“When I’m singing the blues, I’m singing life.” – Etta James
February 16, 2022 Volume 3, Issue 4
Make Music with Chicago Blues Masters At Chicago Blues Bootcamp May 29 – June 3, 2022, Play and Sing Blues with Top Artists Including:
Vocalist, Songwriter, Actress, Recording Artist, and Blues-In-The-Schools Educator
“Katherine’s passion for singing was influenced at an early age due to her family’s musical background, which included an array of musical genres; typical for what ended-up being settled into Chicago prior to the 50’s. Diversity for culture, music; understanding the depth of history inherent with the blues, depicting freedom from slavery; coupled with the narrative woven deeply within struggling musicians during a tumultuous era; became the threshold of influences for Katherine’s unbridled interest to teach…” – bluessingerkatherinedavis.com
Watch Katherine Davis perform at this Chicago Blues Network Trading 4s Concert:
Katherine Davis at Chicago Blues Network Trading 4s Concert
“As heir apparent to the Chicago blues harmonica throne, Billy Branch is perfectly suited to shine a bright new light on the timeless music of Little Walter Jacobs, a transcendent artist revered by millions and an inspiration to every harmonica player who followed in his wake. Roots And Branches – The Songs Of Little Walterfeatures 15 songs written by or made famous by the harp genius, each one brought to new life by Branch and The Sons of Blues as they blend elements of soul, funk and gospel into the proceedings while remaining true to the integrity of the originals.” –BillyBranch.com
“A potent blend of rootsy, integrity and exploratory zeal” – Living Blues
Watch Billy Branch perform at this Chicago Blues Network Trading 4s Concert:
Billy Branch at Chicago Blues Network Trading 4s Concert
“Deitra Farr is considered one of Chicago’s top vocalists, according to Living Blues Magazine (May 1997). Fiery, energetic, and soul-stirring describes this woman, who has over the years been nominated for Traditional Female Blues artist of the year by the W.C. Handy Awards, Female Blues Artist of the year by the Living Blues Critics Awards, the British Blues Connection Awards, and the Les Trophees France Blues awards…
On October 4, 2015 Deitra was inducted into the Chicago Blues Hall of Fame as a “Legendary Blues Artist.” On December 9, 2016 the National Southern Soul Foundation gave Deitra “The Most Popular Blues Artist Award.” Deitra is the recipient of the 2017 Jus Blues Music Foundation’s “Koko Taylor Queen of the Blues Award.” – DeitraFarr.com
Chicago Blues Bootcamp 2022 is a 5-day immersive Blues learning experience May 29th – June 3rd in downtown Chicago. These Instructors will be joined by more Chicago Blues Masters including Dave Specter, Billy Flynn, Joanna Connor, Johnny Burgin, Harlan Terson and Brother John Kattke. Reserve your spot, and spread the word to Guitar, Bass, Keys, and Harp Players–and Vocalists too!
No Border Blues Hosts Johnny Burgin and Stephanie Tice Interview Blues Musicians from Around the World In This Episode: Meet Ronni Boysen of Denmark
Sponsored by Chicago Blues Network
Ronnie Boysen, Blues Guitar from Denmark: No Border Blues 22
Ronni Boysen of Denmark is well known as one of the best European blues guitarists. Check out his eclectic and sophisticated approach in the musical clips he provided for this interview— we think you’ll agree that Ronni’s playing is truly special. He discovered the blues at his high school library, stumbling onto a copy of Muddy Waters’s Hard Again. It all came full circle as he’s been backing one of Muddy Waters’s sons, Mud Morganfield, all over Europe since 2009. Strictly a sideman, one of Ronni’s specialties is to back harmonica players; he’s worked extensively with great harpmen including Lazy Lester, James Harmon, RJ Mischo, Paul Orta, West Weston, Bob Corritore and Peter Nande. Since 2012, he’s played with SE’s The Kokomo Kings, a purist rock ‘n’ roll outfit with a cult following on Rhythm Bomb Records— they were nominated for an Ameripolitan Award in 2018. During the pandemic Ronni formed an “exotica” band, Los Palmeras, which explores burlesque, Cuban R&B, and vintage instrumental styles. They’ll have a recording out in the Fall of 2022. – No Border Blues
Take a blues journey with No Border Blues, the only blues podcast focused on international blues artists and hidden blues scenes around the world. Delmark recording artist Johnny Burgin and producer Stephanie Tice shine a spotlight on notable international blues performers, discuss the blues scenes in their home countries, and present intimate and exclusive musical performances. Sponsored by Chicago Blues Network, bringing Chicago Blues to the world.
