“The blues is the foundation for a lot of things. Things have branched off. It’s cool how music grows, but the foundation is always there. It’s not going anywhere. The blues is always going to be relevant.” – Gary Clark Jr.
June 23, 2021 Volume 2, Issue 29
Pete’s Pics “Blues in Action” by Peter M. Hurley
Excerpt From LURRIE BELL’S bio on his official website: www.lurrie.com
Born in 1958, the son of famed blues harmonica player Carey Bell, LURRIE BELL picked up his father’s guitar at the age of five and taught himself to play. He was clearly gifted. In addition, he grew up with many of the Chicago blues legends around him. Eddie Taylor, Big Walter Horton, Eddie C. Campbell, Eddie Clearwater, Lovie Lee, Sunnyland Slim, Jimmy Dawkins and many more were frequent visitors to his house. They all helped to shape and school him in the blues, but none as much as his father’s long-time employer Muddy Waters.
At seven years old, Bell left Chicago to live in Mississippi and Alabama with his grandparents. During this time he played mostly in the church, immersing himself in the passionate expressiveness of the gospel tradition. At fourteen he moved back to Chicago and continued to play in church as well as forming his first blues band while attending high school.
By seventeen Lurrie Bell was playing on stage with Willie Dixon. In 1977 he was a founding member of The Sons of Blues with Freddie Dixon (son of Willie) and Billy Branch. The band recorded three standout tracks for Alligator Records’ Grammy nominated Living Chicago Blues series. In 1978 Bell joined Koko Taylor’s band and stayed for several years, honing his chops and learning the ropes of being a traveling musician. He continued to work with his dad as well, recording the 1984 Rooster Blues album Son Of a Gun and several other titles for UK’s JSP Records. Not only was Bell recognized as an exceptionally talented guitarist and musician, his knowledge of different blues styles, his soulfulness and his musical maturity delivered write-ups in publications such as Rolling Stone and The New York Times.
Photo taken @ Chicago Blues Fest, 2016. -Peter M. Hurley
Selected Discography: 2016: “Can’t Shake This Feeling” – Delmark Records 2013: “Blues in My Soul” – Delmark Records 2012: “The Devil Ain’t Got No Music” – Aria BG Records 2011: Chicago Blues: A Living History (The Revolution Continues) – Raisin’ Music w/Buddy Guy, Magic Slim, Billy Boy Arnold, Ronnie Baker Brooks, and Billy Branch 2009: Chicago Blues: A Living History – Raisin’ Music w/Billy Boy Arnold, John Primer and Billy Branch (Grammy Nominated)
TOUR DATES June 26, 2021 Broad Street Blues & BBQ Fest-Griffith, IN July 06, 2021 Fitzgerald’s-Berwyn, IL July 31, 2021 Prairie Dog Blues Fest, Prairie Du Chien, WI August 20, 2021 Rollin’ On The River Bluesfest-Keokuk, IA September 17, 2021 Caribbean Club-Kyiv, Ukraine September 25, 2021 Oxford Blues Festival-Oxford, MS
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 a 6th grade dance party discovery of Bo Diddley which led to Little Walter, muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf and so on. It continues to this day. Visit Peter’s Website here.
A Deeper Look (and Listen) to Lurrie Bell Review of Lurrie Bell’s Mercurial Son by Kevin Johnson in Rhythm & News
Lurrie Bell’s Hipshank
In my opinion, this is by far Lurrie Bell’s most exciting and interesting recording of his amazing life long blues career. 1995’s Mercurial Son was Lurrie’s first Delmark recording and first domestic release as a leader, after a JSP debut from London in ’89. Lurrie started recording as a featured sideman/lead guitarist when he was just a kid at 19 in ’77 with his legendary father, the late harmonica ace Carey Bell (on Delmark’s Heartache and Pain) and with his godfather, Eddie C. Campbell on his ’77 debut (the classic King of the Jungle,) as well as many other recordings, including with famous relatives Eddy Clearwater and pianist Lovie Lee, as well as forming the Sons of the Blues with today’s best Chicago harp player, Billy Branch!
Today, after many years of psychological problems and personal setbacks, Lurrie thankfully has amazingly turned his life around and has his head together to become today’s premier bluesman, more popular than ever, and multiple national blues music awards. Lurrie was not in a good place at the time of this recording (nor for years before and after this, either.) If you don’t know Lurrie, it is very difficult to describe on paper because of the emotional depth this real life blues story carries. He is the BLUES—he grew up with it, and it is still all around him, as he painfully declares in “Blues Is All Around Me, follows me everywhere I go, if I can’t find my way outta here, I sure don’t want to live no more.”
