Tuesday, March 11, 2014

A Blues Time Machine From August 1976

The Jazz & Blues Report is celebrating its 40th Anniversary with the March-April 2014 issue. I started writing for it in 1976 and here is my first column Blues that I wrote for it. before I started writing reviews. I wish I was still so pithy instead of long-winded. :) It was originally the Buffalo Jazz Report and the first 58 issues have been digitized and can be downloaded from the University of Buffalo Library system. The website for these archived issues is: http://digital.lib.buffalo.edu/cdm/landingpage/collection/BuffJazz. I believe the only recordings mentioned in the column that are still available is Otis Rush's Cold Day in Hell and Hound Dog Taylor's Beware of the Dog

This is the first of a series of columns which will include both live blues in the area, and recent recordings. WBFO-FM provides the Buffalo area with the only regular blues pro- gramming. Shades of Blue with Babe Barlow is heard Saturdays from 10 PM to Midnight. I do both Bon Ton Roulet as part of This is Radio on Wednesdays (3 PM) and Ramblin' with the Blues on Thursday evenings from 10 to 11. Other folk pro- grams on WBFO do have feature blues (though not exclusively). Listed in this column will be any regular blues programs in any city the BJR services.

The Belle Starr is the only place in the Buffalo area that isbringing in blues bands from out of town. The Buddy Guy-Junior Wells band appeared in May, and Muddy Waters was there in early July. Both groups played well and were well received. Hopefully some Buffalo bars may follow the Belle Starr and bring in some Chicago bands. Locally Shakin' Smith continues at the Buena Vista Wednesday and Saturday evenings. 

1976 has seen the release of a number of very fine albums. Robert Jr. Lockwood and the Aces, Blues Live in Japan (Advent 2807) is the finest of the three albums that Lockwood headIines. Formerly a guitarist with Sonny Boy Williamson and Little Walter, as well as being Robert Johnson's stepson, Lockwood is a brilliant blues guitarist, playing in a jazz-flavored style, and sings in a straight forward fashion that brings new life to such standards as 'Stormy Monday' and 'Worried Life Blues'. An added treat is Louis Myers vocals, slide guitar on Anna Lee and his harp playing on Little and Low behind Lockwood's vocal.

Mr. Johnson's Blues (Mamlish S-3807) is the only American release of Lonnie Johnson's recordings from the 20s and 30s. A well-programmed album, it provides variety in material and setting. Lonnie Johnson is featured both as a singer and accompanist and plays not only guitar,but piano and violin. Also heard are Eddie Lang, Texas Alexander, Clara Smith and Victoria Spivey. An extremely important release which should make many familiar with one of the pioneers in jazz and blues. 

Among other albums, Otis Rush's 1st album in 8 years Cold Day in Hell (Delmark DS-638) is one of the finest blues albums in recent years. Rush sings and plays with incredible intensity. Highly recommended to fans of B.B. King-styled blues. Hound Dog Taylor's posthumously released live album Beware of the Dog (Alligator 4707) captures the infectious quality of his rocking blues and boogie. He will be missed. The James Cotton Band's Live and on the Move(Buddah BDS 5661-2) also is an album of boogie which also should have wide appeal. I find the album a Iittle too frantic and the music too hurried though many of you will probably find it to your liking.

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