I was honored to provide the cover photo and design for WIN NOLL & THE ROCKIN’ SOUL’S self-titled new ep. The following is excerpted from a current BIG CITY RHYTHM & BLUES magazine article on Win by radio dj, label owner, promoter, publicist and all-round blues activist LYNN ORMAN WEISS.
WIN NOLL AND THE ROCKIN’ SOULS
DELIVER A WHOLE LOTTA LOVE
From Opera to the Blues
“Blues Rock chose me. I was meant to cover these songs and reinterpret them,” says Win Noll of the songs covered on her debut recording, Win Noll & the Rockin’ Souls.
Win and her band’s five track EP rallies the rock gods. One original was written as an homage to her sister that nurtured her through a tough time, “Drinkin’ Buddy,” and four more (inspired by Shero’s). Included also are Etta James’s signature song “I’d Rather Go Blind,” Janis Joplin’s powerful cover “Piece of My Heart,” Win’s slaying of Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love,” and Bo Diddley’s masterpiece “Who Do You Love.” All songs were recorded with her band The Rockin’ Souls at Chicago’s premiere blues recording studio, JoyRide. The band includes the legendary Eddy Clearwater’s drummer, Stephen Bass (nephew of famed Chess producer Ralph Bass who co-produced the CD), and guitar and bass player Shoji Naito (co-producer).
“Welcome to the Blues, Win,” are the last words she remembers Eddy Clearwater saying when guesting at his last on-stage performance at Buddy Guy’s Legends. “When he said that to me, it opened my eyes to the Blues. It was my master class,” said Win. “It was nirvana. The Chief gave me courage.”
Expanding on Eddy’s importance to her and her bandmates, she continues: “When Eddy passed, Stephen and Shoji were devastated at the loss of their longtime friend and band leader. But I’m so grateful to have them in The Rockin’ Souls.” The first time Win recorded in a studio was on Shoji Naito’s album Westmont to Chicago – A Tribute To Eddy Clearwater. The song “Find Yourself”, written by Eddy, fused 50s rock ‘n’ roll with old-school Chicago Blues—a perfect match for Win’s vocals.
Win’s freshman single was recorded in the middle of the pandemic. “Drinkin’ Buddy” had a test run in a Nashville studio when she recorded it with a country guitarist who had more grits than barbecue. “It’s a very emotional and personal song. Stephen and my band made it more bluesy and funky. This song is the Blues, it is an absolute part of my truth,” she said.
Win is classically trained in opera and in Broadway repertoire. It’s where her career was headed until she was derailed by divorce and raising two children as a single mom. “A few years into my divorce I really started singing the Blues. I started living the Blues. I had always listened to R&B and Blues while growing up in my grandmother’s home. So I guess it must have seeped in. I started going to Blues Jams, but it was difficult to get a performing slot.” Her band Buddha Blue (Stephen was the drummer) broke up so Win & Stephen put together an A-list of Chicago musicians: Shoji Naito, Minoru Maruyama, Wabi Ugucci, Mike Flynn and Stephen himself. Billy Branch and Linsey Alexander invited her to come up on stage and sing. Win was a guest on Linsey’s show at Buddy Guy’s Legends where booking manager, Marc Maddox, took notice and booked her.
Blues clubs are now her home and she doesn’t have to wait for a slot at Blues Jams whether at Buddy Guy’s Legends or Rosa’s Lounge or Johnny Blitz or Austin Community Tavern. She also is a guest on many of the veteran Blues star Mary Lane’s shows. Win said, “She validated me when she said, ‘I don’t know who that little girl is but she just sang the shit out of that song.’”
Win continues, “In October 2020 my daughters, Stephen and I flew to California to visit my father who was having serious health issues. Our family gathered for a few dinners and we played him the song, “Drinkin’ Buddy.” My father loved my Blues Rock voice. He had not heard me sing like that before. He validated my music. I didn’t even know that this voice lived inside me like this.”
Win’s father died two weeks later contracting Covid in the hospital. Win’s emotion poured through her words: “I had to say goodbye and come back to Chicago. If I ever knew that divine grace was working in my life it was in that moment. My last days with him were precious; my dad heard my music. It’s like the universe staged a final meeting.”
A year later the CD was released independently. Because of the pandemic the planned release parties have all been postponed, including the one at Buddy Guy’s Legends, which has been closed from breakthrough cases. The 5-song EP is now available on CD Baby and on all music platforms. The popular live performance of Win Noll and the Rockin’ Souls is available at www.rosaslounge.com and on YouTube.
“I want to see a global audience. I want to share our music everywhere. Our band and our music is universal,” said Win.
– Lynn Orman Weiss
Photo and cd cover design by Peter M. Hurley; photo taken at Rosa’s Lounge / 2021.
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.
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