September 29, 2015

Fifth Wednesday with Paul     9-30-2015
Holmes Brothers                        1991, 1992
Ali Farka Toure                              1987

I wanted to do this show back on our fifth Wednesday show in July but couldn’t get it ready in time.  The Holmes brothers have always seemed a unique set of Bluesmen with their mix of Gospel and old fashioned Soul worked into their material, and a healthy helping of harmony throughout.  They were one of the first artists to impress me as I went through the KKUP Blues library when I first started, and I’m pretty sure I saw them one year at the San Francisco Blues Festival.  Alligator Records sends emails to anyone who would like them and I saved these obituaries.
   DECEMBER 19, 1943 - JUNE 19, 2015

Wendell Holmes, vocalist, guitarist, pianist and song writer of the critically acclaimed soul & blues band The Holmes Brothers, died on Friday, June 19 at his home in Rosedale, Maryland of complications due to pulmonary hypertension. Earlier this week, Wendell addressed his fans and friends in an open letter as he moved into hospice care. He was 71.
Wendell retired from touring earlier this year when he was first diagnosed. Holmes Brothers drummer Willie "Popsy" Dixon died on January 9, 2015 of complications from cancer. Brother and bassist Sherman Holmes continues to carry on The Holmes Brothers legacy with The Sherman Holmes Project featuring Brooks Long and Eric Kennedy.
Wendell, the man Entertainment Weekly has called "a timeless original," was born in Christchurch, Virginia on December 19, 1943. He and his older brother Sherman were raised by their schoolteacher parents, who nurtured the boys’ early interest in music. As youngsters they listened to traditional Baptist hymns, anthems and spirituals as well as blues music by Jimmy Reed, Junior Parker and B.B. King. According to Wendell, “It was a small town, and my brother and I were about the only ones who could play anything. So we played around in all the area churches on Sundays.” The night before, though, they would play blues, soul, country and rock at their cousin’s local club, Herman Wate’s Juke Joint. “When he couldn’t get any good groups to come from Norfolk or Richmond, he’d call us in,” Wendell recalls. “That’s how we honed our sound. We used to say we’d rock ‘em on Saturday and save ‘em on Sunday.”

Once Wendell finished high school he joined Sherman, who had already begun playing professionally in New York. The two brothers played in a few bands before forming The Sevilles in 1963. The group lasted only three years, but they often backed up touring artists like The Impressions, John Lee Hooker and Jerry Butler, gaining a wealth of experience. Sherman and Wendell met drummer Popsy Dixon, a fellow Virginian, at a New York gig in 1967. Dixon sat in with the brothers and sang two songs. “After that second song,” recalls Wendell, “Popsy was a brother.” They continued to play in a variety of Top 40 bar bands until 1979, when the three officially joined forces and formed The Holmes Brothers band. 

The band toured the world, releasing 12 albums starting with 1990's In The Spirit on Rounder. Their most recent release is 2014's Brotherhood on Alligator. The New York Times calls The Holmes Brothers "deeply soulful, uplifting and timeless."
In September 2014, The Holmes Brothers were honored with a National Endowment For The Arts National Heritage Fellowship, the highest honor the United States bestows upon its folk and traditional artists. They won two Blues Music Awards including Blues Band Of The Year in 2005. The Holmes Brothers are featured on the cover of the current issue of Living Blues magazine.
Wendell is survived by his wife, Barbara, daughters Felicia and Mia, brothers Sherman and Milton, and three grandsons.

Memorial service arrangements have not yet been announced.


 JULY 26 1942 – JANUARY 9 2015

Willie "Popsy" Dixon, drummer and vocalist of the critically acclaimed soul/bluesband The Holmes Brothers, died in Richmond, Virginia on Friday, January 9. He had recently been diagnosed with stage four bladder cancer. He was 72 years old.

