“The musicians that didn’t know music could play the best blues. I know that I don’t want no musicians who know all about music playin’ for me.” – Alberta Hunter
September 28, 2022 Volume 3, Issue 20
Artist Feature: JOHN PRIMER John Primer Headlining Festival in Oxford, MS, and Celebrating Release of New Album Hard Times
John Primer was one of the special guests at the most recent Chicago Blues Bootcamp, sharing his stories and music with attendees. Here’s the news on his latest album:
These 13 hardcore, traditional, real deal Chicago Blues songs come straight from the heart and reflect John Primer’s 2 time Grammy Nominated status. This Hard Times CD was made to get us through these hard times we are living in today. It will heal you from beginning to end and will take you to a better place. – JohnPrimerBlues.com
You can watch exclusive performances by John Primer, and more Chicago Blues Masters, in this episode of Chicago Blues Network Trading 4s Concerts. These intimate concerts, filmed during the lockdown, offer a chance to see Chicago Blues Masters up close and listen to every note. Enjoy!
Jimmy Johnson, John Primer, Billy Branch, Dave Specter, John Kattke: Chicago Blues Network Trading 4s Livestream 07/02/20
Early next month, Chicago’s Grammy-nominated John Primer will be headlining the The 11th Annual Oxford Blues Festival which runs October 6th-8th in Oxford, MS. Additional headliners include R.L. Boyce, a Grammy-nominated artist in the Hillcountry Blues style, plus Bill “Howlin Madd” Perry. Read more about the festival in this article here. Congratulations John Primer!
Having just seen Joe Barr perform with Joe Pratt and SourceOne Band at the 2nd Annual Blues Festival at Fitzgerald’s, I am reminded of his powerhouse vocal artistry. Here is Joe Barr’s bio below. He is a must-see and must-hear entertainer. Catch him with Joe Pratt at Odyssey East on weekends.
I DISCOVERED THAT I HAD MUSICAL TALENT AT AGE 12. I USED TO LOOK AT THE PIANO IN CHURCH ON SUNDAYS AND IMAGINE MYSELF PLAYING TO THE CONGREGATION. SO, WHEN I COMPLETED MY WORK OF CLEANING THE CHURCH ON SATURDAYS, I WOULD PLAY AROUND ON THE PIANO UNTIL I LEARNED TO PLAY, ALMOST TO MY SATISFACTION. ONE DAY WHEN THE PASTOR RETURNED TO LOCK UP THE CHURCH, HE WAS PLEASANTLY SURPRISED THAT I COULD PLAY. ACTUALLY, I INHERITED THE CURRENT MUSICIAN’S POSITION AT THAT TIME, BECAUSE HE WAS ALWAYS NOT SHOWING UP OR WAS LATE.
I KNEW I COULD SING BEFORE I LEARNED TO PLAY THE PIANO; SINGING CAME AS NATURAL AS BREATHING. IN FACT, MY WHOLE FAMILY CAN SING. MY YOUNGEST SISTER AND I APPEARED IN MANY TALENT SHOWS IN OUR COMMUNITY. I ALSO WAS A LONG TIME PARTICIPANT IN CHICAGO’S NYC PROGRAM, A CHICAGO CITY FUNDED PROGRAM FOR YOUTH THAT ALLOWED THEM TO DISPLAY THEIR TALENTS THROUGHOUT THE CITY.
ON MY WAY
WHEN I WAS TOO YOUNG TO GO IN LOUNGES, I WOULD SNEAK IN WALTON’S CORNER, WHICH AT THE TIME WAS ONE OF THE HOTTEST AND WELL KNOWN NIGHT CLUBS IN CHICAGO’S AFRICAN AMERICAN COMMUNITIES. THE OWNERS KNEW ME BECAUSE I LIVED IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD. ONCE THEY LEARNED I COULD SING, THEY ALLOWED ME TO COME IN THE CLUB, BUT MADE ME SIT OVER IN A DARK CORNER UNTIL I WAS CALLED UP TO SING.
I AM FROM THE SAME ERA AND NEIGHBORHOOD OF THE GUITARIST AND VOCALIST VANCE KELLY. WE DID SOME THINGS TOGETHER WHEN WE WERE YOUNG .IT WAS DURING THIS TIME, AT AGE 18, I HAD MY FIRST BRAKE WITH SECURING A CHANCE TO BELONG TO A BAND. A FORMER OWNER OF WALTON’S CORNER, PERVIS SCOTT, WHO ALSO WAS A BASS PLAYER ASK ME TO JOIN HIS BAND, THE OASIS. AT THE TIME THE OASIS BAND WAS HOT. THIS WAS THE FIRST BAND I HAD ANY LONGEVITY WITH; ACTUALLY, IT WAS MY FIRST EXPERIENCE OF BELONGING TO ANY GROUP. IT WAS A GREAT EXPERIENCE. WE PLAYED TOGETHER FOR OVER FIVE YEARS. THE FIRST TWO YEARS WE PLAYED BEHIND A LOCAL ARTIST, LEE SHOT WILLIAMS. AT THE TIME, LEE HAD SOME HIT RECORDINGS AND WAS POPULAR. MY LAST THREE YEARS WITH THE BAND WAS SPENT PERFORMING GIGS IN LOCAL CLUBS, PLAYING MOSTLY R&B.
