No one really knows, do they? Since the last newsletter, I have mostly ignored the outside world, except the hell taking place on the streets of America the formerly beautiful. I've ripped up my pollyanna hat and embraced my given name. Whose idea was it anyway to take my perfectly good name and hang it on all the obnoxious, middle-aged crabby white women of the world who can't seem to shut up?
So...here we are, in September and still in this national #$%storm.
Until we get a little closer to normal, I will do the newsletter MONTHLY and see how that goes. I also will try to be more diligent in keeping the calendar more up to date (but don't hold your breath).
Amazingly, I have a pretty big collection of information to share right now–– that you may or may not already know. Feel free to skim.
REST IN PEACE
Peter Green in 1970 | Photo by Nick Contador
Peter Green (Peter Allen Greenbaum), who passed away on July 25 at the age of 73, was just one of the many musicians we have lost since the last newsletter. When I first discovered Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac in college, I couldn't stop listening. Those old Fleetwood Mac recordings that featured Peter Green, Jeremy Spencer and Danny Kirwan were the best of the British Blues. Over the years, I saw many, many incarnations of Fleetwood Mac, but unfortunately never saw Green do his magic live, even though I continued to hold on to the delusion that he would come back to the Mac for just one more show in Chicago. I like Eric Clapton, but listen to those old Mac recordings and you will know that Peter Green was and always will be the god of British blues. Thanks for the music, Mr. Green. READ ABOUT PETER GREEN READ MORE
OTHER SAD GOODBYES Ron "Spin Daddy" Regnas
Chicago-based bass player, Cadillac Groove, Studebaker John, Billy King Band
Drummer for Leon Russell, Eric Clapton and many more LEARN MORE
Khari Parker, 46
Chicago-based gospel and jazz drummer
Died 6.27.20 LEARN MORE
Pete Clan Crawford
Musician, founder of Red Beans Records, owner of B.L.U.E.S. Etcetera and much more
12.1.50–6.4.20 LEARN MORE
Session musician; member of the famed Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section
Saxophonist; member of Janis Joplin’s Kozmic Blues Band LEARN MORE
Floyd Lee (aka Theodore Williams)
Mississippi vocalist and guitarist who played in the New York subway for 30 years LEARN MORE
Soul blues singer LEARN MORE
Walkin' Cane Mark
vocalist, harp player based in Phoenix
Carl SweetMeet Green
WHO THINKS ANYMORE?
FIRST, THE GOOD NEWS Surprisingly––and thankfully––there is some.
HOORAY! It was great to see that some of our favorites won awards in the 2020 Living Blues Awards. A big congrats to all the winners, but we were especially happy to see these musicians be honored: CRITICS POLL Jimmy Johnson | Most Outstanding Musician (Guitar) Billy Branch | Most Outstanding Musician (Harmonica) Benny Turner | Most Outstanding Musician (Bass) Mary Lane | Comeback of the Year Shemekia Copeland | Blues Artist of the Year (Female) Bobby Rush | Blues Artist of the Year (Male)
New Recordings / Contemporary Blues Billy Branch & The Sons of Blues for Roots and Branches: The Songs of Little Walter (Alligator)
Historical / Postwar Cadillac Baby’s Bea & Baby Records—The Definitive Collection
(Earwig Records) Michael Frank | Producer of the Year: Historical Recording for Cadillac Baby’s Bea & Baby Records—The Definitive Collection
LET'S CELEBRATE! Delmark Records will be hosting a live stream on Sept. 19 at 2pm CST from the Delmark Records studio in Chicago to celebrate Jimmy Johnson's 2020 Living Blues Award for Guitar Player of the Year. Joining Jimmy will be Roosevelt Purifoy on keyboards, Big Ray on drums and Ari Seder on bass.