Dixon, born in Virginia Beach, Virginia on July 26, 1942, was celebrated for his soaring, soulful multi-octave vocals and his driving, in-the-pocket drumming. He first met brothers Sherman and Wendell Holmes at a New York gig in 1967. Dixon sat in with the brothers and sang two songs. "After that second song," recalls Wendell, "Popsy was a brother." They played in a variety of Top 40 bar bands until 1979, when the three officially joined forces and formed The Holmes Brothers, which The New York Times described as "deeply soulful, uplifting and timeless." They toured the world, releasing 12 albums starting with 1990's In The Spirit on Rounder. Their most recent release is 2014's Brotherhood on Alligator.

Dixon first played the drums when he was seven. He told Blues On Stage, "My mom and dad took me to the store and told me to get anything I liked. There was this tiny red drum set, with a tiny little kick drum and snare...little cymbals. Now, that's what I wanted! By the next morning, the thing was in the trash can. I beat it all to death. But, I tell you what...I knew how to play after that. I just knew. I had the rhythm down pat and had timing too. Just that fast. I been playing ever since."

The Chicago Tribune described Dixon's voice as "otherworldly...a gift to the world of music." Living Blues said, "Popsy’s voice is a wonder...spontaneous and raw."

In September 2014, The Holmes Brothers were honored with a National Endowment For The Arts National Heritage Fellowship, the highest honor the United States bestows upon its folk and traditional artists.

Dixon is survived by daughter Desiree Berry and longtime partner Isobel Prideaux.

Funeral service information is pending. Interment will be at the Holmes' family plot in Saluda, Virginia.
I saw something interesting on our next artist, likely a segment on the PBS Newshour, and with that in mind I discovered he was mentioned in one of the Scorsese Blues chapters, which also aired on PBS many years ago, so I had to pick up one of his albums.  I believe you will find it interesting.

 Artist Biography by Richie Unterberger
   for AllMusic

One of the most internationally successful West African musicians of the '90s, Ali Farka Touré was described as "the African John Lee Hooker" so many times that it probably began to grate on both Touré's and Hooker's nerves. There is a lot of truth to the comparison, however, and it isn't exactly an insult. The guitarist, who also played other instruments such as calabash and bongos, shared with Hooker (and similar American bluesmen like Lightnin' Hopkins) a predilection for low-pitched vocals and midtempo, foot-stomping rhythms, often playing with minimal accompaniment.

Touré's delivery was less abrasive than Hooker's, and the general tone of his material somewhat sweeter. Widespread success on the order of Hooker was somewhat elusive, though, as Touré sang in several languages, and only occasionally in English. As he once told Option, his are songs "about education, work, love, and society." If he and Hooker sounded quite similar, it's probably not by conscious design, but due to the fact that both drew inspiration from African rhythmic and musical traditions that extend back many generations.

Touré was approaching the age of 50 when he came to the attention of the burgeoning world music community in the West via a self-titled album in the late '80s. In the following years he toured often in North America and Europe, and recorded frequently, sometimes with contributions from Taj Mahal and members of the Chieftains. In 1990, Touré retreated from music entirely to devote himself to his rice farm, but was convinced by his producer to again pick up the guitar to record 1994's Talking Timbuktu, on which he was joined by Ry Cooder. It was his most well-received effort to date, earning him a Grammy for Best World Music Album, but it was also proof that not all Third World-First World collaborations have to dilute their non-Western elements to achieve wide acceptance. However, Touré found success draining and again retreated to tend his farm.

