“Where words fail, music speaks.”– Hans Christian Anderson
February 2, 2022 Volume 3, Issue 3
Jimmy Johnson Music Legend Brings Us Joy, Passes at 93 Years of Age
It is with heavy hearts that “the Blues” is all too real today–as we learned of the passing of Jimmy Johnson, an incredible person, musician and soul. Jimmy’s website eloquently puts into words what many of us are feeling:
Jimmy was Kind, Generous, Funny, Bright, Loving, Clever, and Exceptionally Talented. His Love and Knowledge will be impossible to replace but his Influence will continue to live on in the countless people he touched with his Intelligence and Grace.
May his Incredible Music and Cherished Memories help bring us comfort during this time of loss.
We Will Always Love You Jimmy Johnson, and there ain’t nothing you can do about it.
Pete’s Pics “Blues in Action” by Peter M. Hurley
IN MEMORIAM JIMMY JOHNSON
RIP JIMMY JOHNSON 1928-2022
For those who knew and loved Jimmy Johnson’s music and the man himself, this is but a taste of a remembrance. This is an excerpt from a piece written by yours truly for Living Blues Magazine’s BLUES NEWS column that showcased live streams that brilliant musicians were self-producing in lieu of live performances during many hard months of the pandemic. Master Jimmy Johnson’s was among the best. Listeners were treated to a glimpse of the man in his home studio every Saturday afternoon for months and months. What a gift, what a joy, what musicianship. Jimmy passed away on January 31st. May he Rest in Peace.
TAKIN’ IT TO THE STREAMS ll
While the pandemic shuttered the doors of blues clubs everywhere, four prominent Chicago bluesmen took up broadcasting from home to fill the gap: Jimmy Johnson, John Primer, Jimmy Burns and Ronnie Baker Brooks. Each established regularly scheduled weekly broadcasts from their respective domiciles which built consistent world-wide followings as they maintained their guitar and vocal chops.
JIMMY JOHNSON took his homespun Saturday afternoon stream to informal places by including an ongoing dialogue with wife Sherry who greets followers to the broadcast off-camera as Jimmy readies himself for his next number. It reminds one of the intimacies of an old tv talk show or radio broadcast where a sidekick would share witticisms and news updates. “Here’s Jennifer Noble checking in from London, Jimmy. Hi, Jennifer” enthuses Sherry. “I miss the audience but I give it everything I’ve got on my Saturday stream (2pm CST)” says the man. “When the pandemic hit, everything stood still. But I still want to play.”
And play he does. Jimmy plies his trade with brilliant signature interplay between voice and guitar or piano. “I simply spin my chair between my stringed instruments and my keyboard, so I don’t have far to go,” laughs the blues great. “This was my old shop where I made things. My father was a carpenter and I was a welder for ten years. I grew up making everything from cabinets to electronic equipment. It makes a natural spot for me to broadcast from.”
The forum is a perfect chance for Johnson to mix music with the wisdom of his 92 years. He includes philosophical tidbits that often become the substance of his songwriting. His most recent cd titled “Every Day Of Your Life” expresses such an example: “Live every day of your life like it’s your last, because one day you will be right.”…..
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.
Dave Specter Featured in Vintage Guitar Chicago Blues Network Guitar Instructor Shares Chicago Blues in NEW INTERVIEW
Specter recently released Six String Soul: 30 Years on Delmark, a career milestone. The release features guest artists including Jimmy Johnson and more. To order the 2-CD Digi-Pak, click here.
In addition to being a Delmark recording artist, Dave is a Chicago Blues Master and Guitar Instructor with Chicago Blues Network, and Host of the “Blues From the Inside Out” podcast.
Read more articles about Dave in Vintage Guitar: HERE.
Get Tips for Your Guitar Playing
You can learn from Chicago Blues Masters including Dave Specter, plus Billy Flynn, Harlan Terson (Bass), Brother John Kattke, Joanna Connor and Johnny Burgin with “At Home Chicago Blues” lessons. You will have access to 40+ video lessons and weekly LIVE Zoom meetings with your instructor and fellow students for $23.95/month.
Specter and a great selection of Chicago Blues Masters perform for you at this Chicago Blues Network Trading 4s Concert in the video below. Be part of the legacy and learn the blues!
Jimmy Johnson, Dave Specter, Johnny Burgin & Friends at Chicago Blues Network Trading 4s Concert 2020
Johnny Burgin: FREE Video Lesson “Smoking Leads and Cliffhanger Intros…” Magic Sam Part II: Look Whatcha Done
Grab your guitar and get started with Chicago Blues with video lessons from Chicago Blues Masters. Dig into the music of Magic Sam, with Chicago Blues Network Guitar Instructor and Delmark recording artist Johnny Burgin:
Johnny Burgin Teaches Magic Sam Part II: “Look Whatcha Done”
“Hope you guys and gals dig this companion lesson to my “All Your Love Magic Sam Part I lesson”…This time we’re looking at two uptempo classics on Cobra Records, “Look Whatcha Done” and “All My Whole Life.” They both have smokin’ lead, and cliffhanger intros…” – Johnny Burgin
Sam Lay: In Memoriam Legendary Drummer Lit Up the Room
Sadly, last month, we also learned that Sam Lay, the legendary drummer who lit up rooms and worked with Chicago Blues giants including Little Walter, Howlin’ Wolf and Paul Butterfield, passed away at the age of 86. His larger-than-life stage presence often included a cape, cane or other indication that this was no ordinary musician–he played drums behind Bob Dylan at the historic Newport Folk Festival in 1965 when Dylan “went electric” and was part of that era of radical change; he was the regular drummer with Muddy Waters and performed on the famous album Fathers and Sons. He also performed with Blues artists including Junior Wells, John Lee Hooker, Magic Sam, Bo Diddley, Eddie Taylor and Willie Dixon.
Inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame, as well as the Jazz Hall of Fame and Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame (how many artists can claim that!?), Sam Lay was also a guitarist and singer.
You can see him performing at Chicago Blues Fest alongside Billy Branch and more in the video below:
Sam Lay Blues Band at the 2011 Chicago Blues Festival
“This CD marks the first time on record Sam has accompanied himself on solo guitar.” – Random Chance Records Learn about the album here.
About the Album: From the Delmark Records website:
“From the funky opening original “Every Day Of Your Life,” constructed around a wise lyrical message, to a churning “Down In The Valley” and exquisitely tailored revivals of the lights-out slow blues “Strange Things Happening” and a hard- driving “I Need You So Bad,” Jimmy is never less than masterful. Few contemporary bluesmen are so devastating when working in a minor key— witness Johnson’s personalized treatment of Fenton Robinson’s classic “Somebody Loan Me A Dime.” “My Ring,” another standout original, takes a swaying and unexpected reggae turn…and Johnson sits down behind the 88s for a solo reprise of Bobby “Blue” Bland’s uplifting “Lead Me On” to close the album in deeply moving style.