Blues & Jazz
A Rainbow of Sound
LITTLE MACK COLLINS AND HIS RYTHM MASTERS – have worked behind almost every blues player in Detroit over the years and will provide backup lor the entire Detroit Blues Show.
LITTLE JUNIOR (Cannady), – currently recording on Bobo Jenkins’ Big Star label.
ARTHUR GUNTER, author of the Elvis smash, “Baby Let’s Play House,” who now lives in Port Huron, Michigan, and who recently hit the Michigan State Lottery for a big $50,000.
BABY BOY WARREN, a rhythmic country guitarist only recently returned to his music after long bout with sickness and family poverty – best known for “Baby Boy Blues” and “Sanafee.”
JOHNNY MAE MATTHEWS, one of the rare women blues till active around Motown, and a distinct credit to the tradition she continues to uphold.
JAKE “THE SHAKER” WOODS, a one-of-a-kind performer well-known on the streets of Saginaw.
ONE-STRING SAM, immortalized by an impromptu recording session made 20 years ago to raise money to get his woman out of jail (“I Need $100 To Go My Baby’s Bond”), plays a fretless, one-string, monochord instrument he made himself at home.
EDDIE BURNS, who has recorded successful singles on various labels and has played harmonica and guitar regularly with John Lee Hooker.
BOBO JENKINS, originally from Mississippi and now a central figure in the current DETROIT BLUES scene by virtue of his Big Star recording studio and record label on the city’s west side.
MR. BO, unashamedly playing in the style of B.B. King, until recently under a stranglehold contract to the notorious Diamond Jim (who was murdered in a Motor City bar).
BOOGIE WOOGIE RED, who played piano on nearly all of John Lee Hooker’s early recordings, was a regular member of the Hooker band in the 50’s and remains an active participant in the modern-day scene.
LIGHTNIN’ SLIM, one of the best-known DETROIT BLUES artists overseas, originally from Louisiana and now living in Pontiac, Michigan, an industrial center located halfway between Detroit and Flint.
WASHBOARD WILLIE, the grandaddy and master percussionist (washboard, sock-cymbal, cowbell, tambourine, etc.) of the DETROIT BLUES scene, performing as ever with his Super-Suds of Rhythm.
EDDIE KIRKLAND, one of the most exciting of all Detroit Blues performers, now lives principally in and came up especially to rejoin his old cohorts in the Detroit Blues Show.
THE RAY CHARLES SHOW ‘73 with the Raelettes – Ray Charles is the man most responsible for blending exciting blues, r and b, jazz and gospel styles into a new and unique breed of music that was later dubbed Soul. “I want people to feel my soul . . . Soul is when you can take a song and make it part of you – a part that’s so true, so real, people think it must have happened to you. It’s like electricity, like a spirit, a drive, a power.” Charles is a legend in his own time – his virtuosity at all kinds of music, composition, a multitude of instruments which he taught himself to play and his incredible spirit-drive-power have touched the souls of audiences the world over. Charles was born on September 23, 1930, in Albany, Georgia. By the time he was six physical darkness, now known to have been glaucoma, was slowly but irreparably closing his eyesight forever. Poverty and racism combined to render medical assistance an impossibility. Attending a school for the blind in Florida, Charles left at fifteen to join a dance hand in Jacksonville. He worked his way through gaps in New York and Seattle (where he had the first black TV show in the Northwest) until signing with Atlantic records in 1954. By this time Charles had formed his own group of seven: together they recorded his first hit, “I Got a Woman,” and from there the legend grew. Charles has recorded over 60 albums. He now lives in Los Angeles with his wife and sons, helping manage the affairs of his own record company, Tangerine.
CHARLES MINGUS was born in Nogales, Arizona on April 22, 1923, but grew up in Watts, California. Mingus first gained musical training while singing in a southern revivalist church, where worshippers “went into trances and the response was wild and uninhibited.” He spent the 40’s playing in big bands and small groups (including stints with Duke Ellington, Red Narvo, and Charlie Parker) until 1953 when he formed his own assemblage, the Jazz Workshop. The year before Mingus, the first black musician to attempt command of every aspect of his music, including the financial/business, started his own record company, “Debut”. Mingus is known as a premier bass player, pianist, composer and arranger of big-band free black music. His autobiography, Beneath The Underdog, is as explosive as his music, available on Impulse and more recently Columbia records.
JIMMY REED – was born in 1926 in Leland, Mississippi. Moving north to Gary, Indiana, he began practicing harp and guitar when not working full shift at an iron foundry. After three years on the Chicago club circuit, Jimmy joined the new Vee Jay label. In time, he became Vee-Jay’s biggest hit-maker with tunes like “Big Boss Man,” “Hush-Hush,” “Baby What You Want Me To Do”, “Ain’t That Loving You Baby” and “Honest I Do,” to name just a few. Reed’s lonesome “boogie-in-the-dark” rhythms (an early Jimmy Reed title on Vee Jay) have made their mark on contemporary popular music, but the man himself has never received the popularity he deserves.