He didn't release a record on American shores for five more years; he finally broke the silence in 1999 with Niafunké, which discarded the collaborative approach in favor of a return to his musical roots. Then, once again, Touré stepped away from the limelight. In 2005, perhaps partly to keep his name familiar to music lovers, Nonesuch issued (for the first time on compact disc) Red & Green, two albums Touré recorded in the early '80s, packaged together as a two-disc set. In the Heart of the Moon was also released in 2005. Touré died on March 7, 2006, from the bone cancer that he had been battling for years; however, he was able to complete one last album before passing. His final album, Savane, was released posthumously in July 2006. It was later discovered that he had completed impromptu sessions a year before his death alongside Malian kora player Toumani Diabaté in London. The results of these sessions were released in the simply titled 2010 record Ali & Toumani.
The focus of Paul’s half of the show will be on music from 1945 and his playlist follows mine.
One last note is the fact that KKUP is now streaming on the internet.  We have actually been doing it for a little over a month now and, while it is still in a developing stage, we are ready to put out the word.  I’m not all of that good with high-tech but it seems pretty easy to access.  If you go to our website at, you will see on the home page a strip of options immediately above the pictures of the musicians, the next to the last option being LISTEN ONLINE.  By clicking this, it brings up a choice of desktop or mobile.  I can only speak for the desktop but after maybe a minute I was receiving a crystal clear feed.  As already mentioned, this is still a work in progress and we are currently limited to a finite number of listeners at any one time.  I mention this so you will be aware to turn off the application when you are not actually listening.  (I put the player in my favorites bar for the easiest of access.)  Now we can reach our listeners in Los Gatos and Palo Alto, even my family in Canada.  Just another way to enjoy KKUP.
I Saw the Light
Worried Life Blues
High Heel Sneakers
Honest I Do
Give It Up
Drown in My Own Tears
Fannie Mae
   The Holmes Brothers

Kadi Kadi
Tchigi Fo
   Ali Farka Toure

My Girl Josephine
I Won’t Hurt You Anymore
Down in Virginia
Promised Land
Get Myself Together
Dashboard Bar
Train Song
   The Holmes Brothers

September 23, 2015

Development of the British Blues & Rhythm
  --- show 35 ---   9-23-2015

Keef Hartley Band                                1969
    + with Champion Jack Dupree         1969
Led Zeppelin                                        1969-71
   + Jimmy Page & All Stars                1968?

We have already coe across Keef Hartley in our ongoing saga from his days as drummer for the Artwoods and later with John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers.  He took up drums at the age of eighteen and within the year (1962) he took over from Ringo Starr in the band Rory Storm and the Hurricanes.  Keef had also put in time with  Freddie Starr and the Midnighters before joining the Artwoods in 1964 where he would stay until April of 1967 to join the Bluesbreakers.

Once again, a Bluesbreakers drummer would only last through about one album, although Keef also appeared on the Alone LP where Mayall played all instruments except the drums.  If the portions that open and close this set are indeed true representations and maybe even actual recordings of the conversation, the first title Sacked would seem more appropriate than Hartley Quits, an instrumental from the Bare Wires album.  Guitarist Mick Taylor is credited with writing the song, but since it is Keef on drums I feel pretty confident it was Mayall who later put the title.  And Mayall was not always endeared to his drummers, as Aynsley Dunbar’s Retaliation got its name in response to his removal from the Bluesbreakers.

Anyway, Hartley quickly put together his own group, and we listen today to the first of seven Keef Hartley Band LPs, Halfbreed, which has long been hailed one of the best representations of the British Blues genre.  I had long put off purchasing it because I was not all that impressed with the two LPs in my collection (Battle of Northwest Six and 72nd Brave) but found this album well worth playing in its entirety, even including the 1969 A-side Leave It ‘til the Morning, the only addition included on the CD version.

The lineup for the album had the rhythm section of Hartley and bassist Gary Thain, Peter Dines on organ and harpsichord and two guitarists, Spit James and Miller Anderson, with Anderson providing the vocals.  The basic band was augmented with brass provided by Harry Becket and Henry Lowther, Henry doubling on violin, and tenor saxists Chris Mercer and Lynn Dobson with Dobson also playing flute; Mercer had also played with Mayall including the Bare Wires album with Hartley.  Lowther and Dobson had also paired up previously in Manfred Mann circa 1966.
We also make the final presentations from Champion Jack Dupree’s LP Scoobydoobydoo where his piano and vocals were already backed by members of The Avnsley Dunbar Retaliation, Free and Chicken Shack.  This set was recorded early February of 1969 (Halfbreed having been recorded in October and December the year previous) with Hartley and Thain along with Mick Taylor on guitars, including lap steel.  Producer Mike Vernon even throws in some extra percussion on the last tune.  This segment, like those previously presented, shows the quality of the CD throughout.
The major portion, about half to be precise, of today’s show consts of the first four albums by Led Zeppelin.  As has already been noted in our last Yardbirds commentary, Zeppelin was an outgrowth of the Yardbirds.  When Eric Clapton departed the band they wanted Jimmy Page to take over, but Page was too successful as a studio musician to join an essentially unestablished band so he recommended his friend Jeff Beck.  Eventually, when bass player Paul Samwell-Smith opted out in favor of the production side of the business, Page did come in but was intended to take the bassist duties only until rhythm guitarist Chris Dreja could become proficient on the instrument.  Fortunately, Dreja learned quickly because in August of 1966 amid a US tour, Beck came down with tonsillitis and required a break, Page taking over on lead guitar.