THROUGH PLAYING AT CLUBS SUCH AS JOHNNY PEPPERS, BOOTSIE’S, THE KEYMANS AND OTHER LOCAL CLUBS, WORD GOT AROUND TO RECORDING ARTISTS ABOUT MY EXPERIENCE ON THE KEYBOARD. I’VE BACKED HOWLING WOLF, LUTHER ALLLISON, ZZ HILL, FREDDY KING AND OTHER LEGENDS. AT THE TIME, SOME OF THESE STARS WERE KNOWN AS “CROSS OVERS”; WHICH MEANT THEIR TALENTS WERE ENJOYED BY A WIDER AUDIENCE. NATE TURNER, A LOCAL BLUES ICON FELL INTO THIS RANK OF “CROSS OVER” ENTERTAINERS. I WAS A PART OF NATE’S BAND FOR OVER 7 YEARS. PLAYING WITH NATE ALLOWED ME THE OPPORTUNITY OF TRAVELING THROUGHOUT THE STATES AND CANADA.
HERE AND NOW
AS MUCH AS I ENJOYED TRAVELING AND PLAYING WITH OTHERS, I EVENTUALLY REALIZED TWO THINGS: I HAD FAMILY OBLIGATIONS, AND I NEEDED TO PUT DOWN ROOTS, SO THAT I COULD DEVELOP MY OWN MUSICAL CAREER. IT WAS AROUND THIS TIME THAT THREE OTHER MUSICIANS AND I FORMED WHAT IS KNOWN NOW AS, “THE SOUL PURPOSE BAND”. NOT TOO LONG AFTER FORMING THE BAND, WE BECAME PRIMARILY, KOKO TAYLOR’S HOUSE BAND AT HER BLUES CLUB ON WABASH AVENUE. COOKIE TAYLOR, KOKO ‘S DAUGHTER, BECAME MY BOOKING AGENT. WHEN WE WERE NOT PLAYING AT THE CLUB, SHE BOOKED US AT OTHER CLUBS.
JOE BARR AND THE SOUL PURPOSE BAND HAS PERFORMED AT FAMOUS DAVE’S, KINGSTON MINES, ARTIST’S, CRAW DADDY’S CLUB (WHEELING), BUDDY GUY’S, THE HARLEM’S BAR (LA GRANGE) AND AT NUMEROUS OUT DOOR CONCERTS IN THE CHICAGO METROPOLITAN AREA. OUR BAND IS ALSO ONE OF THE BANDS USED FOR FUNDRAISERS TO BENEFIT KOKO TAYLOR’S CELEBRITY AID FOUNDATION.
WHAT’S GOING ON
WHEN THE CLUB CLOSED, COOKIE CONTINUED TO BE MY BOOKING AGENT. CURRENTLY, I AM BOOKED AT THE TRUMP/MAJESTIC CASINOS IN KOKO TAYLOR’S BLUES CAFÉ, PERFORMING AS A SOLOIST. JOE BARR AND THE SOUL PURPOSE BAND HOLD THREE STEADY GIGS PERFORMING WEEKLY AT ARTIS’ LOUNGE IN CHICAGO, AT LARRY’S LOUNGE, IN HARVEY. YOU CAN ALSO CATCH US AT BLUES ON HALSTED IN CHICAGO, TWICE A MONTH ONE ONLY HAS TO HEAR ME PERFORM TO RECOGNIZE WHO MY INFLUENCES ARE. JOHNNY TAYLOR, TEDDY PENDERGRASS, TYRONE DAVIS AND ALBERT KING ARE JUST A FEW TO MENTION.
ALTHOUGH I DO WELL COVERING SONGS OF OTHERS, I HAVE A COUPLE OF PROJECTS OF MY OWN IN PROGRESS. LOOK FOR MY NEW CD RELEASE. ENTITLED “WAITING FOR LOVE,” LATE FALL OR EARLY WINTER. IT WILL INCLUDE SEVEN (7) ORIGINAL CUTS AND SEVERAL STANDARDS. I CAN HARDLY WAIT FOR THE FINISHED PRODUCT IT ‘S GOING TO BE “HOT.” ALSO, I HAVE APPEARED IN TWO LIVE STAGE PRODUCTIONS: ONE PRODUCTION IS ENTITLED, “BACK IN THE DAY WHEN MUSIC WAS MUSIC” THIS PRODUCTION IS ABOUT ALLOWING ENTERTAINERS TO COVER “FAVORITES” WHICH WERE POPULAR IN THE 60S AND 70S. THE OTHER PRODUCTION IS STAGED IN A BAR PORTRAYING MALES WHO ARE SWAMPING ADVICE ON HOW TO KEEP RELATIONSHIPS WITH THEIR FEMALE PARTNERS. THE NAME OF THIS PRODUCTION IS ENTITLED “FOR LADIES ONLY BUT MEN ARE WELCOME” THEATER IS A NEW AND EXCITING CONCEPT FOR ME; I PLAN TO INCLUDE MORE STAGE APPEARANCES IN MY FUTURE REPERTOIRE.