BIG WALTER HORTON – was born in Mississippi in 1918. but considers himself a Memphis native. By the time he was twelve he was hanging around Memphis blues people and traveling around the South. Eventually heading north to Chicago, Walter hooked up with guitarist Eddie Taylor (on the Festival bill with Mighty Joe Young) and the two joined Muddy Water’s band in 1953. Lately many of his gigs have featured fellow harpist Chicago Carey Bell, whom Walter practically raised. His most recent album was released on Alligator Records.
THE JOHNNY OTIS SHOW – Johnny Otis was the the first white musician to make a dent in the 1940’s world of rhythm & blues, or as it was known then, “race music.” He formed his first band in 1945 and recorded his first national hit, “Harlem Nocturne” the next year. In the years that followed, Otis became known as the top r and b talent finder on the west coast, turning up people such as Etta James, Esther Phillips, Big Mama Thornton, Little Willie John, Jackie Wilson and Hank Ballard. He hosted the first rock and roll radio show on the West Coast, which eventually landed him the first rock and roll television show as well in the mid-to-late fifties. His songwriting credits include such r & b standards as “So Fine,” “Work with me Annie” (banned on the radio for alleged obscenity) and the classic “Willie and the Hand Jive.” Johnny now travels with the Johnny Otis Show, a collection of some of the finest r & b musicians ever gathered into one act: Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson (sax), the Mighty Flea (trombone), Big Joe Turner (vocals), PeeWee Crayton (guitar & vocals), Marie Adams and the Three Tons of Joy, Delmar “Mighty Mouth” Evans, and the Otisettes stand back and give them room to work!
ORNETTE COLEMAN – was one of the premier musicians to develop the new black music in the late 1950’s and proclaim to the world through his album titles that it was “The Shape of Jazz to Come” and “Something Else” – “This Is Our Music.” Ornette tearing saxophone “is the human voice transcending the limitations of language; its cry is one of cosmic anguish.” Coleman’s freedom music is as relevant today as it was in 1959, when he first challenged the sterility of hardbop and the emotional emasculation of West Coast Cool, taking music beyond the artificial boundaries of standard, accepted chording and harmony. Born in Fort Worth, Texas, in 1930, Ornette spent his formative years in Southwestern-styled r & b groups, under the influence of such great blowers as King Curtis, Louis Jordan and Red Conners. Still an innovator, Coleman was recently voted “Jazz Man of the Year” by Downbeat magazine for “Skies of America,” a compositional work including his quartet along with the London Symphony Orchestra, released as an LP by Columbia Records.
VICTORIA SPIVEY – is a living legend of the blues. Bom in Houston, Texas, she spent the early 20’s playing the Galveston and Houston wards with Blind Lemon Jefferson and Sippie Wallace. She recorded a series of hit records during the 20’s and 30’s many of which have survived as perennial blues standards, recorded by the likes of Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Leadbelly, B.B. King, Lightnin’ Hopkins, John Lee Hooker and others. Victoria began her own record company, Spivey Records, by releasing fine traditional blues LPS, including some early Bob Dylan tracks.
JOE WILLIE WILKINS AND HIS KING BISCUIT BOYS FEATURING HOUSTON STACKHOUSE – Joe Willie Wilkins and Houston Stackhouse play warm, mellow country delta blues, direct from Memphis, Tennessee, where they both live. Both worked in the original King Biscuit Boys alongside harmonica legend Sonny Boy Williamson. Stackhouse, 63 years old, started out with an early Mississippi blues band; his recording career dates back to 30’s guitar work with Robert Johnson and other blues greats of the times. Fifty-year-old Joe Willie Wilkins, backed up by Little Walter and Roosevelt Sykes, greatly influenced B.B. King’s guitar work in his time. The band deserves a lot more than quick juke joint gigs and rare concerts, about all they get to play nowadays.
INFINITE SOUND – is Glenn Howell (Contrabass, Voice and Percussion) and Roland Young (B-flat and Bass Clarinets, Soprano Saxophone. Voice and Percussion). Glenn and Roland first began to develop their musical relationship while working on the air at San Francisco radio stations KSAN and KMPX. Together they now produce a weekly twelve-hour radio program on KPFA (Berkeley) known as Oneness. Infinite Sound, contemporary free black music “to create a texture, a feeling, a possibility of what this Universe could/should be, and to destroy that which prevents the affirmation of life, love and comradely unity of our sisters and brothers.” (Roland Young will also serve as the Festival M.C. throughout the three days.)