IT'S ABOUT DAMN TIME. The nonprofit Muddy Waters MOJO Museum received $50,000 from The National Trust for Historic Preservation through the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund. The money will be used to turn Muddy’s house on Chicago’s South Side (4349 S. Lake Park Ave.) into The Mojo Museum. According to Muddy's great-granddaughter Chandra Cooper, the renovation will include a museum attached to a community center, plus a small venue, a recording studio and a community garden. In case you wondered, the Mojo Museum is in pretty impressive hands: Chandra Cooper (President), Barry Dolins (Vice President), Kenny Smith (Treasurer), Amy Dean (Executive Director), Deitra Farr (Board Member) and Paul Oscher (Board Member). READ MORE www.mojomuseum.com READ SOMETHING ELSE Editorial: Cure for the Chicago blues: Save Muddy Waters’ house
DOWN AT THE RANCH.Jorma Kaukonen is doing his 22nd live solo show from Fur Peace Ranch on Saturday, Sept. 12 at 8pm EST. It will be the last live show until Oct. 17 when Jack Casady is back at the ranch and the Hot Tuna Live Quarantine Concerts begin! BUT...on Saturday, Sept. 19, they will stream an Electric Hot Tuna show recorded in 2013 that included a few guests: Larry Campbell, Teresa Williams, Bob Margolin and Jim Wall. I can't wait. THE FUR PEACE RANCH CHANNEL Jorma Kaukonen photo by Karen Murphy
BORN AGAIN.Lee's Unleaded Blues (7401 S. South Chicago Ave.) is opening again! Warren Berger, who bought the club in 2018, plans to reopen in April 2021. LEARN MORE
NEW GAME IN TOWN.Gary City Limits, a new music production studio and live music venue in Gary, IN, is hosting outdoor music shows a few minutes from the shores of Lake Michigan at Miller Beach. Amberly Stokes, who manages Lurrie Bell, is a Managing Partner of this new operation. NEXT SHOW: SEPT 13 | Jimmy Burns Band CHECK OUT ALL THE UPCOMING SHOWS
SOLO SOUNDS. Harlem Ave. Lounge in Berwyn is scheduling shows, mostly solo, on Fridays and Saturdays. Check their Facebook page for updates. THIS WEEKEND:Studebaker John (Friday) and Harry Hmura (Saturday).
GREAT NEWS. Anthony Paule, leader of the great Anthony Paule Soul Orchestra, has completed treatment for classic Hairy Cell Leukemia, which thankfully is the less aggressive version of the disease. At this point, his blood counts are all normal and he only needs to have a blood test every four months. The GoFundMe campaign to help Paule with medical billshas exceeded its $15,000 goal, but you can probably still donate if you choose.
HONORING MR. GREEN. Mick Fleetwood gathered a group of friends Feb 25, 2020, for a concert at the London Palladium honoring the music of Peter Green and the early years of Fleetwood Mac. If you didn't get to the show, there is a Super Deluxe Edition Boxed Set available for pre-order for the super deluxe price of $194.99. The set comes out on March 26, 2021, and includes four LPs, two CDs, a Blu-ray concert/documentary disc and a deluxe book. READ THE ARTICLE IN GUITAR WORLD NOTE:There also is a link to the performance of Green Manalishi, with Billy Gibbons on vocals and Metallica’s Kirk Hammett playing "Greeny," the 1959 Les Paul Standard previously owned by Green and Gary Moore and now owned by Hammett.
FUN, FUN, FUN. If you have the money, you can now own a Ferrari 599 previously owned by Eric Clapton. The GTB Fiorano F1 model is being sold on Auto Trader by GVE London for £89,900 (that would be $116,816.06 US). I think I'll stick with our Honda. CHECK IT OUT
HONORING A QUEEN. There was a ceremony in July to place a gravestone at the gravesite of Denise LaSalle, who died in 2018. When I first saw the story, David Whiteis' name was spelled wrong so I sent a quick note to the paper about his name and also to say they might include the name of his book. I never heard back, but his name is now correct in the story, so.... By the way, Whiteis' book, written with Denise LaSalle, came out in June 2020 and is called Always the Queen: The Denise LaSalle Story. The hardcover is pretty pricey, but you can get the paperback for just $16.72 on Amazon.
GOIN' TO THE CHAPEL. Congratulations and best wishes are in order for Joe "Mojo" Morganfield and his new bride Debi Genthe, who got hitched Sept. 4. Ms. Genthe is the executive director of Meals on Wheels Northeastern Illinois and we all know who Joe is.
