SWEET HOME. I stumbled across a short (4+ minutes) video on CNN Travel with the always-charming Mr. Toronzo Cannon taking us to a few clubs. HAVE A LOOK
GUITAR WARS. The Birth of Loud: Leo Fender, Les Paul, and the Guitar-Pioneering Rivalry That Shaped Rock 'n' Roll is a new book by Ian S. Port that I assume guitar nerds will want to read. The book is getting good reviews and the author is a guitar-playing veteran music journalist so...let the Leo Fender-Les Paul war begin. Honestly, I have no opinion for once. READ A REVIEW
BLOW THAT THING. Who knew that there was a Chicago Harmonica Meetup group that has 307 members? They don't focus on just blues, but if you aspire to be the next Little Walter, you might want to check 'em out. Membership is free and all skill levels are welcome. I will never play harmonica...I only aspire to listen to the next Little Walter.
NINE LIVES. It's not only cats that have nine lives. It seems like Jerry Lee Lewis might, too. The 83-year-old wild man recently had a minor stroke, but his neurologist, Dr. Rohini Bohle, says Lewis is “expected to fully recover with aggressive and intensive rehab.” Despite that positive spin, Lewis has had to cancel several upcoming dates, including an April 28 performance at the 2019 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. He will be replaced by Johnny Rivers for that gig. Hmmm....not the same. LEARN MORE
BRING BACK THE BUS. The Maxwell Street Foundation is looking for help to restore the iconic Blues Bus originally operated at the historic Maxwell Street Market. The bus has been stored by benefactors to the Maxwell Street Foundation in gated parking lots since 2004 and has been out of service since 2014. In 2018, the bus was severely damaged by vandals. If you would like to partner to preserve this important part of Maxwell Street's history, you can contact the Maxwell Street Foundation: EMAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure the Subject Line of your email says Blues Bus. FACEBOOK: facebook.com/maxwellstreetfoundation LEARN MORE
MAKIN' MUSIC.Jeff Dale will be starting a Kickstarter Project soon to fund Blues Power, the first new South Woodlawners album in five years. Stay tuned.
RIVER OF TEARS. I honestly didn't think that it was possible for 2019 to be worse that 2018, but it's still only March and it's so far been pretty grim. We have lost so many members of the blues community already and every time I wander the internet, I find a few more terrible stories. This week, I discovered these people also had passed recently:
From what I can surmise, blues guitarist Quintus McCormick passed Jan. 28, 2019. The Detroit native was in J.W. Williams and the Chi-town Hustlers while getting a bachelor's degree in music from Chicago’s Columbia College. He also played guitar with James Cotton, Otis Clay, A.C. Reed and Lefty Dizz. His debut CD, Hey Jodie, came out in 2010 on Delmark. It was followed by two others (Still Called the Blues and Put It on Me!).
Ron Salazar, 53
A friend to the Maxwell Street Foundation and to the city of Chicago, passed away suddenly on Jan. 26, 2019. Ron worked for the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE), and prior to that for the Mayor’s Office of Special Events (MOSE).
And 2018 also ended on a terrible note. Ruth Brisbane, the vocalist for the Harlem Blues and Jazz Band, died in an accident. No other details are available. And, also at the end of 2018, a 21-year-old woman named Sarah Papenheim, who was a blues drummer from Minneapolis studying in The Netherlands, was stabbed to death by her roommate. (NOTE: The link above has a video of Papenheim playing with Bernard Allison).