ON A PERSONAL NOTE
FAMILY INSTITUTIONS ARE IMPORTANT TO ME. THIS INCLUDES BOTH MY BIOLOGICAL FAMILY AND MY CHURCH FAMILY. I AM LOYAL TO BOTH, AS BOTH ARE THE ROCKS FOR MY FOUNDATION. IT IS FROM THIS FOUNDATION THAT I LEARNED TO CARE AND RESPECT OTHERS.
ASIDE FROM MY MUSICAL CAREER, I AM AN ENTREPRENEUR. I DELIVER FOOD TO SOCIAL SERVICE AGENCIES SUCH AS SHELTERS AND SOUP KITCHENS. THERE’S LITTLE MONETARY REWARD INVOLVED, HOWEVER, I FEEL HONORED TO BE ABLE TO CONTRIBUTE IN SOME SMALL WAY.
MY BAND THE SOUL PURPOSE BAND RECEIVED FROM THE AFRICAN AMERICAN ARTS ALLIANCE THE OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT AWARD IN MUSIC FOR BLUES 2005- 2006.
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.
Blues from the Inside Out Podcast Hosted by Chicago Blues Master Dave Specter Featuring: BILLY BRANCH
From the archives…Chicago bluesman Billy Branch shares stories of his fascinating career from his early days with Willie Dixon, nights at Theresa’s Lounge with Junior Wells and tells us what he considers to be the greatest blues festival that ever happened in Chicago.
Hosted by Chicago Blues Master Dave Specter, Blues from the Inside Out is a podcast featuring top names in blues, soul, jazz and roots music with a unique, artist-to-artist interview perspective along with live studio performances. 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.
You can also see Dave Specter and Billy Branch perform “The Ballad of George Floyd” in the video below.
Dave Specter and Billy Branch: The Ballad of George Floyd
Dave Specter’s handwritten lyrics for this song were featured in an exhibit, exploring the connection between music and social consciousness; Songs of Conscience, Sounds of Freedom also featured videos discussing songs “Get Up, Stand Up” by Bob Marley, Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit” and Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind.”
FREE Lesson Video Chicago Blues Master Johnny Burgin Teaches Elmore James’s “Cry for Me”
“Eddie has one of the greatest opening licks ever— it just demands your attention.”
– Johnny Burgin, Chicago Blues Network Guitar Instructor
Elmore James “Cry For Me Baby” Lesson
“Now I wish I had one dollar For all the times I’ve cried for you” – Elmore James, “Cry for Me Baby”
“This lesson looks at the twin guitar parts of Eddie Taylor and Syl Johnson on Elmore James’s 1957 classic “Cry for Me Baby.” Eddie has one of the greatest opening licks ever—it just demands your attention. Then he sustains the tense flavor along with Syl’s minor chords throughout the verses. They change places in a seamless way for Syl to play practically the same solo he played on Billy Boy Arnold’s “Prisoner’s Plea.” Eddie’s boogie pattern underneath Syl’s solo shows why he was such an in-demand session player. Electric Chicago blues doesn’t get better than this hypnotic tune— have fun playing it!” – Johnny Burgin
“Mud Morganfield is the eldest son of Muddy Waters. In this song Mud tells us everything about his blues life…Multi-award-winning artist Mud Morganfield is an established star in the world of Blues music. Mud’s singing is firmly in the best tradition of Chicago Blues, but he is also a writer of great new songs and he is backed by some of the best musicians playing today. He is acclaimed by artists and critics, including Buddy Guy and Jools Holland for his own musical ability.” – DelmarkRecords.com
Featured LIVE Video from Chicago Blues Network Instructors… Joanna Connor: When the Levee Breaks (Live in Dallas)
Our Chicago Blues Network Instructors are pros who tour the nation and world, bringing Chicago Blues to new audiences. Be part of their journey with a featured video from their LIVE sets on tour. Here’s Chicago Blues Master Joanna Connor, performing “When the Levee Breaks” at the Dallas International Guitar Festival last year. Learn more about Joanna Connor’s music here.
Joanna Connor – When The Levee Breaks – 4/30/21 Dallas International Guitar Festival