Blues Birthdays

What tunes really get you in the Blues Groooove

Blues Birthdays

Postby funkyfreak » Mon Apr 11, 2005 10:20 pm

I haven't had internet for a few days, so I'm playing catch-up here.


Big Walter Horton was born April 6th, 1918 in Horn Lake, Mississippi.

Horton, aka "Shakey", "Mumbles" and "Big Walter", claimed to have taught himself harmonica by the time he was five years old, and certainly the extraordinary skill he achieved speaks of a very special affinity with the instrument.

By his teens, he was in Memphis and beginning to make a living from music. He later claimed to have been on recordings by the Memphis Jug Band in 1927, but as he would have been only nine years old, this seems unlikely. More plausibly, he may have been the harmonica accompanist on Buddy Doyle's 1939 records.

Throughout the 40s, he continued to develop his skills on the instrument, but it was not until 1951 that he recorded in his own right, back in Memphis. Over the next two years he made a series of recordings, many of which were not issued until many years later, but which demonstrate Horton's remarkable talent, singing and playing his harmonica with great skill and imagination.

One of the finest recordings was "Easy', a slow instrumental solo, accompanied only by Jimmy DeBerry's guitar, issued on Sun in 1953. Later that year, he was again in Chicago and issued two sides under Johnny Shines' name.

With Horton's brilliant, soaring and swooping harmonica work and Shines' uniquely powerful, impassioned vocals, "Evening Sun", with its flip-side "Brutal Hearted Woman", was widely regarded as one of the finest blues records from post-war Chicago.

Throughout the decade, he was playing regularly in Chicago, sometimes with Shines, or with Muddy Waters. He appeared on some of the latter's recordings, as well as others by Jimmy Rogers, Arbee Stidham and Sunnyland Slim.

In the 60s, he reached a new audience, travelling widely in the USA and touring Europe with blues packages. As time went on, he demonstrated his
versatility by adding pop and jazz themes to his repertoire, as well as showing a fondness for Latin tunes such as "La Cucaracha" and "La Paloma".

He was always primarily a blues player and the tough, electric sounds of Memphis and Chicago remained the essence of his music through many fine recordings in the 60s and 70s.

Buy his CDs


-FF
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Postby funkyfreak » Wed Apr 13, 2005 6:16 pm

Shakey Jake is one of my favorite artists of all time. If you are at Cheap Thrills this weekend, you will hear me announce the songs of his I play in rememberance of his contributions.


James D. Harris aka Shakey Jake was born April 12th, 1921 in Earle, Arkansas.

A professional gambler when not playing harmonica (his nickname was derived from the crapshooters' call "Shake 'em, Jake"), Harris began playing in Chicago blues bands during the late 40s. His 1958 single "Call Me If You Need Me"/"Roll Your Moneymaker", recorded for the Artistic subsidiary of Cobra Records, featured guitar work by his nephew Magic Sam.

During the 60s he recorded two albums that did not do him justice, as club recordings with Sam make evident.

His encouragement of younger musicians brought about the recording debut of, among others, Luther Allison, with whom Jake recorded his best album after moving to Los Angeles. In later years, occasional recordings appeared, including some on his own label, and Harris ran a blues club for a while, but was dogged by poor health and isolated by neighbourhood gang violence.

-FF
Last edited by funkyfreak on Wed Apr 13, 2005 6:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby funkyfreak » Wed Apr 13, 2005 6:17 pm

Ann Rabson was born April 12th, 1945 in New York City, NY.

Ann Rabson, Gaye Adegbalola and Earlene Lewis formed the all female blues trio Saffire-The Uppity Blues Women.

Rabson grew up in Ohio, where she took up the guitar and began singing professionally at the age of 18. Moving to Fredericksburg, Virginia, in 1971, she met Gaye Adegbalola and gave her guitar lessons. As well as each performing solo, the pair began to gig together in 1984.

Four years later, they gave up their jobs as computer analyst and science teacher to form Saffire with Lewis, a real estate agent who played in a bluegrass band. A demo tape sent to Bruce Iglauer resulted in their signing with Alligator Records. Their debut album was one of the label's bestsellers for 1990 and Adegbalola won a W.C. Handy Award for Song Of The Year with "Middle Aged Blues Boogie".

While recording Broadcasting, Lewis left the group, to be replaced by Andra Faye McIntosh, who already played guitar, violin and mandolin and thereafter took up the double bass. While benefiting from the heightened awareness of feminism, the group manages to combine a politically correct posture with humour and musicianship.
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Postby funkyfreak » Wed Apr 13, 2005 6:19 pm

Theodore Roosevelt Taylor aka Hound Dog Taylor was born April 12th, 1915 in Natchez, Mississippi.

Taylor had an apprenticeship playing guitar in Mississippi with musicians such as Elmore James and John Lee "Sonny Boy" Williamson.

In 1942, he moved to Chicago where he worked the clubs as well as the market on Maxwell Street.

Two singles from the early 60s underlined the vitality of his music, especially the high-energy "Take Five". Taylor and his band the HouseRockers (featuring second guitarist Brewer Phillips and drummer Ted Harvey), won a following among young blues fans and toured Europe as well as North America.

In the early 70s, Taylor and the HouseRockers made two explosive studio albums for Alligator Records which helped establish a reputation for intense bottleneck guitar blues and R&B. Sadly Taylor did not live long enough to exploit this reputation, dying of cancer in 1975.
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