LUTHER ALLISON – came to Chicago from Forrest City, Arkansas in 1951, and right away started “hanging around the neighborhood bars listening to Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters.” Allison was leading Freddie King’s old band when he was only 19, and jamming all over town with Magic Sam and Mighty Joe Young. Long one of the mainstays of the Chicago blues scene, Allison first gained national attention at the first Ann Arbor Blues Festival in 1969, and has been scheduled to close out this year’s Festival due to the overwhelming response he generated at last year’s event. Luther’s guitar work can be heard on the Chicago-based Delmark label, with his most recent record, “Bad News Is Coming,” out on Motown.
SUN RA AND HIS ARKESTRA – Sun Ra has been a major force in extending the frontiers of contemporary creative music for over twenty years. Born in the South on an unspecified date actually, Ra contends he was never born – the former Sonny Blount worked with many bands coming up in Chicago as a pianist – and sometime arranger before he created his own Arkestra in the early fifties to play the music he could hear only in his head. Organized round a nucleus of some of the most dedicated musicians on the planet saxophonists John Gilmore. Marshall Allen and Pat Patrick have been with Ra since around 1952 – the Arkestra has persevered through years of economic deprivation and has managed to exhibit considerable growth during that time. The Arkestra is now twenty persons strong, give or take a couple people, and has recorded more than thirty albums, most of which are only minimally available outside a few of the hippest record stores in the country. Ra’s ascension at last year’s Festival was greeted by continual cheers of “Sun Ra, Sun Ra” by an audience most critics claimed would not be able to comprehend his music.
OTIS RUSH – “I never thought the blues would die,” said Otis Rush, recently, “after all, there’s too many people that’s got ‘em.” Otis has good reason to have the blues. Almost 20 years ago he gave up the Chicago stockyards and picked up the guitar. joining contemporaries such as Muddy Waters, Junior Wells, and Magic Sam. But as far as the general public is concerned. Rush is still relatively unknown. A brilliant bluesman, invited back for his second Blues and Jazz Festival, Rush is right now without a recording contract.
LUCILLE SPANN – The widow of the legendary Chicago blues pianist Otis Spann, namesake of the Festival site in remembrance of his stunning performances at the earlier Ann Arbor Blues Festivals, Lucille Spann is a moving vocalist and blueswoman in her own right. Having learned to sing in a church choir with gospel singers such as Mahalia Jackson and the Staple Singers, Lucille first emerged as a blues vocalist on the 1967 recording “Bottom of the Blues” with husband Otis holding down the piano. Her performance with Mighty Joe Young at last year’s Festival was a definite highlight. Lucille’s first LP, “Mojo Workin,” will appear soon on ABC/Bluesway.
HOMESICK JAMES – has dominated the Chicago slide guitar scene since the death of Elmore James. “See,” Homesick recalls, “Me and him was cousins. We used to get out of the house and string up a pile of wire, then play it with a bottle.” Homesick was born in 1910 in Somerville, Tennessee. Picking up the guitar at the age of ten, he played through the Deep South until moving to Canton, Miss. to live and play with Elmore. In 1964 he was signed to the Prestige label and “Blues on the South Side” was released shortly thereafter. But mostly Homesick, like so many black artists, from lack of recognition and financial support. He’s spent long stints working as an electrician and paint mixer to support his family, being called up from time to time by blues producer Willie Dixon to play the 1969 Monterey Jazz Festival, a Grant Park blues festival, various overseas tours, and now Ann Arbor in 1973.
MIGHTY JOE YOUNG BLUES BAND WITH EDDIE TAYLOR – Mighty Joe Young was born in Chicago on September 23, 1972 and raised in Milwaukee. He’s played all over and through the Chicago blue along with people like Otis Rush, Jimmy Rogers, Magic Sam, Willie Dixon, and Albert King. Joe backed up both Koko Taylor and Lucille Spann at last year’s festival. A fine LP of his own material was released by Delmark in 1971.
Eddie Taylor is one of Chicago’s busiest session guitarists. He’s probably best known for his work with Jimmy Reed on Vee-Jay in the fifties. He’s recorded and gigged consistently with Howlin’ Wolf, Elmore James, John Lee Hooker, Sunnyland Slim and Snooky Pryor.
HOUND DOG TAYLOR AND THE HOUSEROCKERS – Hound Dog Taylor (“I got that name because I used to run around with the girls a lot”) has been making the roughest, most intense boogie blues you’ll ever be able to withstand for years, until recently almost unnoticed except by a wise few. “Dog,” as he’s known to friends, harkens back to the roadside joints of Mississippi and Alabama with his happy-time rhythms and slide guitar. Born in Natchez, Miss. over 57 years ago, Dog is a regular sight at taverns in the teeming ghetto that is Chicago’s South Side. Now, because of a popular first LP on Alligator Records and a roof-raising performance at last year’s Festival, he’s invited often to colleges and festivals around the country.