Page would stay with the group to the very end and for a while upon Beck’s return the band had two of the most exciting of British lead guitarists, but all too often their egos did not allow them to live up to their potential.  Ultimately, after a concert on July 7th 1968, vocalist / harp player Keith Relf and drummer Jim McCarty (Top Topham was the original guitarist before Clapton; there, I’ve mentioned absolutely every member of the Yardbirds in this write-up of Led Zeppelin!) left to form the band Together, leaving just Page and Dreja with some Scandinavian concert commitments still to be met.  I’m ot quite sure where Dreja left the picture, but by the time all was complete, the members of Zeppelin had played the last of the shows.

Those members were Jimmy Page on guitar, John Paul Jones on bass and John Bonham on drums, all fronted by the vocals of Robert Plant. 
Since there was just the right amount of room left from the Hartley portion, there was some material I had long wanted to plug into one of the shows and this seemed the perfect fit.  I don’t have a lot of the facts available but somewhere around 1968 (as my best guess) Page was all set up and doing some independent recordings.  Whether Page was even a background player or just in charge of the recordings is not mentioned, but the players used mostly came from Cyril Davies All Stars.  The original rhythm section of the Davies band were drummer Carlo Little and bassist Cliff Barton (I can’t recall who played bass here but I do not think it was Barton) and Nicky Hopkins was a sometimes member of the ensemble.  Jeff Beck was a hot commodity so he is featured on a couple of the tunes.  The songs all appeared originally on the third in a series of British Blues on Immediate Records.  Anyway, as I said, it is a little set I have been waiting for the right moment to present to you and I’m sure you will enjoy it.
One last note is the fact that KKUP is now streaming on the internet.  We have actually been doing it for a little over a month now and, while it is still in a developing stage, we are ready to put out the word.  I’m not all of that good with high-tech but it seems pretty easy to access.  If you go to our website at you will see on the home page a strip of options immediately above the pictures of the musicians (I think that’s Bullmoose Jackson holding the saxophone), the next to the last option being LISTEN ONLINE.  By clicking this, it brings up a choice of desktop or mobile.  I can only speak for the desktop but after maybe a minute I was receiving a crystal clear feed.  As already mentioned, this is still a work in progress and there is one problem that needs to be worked out and that is that there is a limited number of listeners at any one time.  I mention this so you will be aware to turn off the application when you are not actually listening.  I wrote this in a rush to get it into today’s blog but I’m pretty sure it is correct; if not, let me know so I can change it for next week.
Babe I’m Gonna Leave You
Communication Breakdown
How Many More Years
   Led Zeppelin I

Sacked Intro:
  Hearts and Flowers
  Confusion Theme
Born to Die
Sinnin’ for You
Leavin’ Trunk
Just to Cry
Too Much Thinking
Leave It ‘til the Morning
Think It Over; Too Much to Take
   The Keef Hartley Band

LIvin’ Lovin’ Maid
Moby Dick
Whole Lotta Love
The Lemon Song
Ramble On
Bring It On Home
   Led Zeppelin II

Steelin’   (Jeff Beck)
L.A. Breakdown   (Nicky Hopkins)
Chuckles   (Jeff Beck)
Down in the Boots   (bassist)
Piano Shuffle   (Nicky Hopkins)
   Jimmy Page and The All Stars

Immigrant Song
Gallows Pole
Bron-y-aur Stomp
   Led Zeppelin III

Puff Puff
Blues Before Sunshine
Going Back to Louisiana
Postman Blues
Ba’ La Fouche
   Champion Jack Dupree

