Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Taking the Blues Time Machine Back to June 1977

This is my blues column from the June 1977 Buffalo Jazz Report which had Dizzy Gillespie on the cover. I have noted the first 58 issues of Buffalo Jazz Report (now Jazz & Blues Report) 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. This column is devoted to live performances as well as reviews of reissues by John Lee Hooker and Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee. These albums were reissued by Fantasy I believe and may be available today.
The Belle Starr out in Colden, NY continued to bring blues acts to the Buffalo area. Early May saw Buddy Guy and Junior Wells. I caught their opening act and wasn’tt oo impressed with their new back-up band. When both Philip Guy and Buddy started to take the spotlight things got better and things were going well till Buddy broke a string during Junior Wells stint. Buddy wasn't able to get back in tune and it was a little disappointing. Others told me that other nights went much better.
 


Son Seals' debut at the Belle Starr, and first Buffalo area appearance in a couple years, was one of the finest blues acts I've seen in awhile. Son is an acidic singer and fiery guitarist and accompanied by a tough and tight band, including the aptly named Harry 'Snapper' Mitchum on bass, Pete Allen on guitar and Tony Gooden on drums, that provided quite a full sound. Son played quite a varied set doing hot versions of I Wonder Why, Sweet Angel Child, Why I Sing the Blues as well as tunes from his two Alligator albums such as Ray Charles' I Believe, Junior Parker's Telephone Angel and his own No, No Baby and Down on My Knees. Your Love is Like a Cancer is my own favorite taken at a rocking tempo with its stinging lyrics and guitar work. Son, on the basis of his records and his live performances deserves to be better known. If you are near where he is playing, do check him out.

As far as records go Fantasy has a twofer series of blues reissues. John Lee Hooker's Black Snake (F-24722) is reissued from two sets on Riverside. Hooker is solo on one record and on the other side bassist Sam Jones and drummer Louis Hayes accompany on most of the material. There is better John Lee Hooker available, but their is also a lot worse stuff to listen to by him.

Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee are one of the blues most celebrated duos delighting audiences for many years. Midnight Special (Fantasy F-24721) captures Sonny's exuberant harp playing and Brownie's fluid guitar. While this isn't down home country music but rather music for a white folk audience these 960 sides show that their professional approach doesn't mean the music lacks warmth or spirit. There mastery of the rural blues tradition shines and this set provides ample testimony to their contribution to American music.

Finally the Belle Starr continues to bring blues acts to the area. June 23-26 blues singer and guitarist Mighty Joe Young will be out at Holland-Glenwood Road. Mighty Joe Young is one of Chicago's finest musicians, a fact readily seen by his being in demand as a session man. He has recorded behind the late Magic Sam, Jimmy Dawkins, Willie Dixon, Koko Taylor, Otis Rush, Jimmy Rogers, Fenton Robinson, Tyrone Davis among others. He has four albums out including the fine Blues With a Touch of Soul on Delmark, an album on GNP-Crescendo and two sets on Ovation. Joe is a mellow singer with a clean fluid guitar attack. This will be my first chance to see him in about six years. Hope to see you there.
 

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