GET SOME HELP. To support artists during the COVID-19 crisis, a coalition of national arts grantmakers have come together to create an emergency initiative to offer financial and informational resources to artists across the United States. FIND OUT MORE
BRACE YOURSELF... NOW THE BAD NEWS SAY IT AIN'T SO. According to a July 18 article in the Chicago Tribune, Marc Geiger, former head of music at WME and one of the founders of Lollapalooza, says he doesn't expect to attend any festivals before 2021 and predicts it will more likely be 2022 before we get back to normal.
GONE FOREVER. The California Clipper (1002 N. California), which was in business for 21 years, is closed permanently. Something about not being able to come to an agreement over rent abatement. #$%@#! INTERESTING SIDE NOTE: The tenant is Brendan Sodikoff (Au Cheval, Bavette's) and the landlord is Gino Battaglia (Blue Chicago).
TEETERING.Kingston Mines is on the brink of closing permanently. The bar currently has a fundraiser online that at press time had raised more than $52,000 of the $100,000 goal. Keep an eye on their Facebook page for updates to their plans.
GIVE MARY A HAND. An Aug. 20 Chicago Reader article by Katie Prout, Give your money to Mary Lane, is one of the most honest, unvarnished, heartbreaking and yet beautiful pieces I have read in a long time.
My only criticism comes from this section:
Always, this litany of men's names, of men who became famous after their deaths, a lucky few famous in their lives, provided as the backstory to her backstory, proof of her Authenticity, her Grit. Except for Buddy Guy, Mary's outlived them all.
Mary may have outlived all the blues men she has collaborated with directly, but let's not forget guys like Jimmy Johnson (92 on Nov. 25), Bobby Rush (87 on Nov. 10) and Billy Boy Arnold (85 on Sept. 16). And you and I know there are quite a few others out there still bringing us joy with their music. DONATE IF YOU CANGoFundMe for Mary Lane Mary Lane photo by Karen Murphy
AND FINALLY, THE DISAPPOINTING NEWS I was crushed (but not surprised) when the news came that the city pulled the plug on the 2020 Chicago Blues Festival. I looked forward to thevirtual version and hoped it would be worth the time. It wasn't....and that is all I will say.
Watch for the next chicagoBLUESnews:
FRIDAY, OCT 16
OUT AND ABOUT VIRTUALLY
We didn't see the whole thing, but what we saw was fun. But you gotta know that I am getting a little loopy when I am photographing the stupid TV.
2PM Larry McCray Trio
3PM Billy Branch with Dave Specter, John Kattke, Katherine Davis
4PM A Mays and Blue
5PM Billy Branch with Joanna Connor, Johnny Burgin, Harlan Terson
6PM The Out of Favor Boys Trio
7PM Billy Branch with Dave Specter, Joanna Connor, Billy Flynn
As the collage above shows, we caught Johnny Burgin, Billy Branch, A Mays and Blue and The Out of Favor Boys.
In the meantime, continue to take care of your health, listen to blues online and support your favorite musicians . A quick spin on Facebook will find a lot of options.
One thing is for sure. There are a lot of musicians using this unscheduled time off to be much more productive than I have been. There is a LOT of new music out there right now. Here's just a few good choices. More to come in the next issue.
Johnny Iguana | Johnny Iguana's Chicago Spectacular! RELEASE DATE: AUG 21 (Delmark)
Johnny Iguana is one of Chicago's finest piano players working today so you know this CD is a must have. Not convinced? Look at who joined him on this one: Billy Boy Arnold, John Primer, Lil' Ed Williams, Bob Margolin, Matthew Skoller, Billy Flynn, Bill Dickens, Phillip-Michael Scales, Michael Caskey and Kenny Smith.
Joanna Connor | Rise RELEASE DATE: NOV 8 (M.C. Records)
Those of us in Chicago have been watching Joanna Connor for a very long time, since she dazzled us at Kingston Mines playing with Dion Payton's 43rd St. Band.This is Connor's first release in three years and she got Mike Zito to join her and her new backup band for a journey that takes her into jazz, rock and even torch songs.
Kirk Fletcher | My Blues Pathway RELEASE DATE: SEPT 25 (Cleopatra Blues)
This sixth release from Kirk Fletcher, a former guitarist for the Fabulous Thunderbirds, has10 tracks that mix originals with reimagined classics from the likes of Sonny Boy Williamson, Chris Cain, Juke Boy Bonner and A.C. Reed. This is classic, soulful blues at its most funky.