Black Dog
Rock and Roll
When the Levee Breaks
   Led Zeppelin IV

September 9, 2015

Key to the Highway     9-9-2015
Reproduction of time slot debut   8-29-1990

Today we take a departure from our delving into the Development of the British Blues and Rhythm study to celebrate the passing of a quarter of a century of the Key to the Highway show in this Wednesday 2-5pm time slot, airing for the first time on August 28th 1990.  All but one song played that day has been collected from my CD library (Lucky Lou by guitarist Jody Williams appeared from the collection of “rare” Chess instrumentals, Wrinkles, but is buried somewhere within my collection and is noted in the playlist as not available) so two additional tunes were added to fill out the two CDs I have been in the habit of preparing for recent shows.

I believe the playlist is indicative of several things that have been consistent throughout the program’s lifetime, the first being that it was never intended to be limited to merely Blues but augmented by other Blues-related musics.  When I began filling in at KKUP about a year and a half before finding an acceptable time slot (not that I was a prima donna but that I was between jobs and waited for an opening that would not conflict with my preferred work hours, but maybe I actually am a bit of a prima donna), I wrote up a little statement of how I felt the content would prove to be: “KEY TO THE HIGHWAY – A liberal view of the roads travelled by the Blues.  While it will include detours into Jazz, R&B, Rock ‘n Roll and the British influence, the main emphasis will be on full band electric urban Blues.  This up-tempo journey will be mapped out by Don.  Heard occasionally on KKUP 91.5fm.”  To that list you can add a hint of Zydeco and maybe others, but I believe I had a pretty good handle on what I wished to present to my listeners. Another truism that has persisted throughout is that you all know by now not to expect a whole lot of slow tunes here!

The first sets of this airing might sound more akin to what Paul plays the other Wednesdays, indeed almost all of today’s music would be a good fit there, as we begin in a 50s R&B mood, but also included today are the triumvirate of my favorites of the time (I would likely only add Luther Allison to the list), opening with Freddy King’s version of our theme song and later Howlin’ Wolf and Magic Sam.

I did take the liberty of moving Ivory Joe Hunter’s portion up a notch because I wished to close the set a bit livelier with some Chuck Berry.  It was Chuck’s instrumental Rockin’ at the Philharmonic which I chose to take the place of Lucky Lou.  I feel Chuck represents my feeling that the Blues should be given a wide berth since I often find myself saying that in his song Roll Over Beethoven he never said “dig this Rock and Roll.”; it’s Rhythm and BLUES!  And certainly Mr. Berry availed himself of some of the best Bluesmen Chess Records had to offer, his portion today to include Willie Dixon on bass (although I don’t believe he took advantage of Willie’s songwriting ability), drummer Fred Below, and his faithful piano partner Johnnie Johnson, although Lafayette Leake plays in his stead on Johnny B. Goode and Rockin’ at the Philharmonic.  Leake has been one of my favorites ever since I heard Magic Sam shout out “Tickle ‘em Blue from there, Laffy” on his Black Magic album. 

Big Joe Turner, Jerry Lee Lewis, and the Coasters were more mainstays in the nascent Rock ‘n’ Roll scene, but no doubt Bo Diddley was a Rocker and a Blues man and all set the table for the multitude of shows to follow.  Little Richard had his own travelling band, The Upsetters, but when it came time to cut the records it was with the best of the New Orleans Rhythm and Blues musicians available at the time.  One thing I can’t recall is why Stevie Ray Vaughan was included, except maybe because I had been requested to play it so many times and had likely just picked up a couple of his CDs.  I always considered him too “Rocky” for my taste, but now I wonder has the Blues scene evolved more in that direction because I actually enjoyed their listen.

Towards the end I might have been running out of material so the sets got longer, or maybe I just intended to fit more Magic Sam in than Muddy Waters, Little Milton or Otis Rush.  And I had likely recently discovered Screamin’ Jay Hawkins; with the strength of his voice, it is not surprising he had wanted to be an opera singer, and on stage he wore a turban and made his coffin an integral part of his act.

If there is room at the end of the show, I have added the first song from the second broadcast, Little Walter’s version of our theme song.  Initially I would open up with one artist’s performance or another, but soon preferred to wind up each beginning set with The Key to the Highway.