For many years, Lurrie struggled with mental demons and drug issues, which led to very erratic behavior, which obviously also drastically affected his playing. During these dark years, Lurrie would “get stuck” playing, or wasn’t able to play at all, and put on painful to watch performances more often than not. But when he was on, nobody could touch him. I have never seen other musicians’ heads snap to attention so fast when Lurrie was on. It was simply the definition of a jaw dropping performance. Mercurial Son reflects the state of mind Lurrie was in at this time; extremely dark, intense, disturbing, fascinating, and very different than anything I have ever heard. He was often on the edge of falling apart, but somehow pulled it together to end up with a thrilling result. And I must let you know that Lurrie may not even remember it (or want to.) I used to ask him to play some of the wild originals from this (like “Your Daddy Done Tripped the Trigger” and “Lurrie’s Hipshank”,) and he would look at me completely blankly, and then rip into another unique take on a Chicago Blues standard, or even better, a killer version of “Cleo’s Back!” Very influential on this recording were producers, world renowned blues scholars, Steve Cushing (Blues Before Sunrise blues radio host and vastly underrated drummer) and Scott Dirks (author of Little Walter bio among others, and fantastic harp player.) Steve Cushing wrote many of these wildly haunting and menacing originals and provided the “complex, yet primal sounding rhythms,” on drums providing somewhat of an African, Bo Diddley beat along with the late Chicago bass legend, Willie Black, and with Lurrie’s intertwining lead and rhythm dark deep funk blues guitar.
This is from the original liners from well respected local writer/blues historian/bassist, Justin O’Brien “The music of Mercurial Son is stream of Lurrie’s consciousness. It is wild. It is rudimentary in its primordial groove. It is celebratory. It is dark and portentous. It is brilliant. It is playful and even hilarious. It can be nearly incoherent and it can be raunchy. And it can also be lucid and beautiful. It’s frightening and it’s thrilling. It’s strange and it’s wonderful.” I agree!
—KEVIN JOHNSON PROUD PAPA PROMOTIONS & PUBLICITY
Latest Blues Guitar Lesson with Johnny Burgin Learn Blues with Chicago Blues Masters
Guitar Slim Lesson by Johnny Burgin
“Here’s a look at one of the most-played blues tunes of all, “The Things I Used to Do”, in F with a capo. [In this video,] I talk about the bass line, the rhythm, and the melody of the solo so you can get your own version of this classic going. There are many other great versions from Buddy Guy, Pee Wee Crayton, Ike Turner, Lightnin’ Hopkins, etc, but I find a lot of value in really studying the original first.” – Johnny Burgin
Ready to Learn More?
Sign up for “At Home Chicago Blues” Lessons with Johnny Burgin or 5 other Chicago Blues Masters to learn Blues guitar, bass and/or piano. For $23.95/month you will have access to 40+ video lessons and weekly LIVE Zoom meetings with the Instructor and fellow students.
In the Mix… Chicago Blues Network Faculty Featured Around Town and Around the Nation
Joanna Connor was featured in this article on Chicago Blues venue Kingston Mines in TheDaily Northwestern: Read it here.
“A lot of people like the atmosphere, and that it is loose,” Connor said. “There is so much music, and it’s open late. I also think there is a realness people gravitate toward.”
Johnny Burgin was featured on the cover of Big City Rhythm & Blues magazine, with a great group photo at the Ground Zero Blues Club in Clarksdale, MS!
Harlan Terson in Lil’ Ed Williams Blues Jam with The Rosa’s House Band recently on 6/17/21. Featuring: Lil’ Ed Williams – guitar & vocals; Harlan Terson – Bass; Thaddeus Krolicki – guitar; Kelly Littleton – drums; Ariyo – piano. To tip the band, go to: PayPal.me/LilEdWilliams. To tip the venue, go to: PayPal.me/rosaslounge. Watch the video below:
Lil’ Ed Featuring Harlan Terson (Bass) Recorded live at Chicago venue Rosa’s Lounge
Take lessons from home for just $23.95/month with these Chicago Blues Masters: Joanna Connor, Johnny Burgin, Harlan Terson, Dave Specter and Brother John Kattke.
“Blues from the Inside Out” Podcast Dave Specter Interviews Bobby Rush
From the archives…Recorded backstage at the 2019 Chicago Blues Festival, Grammy winner and legendary bluesman Bobby Rush shares stories from his incredible career. Host Dave Specter is Chicago Blues Network’s Musical Director and Guitar Instructor. Study with Dave Specter here.
Blues from the Inside Out is a 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. Every episode is a warm, relaxed and engaging conversation between two artists, packed with insights into each guest’s music, life and influences. Listeners get a chance to eavesdrop on this intimate chat that weaves in blues and roots history, tales of legendary performances and collaborations, and the kinds of personal anecdotes that make you smile, laugh out loud or maybe even cry.
Hear Bobby Rush play in this video below:
Bobby Rush’s Classic Blues: Acoustic Guitar Sessions
Watch Dave Specter in this Chicago Blues Network Trading 4s Concert:
Chicago Blues Network Trading 4s – Featuring Dave Specter, Joanna Connor, John Primer, Harlan Terson
Make this Summer a Musical One Support live music!