It helps you remember 2020 was the international year of the blues. Buying the calendar shows you “have a feeling ’21 is gonna be a good year”, especially with blues photojournalist Peter M. Hurley’s photos of the best performances from this year. Plus, @ChiBluesHistory author “Southside” Marty Weil gives more than 50 “Chicago Blues Nights in History to Celebrate” with a sip and a song.
Blues Sidemen Front and Center by Marty Weil @ChiBluesHistory
A summit of the Chicago blues drummers who worked as sidemen and studio musicians
Blues bandleaders, such as Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf, maintained a stable of touring musicians and studio session players, which meant they had to constantly be looking for promising blues talent. To remain at the top of the Chicago blues world, Wolf and Waters recruited and retained the highest caliber sidemen available. The problem for both men was that talented, ambitious sidemen would often leave to form their own bands. In effect, opening up shop in direct competition with their former bosses.
Little Walter, for instance, was one of the most prominent Muddy Waters’ sidemen to venture off on his own. He did not depart gracefully. After scoring a hit with the Waters band’s stage theme song (“Juke”) for Chess in 1952, Little Walter left Muddy Waters at the apron of a stage. According to accounts from former band members, when Muddy’s band arrived for a gig at a club shortly after Chess released Juke, the song could be heard playing repeatedly on the jukebox. Once Walter realized the reaction to Juke was overwhelmingly positive, he grabbed his hat and left to form Little Walter and His Jukes. Walter recruited the Aces—the brothers David and Louis Myers on guitars and Fred Below on drums—who, at the time, were hard at work backing bandleader Junior Wells as his sidemen.
The importance of sidemen was immortalized on film in the 2016 documentary “Sidemen: Long Road to Glory.” The film examines the incredible lives and legacies of such preeminent sidemen as piano player Pinetop Perkins, drummer Willie ‘Big Eyes’ Smith and guitarist Hubert Sumlin, all Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf sidemen. The film captures some of the last interviews and their final live performances together, before their deaths in 2011. “There wouldn’t be any rock ‘n’ roll if it wasn’t for those guys,” bluesman Johnny Winter says in the film. “They’ve had a huge influence.”
Marty Weil is the editor of@CHIBLUESHISTORYon Twitter. Marty is a blues researcher, educator, and social media influencer.
Pete’s Pics “Blues in Action” by Peter M. Hurley
(Clockwise from top left) PEACHES STATEN, IVY FORD, JOANNA CONNOR, ANNE HARRIS
A theory that all phenomena can be explained as manifestations of force. Continuous change activity or force. Great energy, drive, force, or power; vigor of body, mind or personality; oomph or pizzazz.
Photos taken at Reggie’s, House of Blues, Skokie Theater, 2016-2020.
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. Visit Peter’s Website here.
Chicago Blues Network Trading 4s New Year’s Eve, 9:00 PM CST Nine incredible performers, tickets are $9.95. (Free admission with purchase of the 2021 calendar)
Performers at this special event Trading 4s include Jimmy Johnson, Joanna Connor, Billy Flynn, Anne Harris, Johnny Iguana, Peaches Staten, Dave Specter, Ivy Ford, and Brother John Kattke. If you purchase the Chicago Blues Network Trading 4s 2021 Calendar, you’ll find a ticket included.
Listenin’ In…Blues Podcasts “Blues from the Inside Out” Dave Specter Interviews Jimmy Johnson
In this episode from the vault, legendary Chicago bluesman extraordinaire Jimmy Johnson joins Dave in a cool and intimate conversation covering Jimmy’s early days from Mississippi to Memphis, and shares great stories about his incredible music career in Chicago.
Jimmy Johnson and Dave Specter are just two of the amazing artists scheduled to perform in the New Year’s Eve Trading 4s at 9:00 PM CST. Remember to get your tickets here.
Blues from the Inside Out is a monthly podcast featuring top names in blues and roots music from a unique, artist-to-artist interview perspective and often includes live studio performances and jam sessions.
“No Border Blues” Johnny Burgin and Stephanie Tice interview The Jelly Roll Men about their pilgrimage to Willie Brown’s grave
“No Border Blues” Episode 7 features The Jelly Roll Men from Norway, a band that’s a labor of love for the greatest era of Chicago blues– the late 40s and early 50s.
Singer and harp player Kent Erik Thorvaldsen and guitarist and brother Tomas Thorvaldsen tell the story of their trip to Memphis in 2019. They made it to the semi-finals of the IBCs representing the Oslo Blues Society, but their trip to the IBCs was less about their career and more about an emotional pilgrimage to the American South.
They immersed themselves in Southern blues culture during their trip, and even spent two days trying to find (and finally finding) the secluded grave of Delta bluesman Willie Brown. Their debut CD, Jelly Roll Shuffle, was produced by purist fellow-traveler Little Victor and was released on the German rockabilly/roots label Rhythm Bomb Records. You can watch the interview in the video below:
No Border Blues w/ Johnny Burgin & Stephanie Tice
Learn Blues at Home… We bring the lessons of Chicago Blues Masters to you with videos and LIVE Zoom meetings with the Instructor.