Twenty-five years!  Who’d a thunk?

NOTE: After the playlist I have added commentary on Big Joe Turner that I had been working on for an earlier project.

Key to the Highway
   Freddie King

Corrinne Corina
The Chicken and the Hawk
The Midnight Special Train
   Big Joe Turner
Since I Met You Baby
Empty Arms
   Ivory Joe Hunter
Johnny B. Goode
Roll Over Beethoven
+ Rockin’ at the Philharmonic
   Chuck Berry

Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On
Great Balls of Fire
Hound Dog
   Jerry Lee Lewis
Bo Diddley
Who Do You Love
Before You Accuse Me
   Bo Diddley
Lucky Lou
   Jody Williams
Keep A-Knockin’
Rip It Up
Long Tall Sally
   Little Richard
Down In Mexico
Young Blood
Yaketty Yak
   The Coasters

Pride and Joy
Mary Had a Little Lamb
   Stevie Ray Vaughan
Mannish Boy
The Stuff You Gotta Watch
I Got My Mojo Workin’
Rollin’ and Tumblin’
   Muddy Waters
How Many More Years
Poor Boy
   Howlin’ Wolf
If You Love Me Baby
Beggin’ My Baby
Somebody Told Me
   Little Milton

Scuttle Buttin’
Honey Bee
Stang’s Swang
Cold Shot
   Stevie Ray Vaughan
Sit Down Baby
My Baby’s a Good’un
Three Times a Fool
It Takes Time
   Otis Rush

She Belongs to Me
My Love is Your Love
Magic Rocker
Everything Gonna Be Alright
21 Days in Jail
Out of Bad Luck
   Magic Sam
I Put a Spell On You
Little Demon
Alligator Wine
Yellow Coat
She Put the Wamee on Me
Person to Person
This Is All
   Screamin’ Jay Hawkins

Love Struck Baby
   Stevie Ray Vaughan
+ Key to the Highway
   Little Walter



ansas City during prohibition was a wide-open town rife with speakeasies, jazz-filled gin joints, gambling and prostitution under the corrupt reign of Thomas J. Prendergast (since 1910 the mob-affiliated local leader of the Democratic party), and all the goodtime spending created a vibrant music scene that drew and kept some of the best musicians of its time.  "You could hear music twenty-four hours a day in Kansas City", according to drummer Jo Jones, so indeed there was no reason to go anywhere else. 

After Prendergast's conviction for tax evasion in 1939, the Kansas City night life was quickly and drastically curtailed, but until then what times were had!  Count Basie had a prolonged residence there, as well as Jay McShann and Andy Kirk, but perhaps the best show was put on by a hometown boy they called Big Joe Turner (1911-1972).

Joe began his apprenticeship at an early age by going out with street musicians: "I'd go down from the house a block or two in the morning and I'd find one of the blind singers standing on the corner.  I'd stay with him all day and we'd cover the town".  In his late teens, he snuck into the Backbiter's Club and talked his way on stage, where he impressed with his timing and unmiked vocal strength, then convinced the owner into believing he was twenty years old and giving him a weekend job.  This later turned into work behind the bar at the Black and Tan Club, where Joe became known as "the singing bartender".  As Andy Williams' wife, pianist/arranger Mary Lou Williams recalled, "While Joe was serving drinks, he would suddenly pick up a cue for a blues and sing it right where he stood, with Pete (Johnson) playing piano for him.  I don't think I'll ever forget the thrill of listening to Big Joe Turner shouting and sending everybody while mixing drinks."

