“I just get an idea and then all of a sudden I’ve got a song.” – John Lee Hooker
Saturday December 19, 2020 Volume 1, Issue 36
Goodbye 2020…Hello Free Tickets!
Start the new year in style…Chicago Style, with this At Home Chicago Blues Trading 4s 2021 calendar. With gorgeous photos by Peter M. Hurley, and blues history dates by Marty Weil @ChiBluesHistory, it beams with the beauty of the Blues.
As our gift to you, free tickets to the next Trading 4s Show are included with the calendar ($33.00 w/tax).
“Pete’s Pics: Blues in Action” by Peter M. Hurley Feature: Guy King
GUY KING. JOURNEY-MAN.
A gentleman Gent. Jumped in feet first into the cauldron of Wille Kent blues and hunkered down with the best of ’em. A guitarist’s guitarist. Expresses beautiful lines, turns them inside out and gets to the heart of it. Paints aural pictures of New Orleans, Memphis, and Chicago and his native soil on strings.
“When playing music is synchronized and gelling, it feels like home, it’s the most natural thing in the world” says this virtuoso. “When the band is cooking and in a groove and when I’m in that music state of naturalness, it feels like walking down the street with half a smile and the sun is on my face.”
Though the pandemic has curtailed touring, Guy has relished his family time and has reached “home” in this profound way. In the meantime, he has a cd of all original material that he is looking forward to releasing and touring behind when the world and blues music can open up again.
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. FOR WEBSITE, CLICK HERE.
Reminder! You can enjoy a free concert with the Firehouse Community Arts Center’s virtual Holiday Party. Watch it now until 12/22, sign up here:https://thefcac.org/holidayconcert/
“Heart of the Blues” by Joanna Connor
Joanna Connor is a weekly contributor to bBluesNote with her column “Heart of the Blues.” Joannais a Guitar Instructor with At Home Chicago Blues. To learn more about Joannavisit her website or watch her videos. To take lessons with Joanna,click here.
This week, December 9, in the midst of the omnipresent stream of news and events that will surely send you to your nearest libation, a legalized (finally, well in Illinois at least) fatty, or maybe a pan of brownies, (don’t forget the ice cream), in celebration of the heavenly birthday anniversary of a man who was born in West Memphis Arkansas in 1934 – probably not the best of times either. And with this baby came a mischievous and irrepressible nature, charisma, and an abundance of musical gifts. Amos Wells Blakemore, Jr, known throughout the world as Junior Wells, a fireball of a human who became a gift to generations past, present and future.
This isn’t yet another biography of this musician who blazed trails, forged an unforgettable style, took the place of his hero, Little Walter, in Muddy Water’s seminal unit in the 1950s, recorded one of the finest blues albums ever “Hoodoo Man Blues”. Junior toured the entire planet with his partner in music and shenanigans, Buddy Guy for decades, toured with The Rolling Stones.
No, this is my recollection of a man who was as genuine and as compelling and intriguing as his virtuosic harmonica playing and singing.
I was privileged to be in the audience as Jr and Buddy traded sizzling licks and even more incendiary insults on stages in New England numerous times, starting at the ripe old age of 12. I would have never dreamed I would play guitar behind Junior numerous times during my tenures at Kingston Mines, the Checkerboard Lounge, Theresa’s Lounge and Rosa’s Lounge. (funny name for those places – lounge, surely nothing loungey about any of them!)
Junior held court onstage. He pulled from deep within to deliver his music but there was always a hint of humor. Junior always brought the party.
Ladies loved him. Men respected him. He was always a sharp dressed man. He always delivered a dynamic, often times off the cuff show. He was never predictable.
Buddy Guy (left) and Junior Wells (right)
One of my favorite stories I tell often goes back to 1987. Junior had parted ways with Buddy by then. He was on the main stage at the Kingston Mines and I was very, very pregnant with my son, playing my Stratocaster on my hip (my belly was LARGE, my son was born ten ponds and four ounces!) in Dion Payton’s Band. We were the house band there every Thursday, Friday and Saturday. As I was watching Junior while we took our break he announced “you see that girl guitar player over there- Joanna Connor, well she is having my baby”. If true, that would have been the second immaculate conception. Dozens of people congratulated me. Junior came up to me after the show and rubbed my belly, bent down and sang to my future music engineer/ producer son. Perhaps he was somehow baptized by the Hoodoo Man.
A few years later backstage at a festival in The Netherlands, Junior and I shared a dressing room and my 4 year old son was with me. My boy was absolutely fascinated with Junior, who was dressed in sky blue and white from his hat to his shoes. Junior and my toddler hung out the whole time and Junior played harmonica for him. Unforgettable…
I miss Junior. But I don’t feel sad, even though his life wasn’t that long. He passed at 63, but he packed more living into his time here than three men. I always remember him smiling, always dressed impeccably, wearing the Jewish star his girl Gail of many years gave him. Rest in Peace doesn’t fit Junior. Somewhere there is a dance party going on and he’s the ring leader…
Be well everyone and take it light like Junior would have.
Here’s Junior Wells’s song “Messin’ With the Kid” Taught by Dave Specter, Chicago Blues Network Musical Director and Guitar Instructor
Dave Specter: “Messin’ with the Kid” Guitar Lesson
The Rivalry Between Muddy and the Wolf by Marty Weil @ChiBluesHistory
Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf in Ann Arbor
In 1953 when Howlin’ Wolf rolled into Chicago with a wad of bills in his pocket but no place to lay his head, Muddy Waters let him rent space out of his house, and the two men became friends. It doesn’t sound like the beginning of a bitter rivalry and it wasn’t. That’s because while the two men were serious competitors for decades and sometimes clashed over personnel and club dates, their rivalry is more myth than fact. A myth perhaps fanned a bit by their label, Chess Records, which was always trying to squeeze a last drop of emotion out of their biggest stars’ performances on record.
The closest the two men ever came to a real break in their relationship was when Muddy hired guitarist Hubert Sumlin, Wolf’s alter ego, and one of the Top 25 guitar players of the 20th century, according to Rollin’ Stone magazine’s rankings. It didn’t help that Sumlin was also Wolf’s driver and most trusted confidant. Sumlin and Wolf were so close that Hubert was named as Wolf’s son in his funeral program. Muddy, always searching for the best players for his well-stocked band, must’ve known hiring Sumlin would greatly upset Wolf, but he also knew Wolf would fire and rehire Sumlin with comical regularity. Muddy took advantage of Wolf’s unhealthy practice. Luckily for all involved, six months after he was hired by Muddy, Sumlin was right back by Wolf’s side where he steadfastly remained until the great bandleader’s death. The incident over Sumlin’s employment situation and a few other tussles left each man accusing the other of professional jealousy.
The arguments the two men had throughout the years revolved mostly around business, and business in Chicago could get a little messy, especially in the mid-20th century. However, on the occasion of the 1969 Ann Arbor Blues Festival, with both Chicago legendary bandleaders scheduled to play, the two men spent an afternoon drinking and commiserating. As that Michigan day bridged to evening, Wolf and Waters could be found intermittently laughing, hugging, and crying. It was a public reconciliation that was captured in a glorious photo taken on that magical day in Ann Arbor.
Marty Weil is the editor of@CHIBLUESHISTORYon Twitter. Marty is a blues researcher, educator, and social media influencer.
Here’s Muddy Waters’s song “Got My Mojo Workin'” Taught by Joanna Connor, Chicago Blues Network Slide Guitar Instructor
Joanna Connor: “Got My Mojo Workin'” Guitar Lesson
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