Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Taking the Blues Time Machine Back to May 1977

This is my blues column from the May 1977 Buffalo Jazz Report which had the great Roy Haynes  on the cover. My column was relatively lengthy, and included a Blues On EP segment which I will post next week. 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. Note that Southern Record sales from which I obtained some releases no longer exists, and of course Living Blues is no longer published in Chicago. Some of the recordings I reviewed are not easily found these days, but the Carey Bell, Johnny Shines and Phillip Walker should be available in some form.

March and April have been good months for live blues in Buffalo. Muddy Waters came to town with Johnny Winter and James Cotton for an entertaining show at the Shea's though Winter's contribution was strictly his name as he sang terribly and his guitar playing characterized by the typical excesses of rock guitarists. The following weeks concert of B.B. King and Bobby Bland has each do nice sets of their hits and then dueted together to close a fine evening of blues.

Johnny Shines, Big Walter Horton and the Rhythm Rockers were at the Belle Starr in Colden. The Rhythm Rockers are an excellent white blues band led by John Nicholas on vocals and guitar and Ron Levy on piano (He played with B.B. for several years). They played some fine West Coast styled blues mostly and did provide strong support for Horton and Shines. Horton proved himself the greatest living harp player alive with his warm fluid style of playing and his fat tone. Shines played some electric slide guitar and sand with his gut-tearing vibrato. The highlight of the night I saw them was the duets of Horton and John Nichols which was great stuff.

I missed Muddy's appearance at the Belle Starr with his regular group though I'm told they did well. Finally Robert Jr. Lockwood's appearance at the folk festival was marred by the sound at the Clark Hall. Robert's guitar work suffered as he and his band's other vocalist Otis Trotter sang well. Robert's white guitarist Mike Hahn did much of the soloing and displayed considerable mastery. "Hold Everything" was Robert's best number as the sound was sorted well enough for Robert's dazzling chord-work to shine. It was nice, but Robert and his band should be booked into a club where they can get a better feel. Robert is playing weekends (Thursday through Sunday) in Cleveland.

For those who caught Walter Horton and Johnny Shines at the Belle Starr I would suggest you check up on their recordings. Big Walter's album on Alligator (4702) features his fluid work backed by Eddie Taylor. Carey Bell, one of Walter's pupils on harp, also duets with his teacher on a nice set ranging from Having a Good Time, Little Boy Blue to Trouble in Mind. Johnny Shines has several fine albums out. His Advent album (2803) is stunning featuring six solo performances in the Mississippi Delta tradition and five tracks where he is backed by guitarist Philip Walker's band. One of the band tracks My Love Can't Hide is done over a smoldering band with Shine's vibrato singing creating an intensity matched only by Otis Rush. I agree with Living Blues that this is not to be missed. Both of these albums have been available for some time now but as many may be unfamiliar with these, do try to pick up on them.

Philip Walker incidentally has a solid new album, Someday You’ll Have These Blues (Joliet 6001). Philip had a now out of pr!nt album on Playboy and has done much session work (Johnny Shines and Eddie Taylor for Advent) and is a fleet guitarist and a grainy singer who comes through with strong performances. Particularly fine are Mama's Gone, EI Paso Blues and a gospel number When It Needs Gettin' Done. Definitely one to check out. If you can't find it at stores try Southern Record Sales, 42 North Lake Ave., Pasadena, Cal. 91101. Stores interested in carrying this album night write Joliet Record Co P.0. Box 67201, Los Angeles, Ca. 90067 or Southern Record Sales for information on where they might be able to acquire copies for sale.

Another West Coast bluesman is Sleepy Jim Berry who I had acquired a 45 of a few years back. That single Long Time Blues is included on his album The Berry Patch (Consolidated BR-103) an album which is mixed in material and quality but does Include some good strong slow blues notably Long Time and Dehydrated Love. Southern Record Sales can supply this.

It is great to have James Peterson back in Buffalo playing the blues weekends at the Sunset Inn on Main Street. Buddy Guy and Junior Wells are scheduled at the Belle Starr May 4-8 and of course the great Big Joe Turner and Lloyd Glenn at the Tralfamadore at the end of May (the 27-29) as a benefit for WBFO and part of Listener Support Week.

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