After seeing them in K.C. in 1936, producer John Hammond brought Big Joe and Pete Johnson to New York with mixed success; they returned in 1938 as part of Hammond's two-day "Spirituals to Swing" concert at Carnegie Hall in memory of Bessie Smith, who had passed away a year earlier.  Hammond first asked Joe to front Count Basie's band, but Joe wanted neither to slight Basie's lead singer Jimmy Rushing nor to learn Rushing's songs.  Instead, he performed backed only by Pete Johnson; there they met Albert Ammons and Meade Lux Lewis and the three pianists stayed on in New York gigging as the Boogie Woogie Trio with Joe as their vocalist.  This was the concert in which Hammond planned to include Robert Johnson, but his premature death had Big Bill Broonzy filling his slot; other acts at that show were Billie Holiday, Sonny Terry, Sidney Bechet's New Orleans Feetwarmers (whose pianist James P. Johnson also backed Bessie's niece Ruth Smith), Ida Cox and the Kansas City Six featuring vocalist Helen Humes, Sister Rosetta Tharpe with Mitchell's Christian Singers, and the Golden Gate Quartet.  Hammond had the good sense to ask the Hall's engineer to record much of the two shows and it was here that Joe's "It's All Right Baby" was preserved to acetate, and seven days later his first recording session was done at Vocalion's studio including his classic "Roll 'em Pete".

In 1941, Joe came out to Los Angeles to participate in a two and a half month production titled Jump For Joy: A Sun-Tanned Revu-sical put together by Duke Ellington

Big Joe (6'2", 300+ lbs.) ran the gamut of most of the currently popular musics without changing his own style throughout his career.  He would sing in front of big bands but much preferred the flexibility to improvise with smaller groups, and on some of his recordings he was accompanied only by his longtime piano partner and friend Pete Johnson.  He was one of the most popular of the blues shouters, and when he signed with Atlantic Records became a pioneer of rhythm and blues, and later a major influence on the rise of rock and roll due to his songs such as "Shake, Rattle and Roll".

Apparently, there was once a discussion while Joe was recording an Atlantic session at the Chess studio in Chicago where the Chess brothers expressed their displeasure with Ahmet Ertegun's outrageously generous payment of 5% to his recording artists.  Leonard Chess mentioned an agreement he had with Muddy Waters, the man who almost singlehandedly put Chess Records on the map.  "Muddy, when your stuff like Hoochie Coochie Man and Mojo stops selling, you can come over to my house and do the gardening."  Ertegun answered, "Funny, but I got a different kind of deal with Turner.  If his records don't sell, I can be his chauffeur!"  When Big Joe passed away in 1972, Ertegun discretely paid off the family's mortgage and covered all the funeral costs, and later went on to retroactively pay his performers for overseas and re-issue royalties.  He also contributed $2 million to a foundation to assist R&B artists needing financial aid.

August 26, 2015

Development of the British Blues and Rhythm
  --- show 34 ---   8-26-2015

Ten Years After                           1969 & 1970
Taste                                            1969 & 1970

Rory Gallagher was one of those names I was familiar with but never had the opportunity to hear his music.  That situation was rectified a couple of years back when I bought five of his albums in a reasonably priced set, much of which was played during last year’s St. Patty’s Day show.  The day had always been one used to present the British side of the Blues, but since that was to what the entire year was anticipated to be devoted (obviously, it has lasted a little longer) I decided to narrow the focus and play the music of two Irishmen, that of Gallagher and Van Morrison.  But today we go a little farther back and seek out the music from his first LPs while with his band Taste. 

Rory would prove himself proficient on the mandolin, dobro, harmonica and saxophone but his favorite tool complement his vocals was his Fender Stratocaster, for which he paid 100 pounds, quite a hefty price for a 14-year-old.  There were the normal influences of the time, initially Skiffle (he formed his first band with his brother Donal) and then American Rock ‘n’ Roll and Rockabilly.
Rory was born March 2nd in Ballyshannon but was raised in the city of Cork where, in 1964, he answered an ad in that city’s Examiner for a guitarist and found himself in the Fontana Show Band.  “We played all over Ireland, toured Spain and did a couple of English gigs.  It turned out to be great fun.  We were luckier than most show bands; the drummer wanted to do Jim Reeves stuff but the rest of us anted to play Nadine and A Shot of Rhythm and Blues.”  The band was able to intersperse Rock and R&B tunes amid the standard fare of Irish dance and Country songs and the current pop songs the audience was expecting.

