Hopkins, Hop Wilson, Frankie Lee Sims, Albert Collins, Jimmie Vaughan, Mike Flanigin, T-Bone Walker, Lead Belly, and even one of his own songs: Missin' Yo Kissin'. FYI: A new ZZ Top recording is coming out later this year.
NEVER ENOUGH TAJ. Taj Mahal has announced a livestream series (three shows) from the University of California, Berkeley:
March 13: with the Phantom Blues Band with special guest Jon Cleary
March 20: Roots Rising Showcase with performances by Piedmont Bluz, Bob Ickes & Trey Hensley, and more.
March 27: Fantastic Negrito (I have no words.)
All shows are at 8pm CST. GET TICKETS/MORE INFO (No, these are not FREE shows)
ONE MORE THING. I somehow missed this one earlier: Michael Damani, the young guitar phenom who plays with the Original Chicago Blues All Stars (Freddie Dixon and Jimmy Lee Tillman's band) recently got married to fellow musician Danielle Jones (Danielle of Earth). Congrats and warm wishes for a wonderful musical future! Who knew Damani was old enough to get married? Just kidding! 😜
OTHER SHOWS SCHEDULED North Shore Center for the Performing Arts | Skokie
OCT 10 | Boz Scaggs
OCT 14 Taj Mahal
Popa Chubby | It's a Mighty Hard Road RELEASE DATE: 3.19.21 | Dixiefrog
Popa Chubby (you can call him Ted Horowitz if you dare) is celebrating his 30-year career with this new release that features 13 original songs and two covers: Kiss (Prince) and I'd Rather Be Blind. This is the Leon Russell song not to be confused with the Etta James classic. Remember, Etta wanted to GO blind, not BE blind. You may have heard Freddie King's version a while ago. HERE'S A TASTE
New Moon Jelly Roll Freedom Rockers | Vol. 2 RELEASE DATE: 3.26.21 | Stony Plain Records
This is my kind of supergroup. I told you about Vol. 1 in the JAN 8 newsletter and now the 2nd disc is scheduled for release in a few weeks. Remember, it's Charlie Musselwhite, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Jimbo Mathus, Jim Dickinson, Luther Dickinson and Cody Dickinson. If you like the North Mississippi Allstars, you will love this. PRE-ORDER
Chris Cain | Raisin' Cain RELEASE DATE: 4.9.21 | Alligator Records
This is Chris Cain's first release on Alligator, which was produced and recorded by Kid Andersen at Greaseland Studios in San Jose, CA. The 12 original songs are what Cain himself describes as "the best pack of tunes I've ever written." That is saying a lot since this is Cain's 15th release. CAIN AT LEGENDS IN 2019 AND CAIN IN 1992 IN PITTSBURGH
ALREADY OUT Kat Riggins | Cry Out
Gulf Coast Records
This new CD, which was released last summer, is up for a Blues Music Award this year for Best Contemporary Blues Album. It's 13 tracks of rockin' blues at its best from this dynamic, charming performer. HAVE A TASTE
Erwin Helfer and the Chicago Boogie Esemble | Celebrate the Journey
The Sirens Records
A year ago, some of Erwin Helfer's closest friends and collaborators recorded a jam session that is a joyous celebration of Helfer's life work. The release also celebrates Helfer's 85th birthday, which was Jan. 20, 2021. Stay tuned for a big celebration some time this year at the Old Town School of Music.
Sugar Blue & Louisiana Red | Red Funk N' Blue-the Complete 1978 Recordings
A total of 21 classics on two CDs that document a very special night in London and the collaboration between two amazing musicians.
Frank Bey | All My Dues are Paid
Frank Bey was having a moment last year, with a resurgence of his music career, when he sadly passed away on June 7, 2020. This album is up for two Blues Music Awards––Song of the Year for All My Dues Are Paid (written by Kathy Murray, Rick Estrin, Frank Bey, Kid Andersen and performed by Frank Bey) and Soul Blues Album of the Year. The album is also up for a Grammy award for Best Traditional Blues Album.
LISTEN TO ONE OF THESE DAYS (and grab the Kleenex for this one).
Lightnin' Hopkins | King Of Dowling Street
Sunset Blvd. Records
This recently released recording has 57 tracks with 20 that have never been on CD before from the legendary Texas bluesman. There are also 12 previously unreleased performances, all remastered from analog tapes. HAVE A LISTEN
AND A COUPLE MORE
On March 26, Eric Clapton'sHistoric Recordings Vol. 1will be released. Think performances with the Yardbirds, Jimmy Page and Sonny Boy Williamson.
And something not really blues: Jimbo Mathus and Andrew Bird, original members of the Squirrel Nut Zippers, will release a new recording tomorrow (FRI, MAR 5) called These Thirteen. HAVE A LISTEN
The Blues Never Die
This is a beautiful piece on Bubba's Blues Corner, a legendary record store in Helena, AR, now only open by request.
Bubba Sullivan, who turned 80 on Aug. 5, 2020, would like to turn the place into a museum to house his incredible collection of music memorabilia. DONATE TO THE GOFUNDME
The next chicagoBLUESnews:
FRIDAY, APR 9 2021 (Mails on THURS, APR 8)