Shemekia Copeland | Uncivil War RELEASE DATE: OCT 23 (Alligator)
Chicago's own reigning queen of the blues has never been shy about delving into sensitive topics, which she continues on this release that once again blends blues, R&B and Americana into a sound that is unmistakably Shemekia. She is joined on this powerful recording by Jason Isbell, Steve Cropper, Kingfish Ingram, Webb Wilder, Duane Eddy, Sam Bush, Jerry Douglas and The Orphan Brigade.
DON'T KILL THE MESSENGER
There is one more CD that came across my desk and I thought I would share: William Shatner | The Blues RELEASE DATE: OCT 2
I am not a Star Trek fan, but I LOVED William Shatner when he played opposite James Spader on Boston Legal. This CD has a lot of heavyweight guitar players backing Shatner (think Sonny Landreth, Ronnie Earl, Pat Travers, Harvey Mandel and Albert Lee, to name a few) and the songs are great classic blues songs. But listening to this recording, I had only two thoughts:
Is there an easy way to mute the vocals and keep the guitar riffs? Just a thought.
IS THERE A COPYRIGHT ISSUE HERE?
I wanted to hear the Dave Specter/Billy Branch song, The Ballad of George Floyd since I missed it during the Chicago/Kalamazoo Blues Party. Who knew that so many other people thought that would be a good name for a song? Here's a couple I kinda liked.
WATCH A VIDEO
The 2019–2020 Logan Center Second Monday Blues sessions are all online in case you missed them or just want to relive the experience. I went to as many as I could–and they were all great! The four sessions online are: John Primer, Vance Kelly, Deitra Farr with Matthew Skoller and J.W. Williams. CHECK 'EM OUT
READ SOMETHING JUNE 16 Rolling Stone Buddy Guy on Weathering the COVID Storm and the Road Ahead The guitarist’s blues club was damaged during Chicago’s recent protests against police brutality. But he says the movement “might help us achieve more than we have” READ THE ARTICLE
PLAN TENTATIVELY AHEAD
Who can even be tentative anymore? Extreme flexibility is the name of the game.
Sept 10 Johnny Rawls
Sept 14 Freddie Dixon
Sept 15 Phil Berkowitz Motor Row Bob
Sept 16 Billy Boy Arnold
Sept 17 Sam Cockrell
Sept 19 David Bromberg
Sept 22 Hash Brown Tomiko Dixon Bobby Radcliff
Sept 23 Donna Herula
Sept 25 Luke Pytel
Sept 27 Bob Corritore Mud Morganfield Andrew Ogrodzinski
Sept 28 Medina Alao Dixon Harry Garner
Sept 30 Sarah Brown Tail Dragger
Oct 1 Marion Diaz
Oct 2 Rie Lee Kanehira Coco Montoya Nick Gravenites
Oct 3 Guy King Billy Branch Keb' Mo'
Oct 4 Oscar Wilson
Oct 5 Rick Estrin Roy Book Binder Fillmore Slim
Oct 6 Aaron “Little Sonny” Willis Dave Weld JB Ritchie
Oct 8 Barbara Ballin Newman
Oct 10 Sharon Lewis
Oct 12 Frank Bang
Oct 13 Pierre Lacocque
Oct 14 Kenny Neal Marty Sammon
Oct 16 Sugar Pie DeSanto
BELATED WISHES If I missed your birthday, more cake for you. Please let me know the date for next year so I can add you to the list.
June 16 Smiley Tillmon's 80th Birthday
Sept 10 Roy Brown
Sept 11 Barbeque Bob Jazz Gillum
Sept 12 Alger “Texas” Alexander Gus Cannon
Sept 13 Charles Brown
Sept 15 Silas Hogan Rhythm Willie Snooky Pryor
Sept 16 B.B. King Little Willie Littlefield
Sept 17 Eddie Burks
Sept 18 Louis Myers
Sept 19 Brook Benton Lovie Austin
Sept 20 Eddie Bo
Sept 21 Professor Eddie Lusk
Sept 23 Ray Charles Fenton Robinson Tiny Bradshaw Mighty Joe Young Little Joe Blue