ONE MORE THING. My condo building decided to switch internet providers on THURS, MAR 28, without bothering to ask me if it would disrupt my life in any way. So...they say it will be seamless, but you know how that goes. My point? The newsletter might have to mail on Friday if things go haywire. I am certain we will all survive the inconvenience.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Paid subscriptions to music streaming services hit a new high in 2018, topping 50 million subscribers
Streaming services made $4.7 billion last year, up from $3.5 billion in 2014
75% of music industry revenue now comes from streaming
PHYSICAL SALES Vinyl records – Up 8%, totaling $419 million, the highest amount since 1988 CDs – Down almost 34% to $698 million Other physical media (including cassettes) – down 22% to $9.6 million
Tiffany Pollack & Eric Johanson | Blues In My Blood RELEASE DATE: Feb. 15 (Nola Blue Records)
This CD joins two third-generation members of a musical family: New Orleans jazz singer Tiffany Pollack and Eric Johanson, who records for Tab Benoit's record label and sometimes even plays with Tab.If that is not enough to sell you, note that the guest harp player is the great Johnny Sansone. The 11 tracks are a mix of originals and covers.
Little Freddie King | Absolutely The Best RELEASE DATE: Feb.15 (MadeWright Records)
Seventy-nine-year-old Little Freddie King, like most people his age, has been around the block a few times. This 13-track compilation offers delta-style blues mixed with the urban blues that resulted from the Great Migration ofthe 20th century.
Kenny "Beedy Eyes" Smith and the House Bumpers | Drop the Hammer RELEASE DATE: 3.15.19 (Big Eye Records) Kenny Smith, the son of blues royalty, grew up watching and learning from the masters of Chicago blues. For his new recording, he has put together a band of his contemporary masters: Greg Guy (guitar), Sugar Blue (harp), Felton Crews (bass), Billy Flynn (guitar), Guy King (guitar), Ari Seder (bass), Luca Chiellini (keys), Omar Coleman (harp) and Nelson Strange (guitar). They are joined by vocalists Andrea Miologos, Dana Gordon and Kim Johnson. The 12 tracks are all originals written by Smith.
Cash Box Kings | Hail to the Kings! RELEASE DATE: 5.17.19 (Alligator)
It is no secret that I love the Cash Box Kings, a band that effortlessly combines old school and new school blues into something completely their own. Harp player Joe Nosek and singer Oscar Wilson are a powerful combination who write most of the songs (in this case, 11 of the 13 on this recording). And who can argue with a rhythm section that includes Billy Flynn (guitar), Kenny "Beedy Eyes" Smith (drums) and John Lauler (bass) plus pianist Rie Lee Kanehira (aka Queen Lee)? Oh yeah, another queen–Shemekia Copeland–also makes a guest appearance on The Wine Talkin', trading quips with Oscar Wilson.
LAST CALL! THURS, APR 4 @ City Winery DEADLINE TO ENTER:SUN, MAR 25 @ Midnight
Tommy Castro & The Painkillers SPECIAL GUEST: Kevin Burt
Tommy Castro is touring right now in support of his new live album, Killin' It, which was recorded at shows in Texas, New York, Michigan and California, with, Castro says, the "best band we have ever had." Opening for Castro is the wonderful Kevin Burt, who swept the 34th International Blues Challenge awards in 2018, winning all three awards he was nominated for: First Place Solo/Duo, Best Solo/Duo Guitarist, and the Lee Oskar Award for Best Harmonica Player. This will be a special night. LEARN MORE ABOUT TOMMY CASTRO
HOW TO ENTER
EMAIL SUBJECT: Kill My Pain, Tommy! BODY OF EMAIL: Your name, email address & phone ENTER RIGHT NOW
I listened to Eilen Jewell's 2017 release, Down Hearted Blues, a lot before this show and LOVED it. It is a beautiful collection of classic blues covers from people like Bessie Smith, Howlin' Wolf, Memphis Minnie and Frankie Lee Sims. (If you have Amazon Prime, you also can listen to Down Hearted Blues –for free.) Because of this wonderful recording, I assumed this show would be heavy on blues. I was wrong–and disappointed–but her loyal fans appeared to love the show, probably because they knew what to expect. Jordie Lane opened the show and he is...Australian (not that there's anything wrong with that). The problem for me? Probably a lot more folk and Americana than I ever want to hear in a single night.