When Chicago Blues Hall-Of-Famer JOHN WATKINS is firing on all cylinders, he really turns it out. Long-time solo artist, band leader and member of the ORIGINAL CHICAGO BLUES ALL STARS, John is now helming the JOHN WATKINS BAND(JWB) in Detroit. 

Watkins came up the Chicago blues way, playing with Buddy Guy at Theresa’s Lounge, with Koko Taylor, Son Seals and Jr. Wells and others in the clubs, and touring and recording with Willie Dixon, James Cotton and his uncle Jimmy Johnson. His debut album/cd made in France (w/Johnson) HERE I AM contains some of the finest and tighest blues ensemble work on record and is still available through John’s website.  

Of the live performance experience John says “it’s a beautiful feeling, one you never forget. My job is to make the listeners happy and always has been.” His new band in Detroit is a nice cross section of veterans and youngsters which keeps the music fresh and lively. He has also teamed recently with oft-bandmate and cohort John Maurice Vaughn and fellow All Star Freddie Dixon for a cd titled 3 BY 3 due out in May of this year.  “Playing live and recording is the lifeblood of any musician, blues included,” says Watkins. “We can’t wait until the veil is lifted from playing at clubs and festivals. We’ll be coming out strong when it is.”

Check out John’s 2 cds as a leader, the aforementioned HERE I AM and LIVING THE BLUES (the title song popularly covered by Tracy Nelson is a feature of all her live performances). Available here.

Photo taken at Motor Row Brewing w/the Original Chicago Blues All Stars, Aug 2016.

– Peter M. Hurley 

Mr. Hurley is a contributing photographer and writer for Living Blues Magazine and the staff photographer for Chicago Blues Network. His recent book Blues Legacy: Tradition and Innovation in Chicago, in collaboration with Blues historian and author David Whiteis, showcases his work in the field. His passion for blues music began with the Chess Studios’ sound of Bo Diddley and continues to this day.