Moving more toward the British beat music, the band changed its name to the Impact, and during the summer of 1965 the band was holding down a six week residency at an American base near Madrid, but by the time they returned to the U.K. the group broke up.  The band’s manager convinced Rory to put together a group to fulfill contractual obligations in Hamburg, Germany, retaining the bass player and finding a new drummer.  The club expectations were for more than a trio so a fourth body was put in the publicity photos and when the trio appeared they explained that “the organist” came down with a case of appendicitis.  After the demanding German schedule was completed this ensemble also fell apart.
Then, after filling in with the band the Axels as they met their final commitments before they disbanded, Rory joined forces with the band’s drummer, Norman D’Amery, and bass player Eric Kitteringham, and took the name Taste.  The trio played the standard British fare of Rock, Blues, and R&B but also began to infuse material into their act that the members had written.  Playing as a three-piece again became problematic as the Federation of Irish Musicians, comprised mostly of show band players, had set a minimum number of musicians allowed to work in its jurisdiction.  As they were preparing for their first gig at the Arcadia in Cork, the Federation proposed a compromise if the band would audition for the union.  Taste, all veterans from show bands themselves, found the request undignified and caused the Federation to relent and opened up the country for smaller ensembles.

Early 1967 found them playing around Cork and Dublin and then going onto Hamburg. Upon their return to Ireland they relocated to Belfast and acquired a residency at the Maritime Hotel, where the 1974 release In the Beginning, 1967: Early Taste of Rory Gallagher was recorded.  The band was used to open for some of the visiting British Blues bands, the like of John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, Aynsley Dunbar’s Retaliation, Pink Floyd, Fleetwood Mac, and Cream, opening opportunities in London, most notably at the Marquee, and they made the city their home in May of 1968.  Almost immediately, the band broke up and, by August, Gallagher had assembled another trio with a pair of Irishmen who had met in the Derek and the Sounds Show Band, drummer John Wilson and bass player Richard McCracken.  Wilson had also put in a short term with the Irish band Them.
They stayed busy with several appearances at the Speakeasy club and the acquisition of Tuesday nights at the Marquee, where their October 25th 1968 act became available in 1987, and also played at the Royal Albert Hall for Cream’s farewell performance.

All of today’s selections are taken from the CD Best of Taste, with only one tune left out, and I believe it represents Gallagher’s sentiments toward music well.  “When I listen to something I like, I like to be taken out of my seat and tossed across the room.  I like guts, a good drive, which can include gentle stuff too.  If it sounds good and feels good, that’s it.”  Aside from Sugar Mama, which is instead presented in the live segment, only one tune from the original 1967 debut self-titled album is missing from the compilation (we chose to omit a second one, otherwise you hear the entire disc) and the follow-up, On the Boards, lacks only four.

While the first LP failed to chart in the U.S. or the U.K., it did reach #10 in Holland.  Taste became a major draw in Europe and perhaps the pinnacle of their success was the 1969 tour in support of Blind Faith and Delaney, Bonnie & Friends.  The band’s music became elongated in the live performances as they improvised strongly.  As Rory told Hit Parader, “We work things out as we go.  We don’t want to ever play it safe. . .it may fall really flat some nights, but you will be sure never to hear the same thing twice.”
On the Boards hit the record bins in January 1970 and made #18 in Britain and #33 in Germany.  As Lester Bangs opined in Rolling Stone, “The band as a whole is so tight and compelling, the songs so affecting, and the experiments and improvisations so clearly thought out, that it seems a shame to even suggest that Taste be classed in any way with that great puddle of British Blues bands.  Everybody else is just wood shedding.  Taste have arrived.”

A European tour culminated on August 28th 1970 at the Isle of Wight Festival and part of Taste’s performance is captured on the documentary film.  In fall, the band made their first major tour of England but although the band was achieving its justified popularity, its members could not get along and the group disbanded   Two live albums were released, Live Taste from the Montreux Casino) as well as from the Isle of Wight.
Gallagher assembled another trio and released his first solo LP very late in 1970.  I picked up a double CD of his BBC work and will present it in an upcoming show, but in two weeks I will be celebrating the first show of my 26th year in this time slot with as close a reproduction as possible of the music played on the very first Key to the Highway show which aired on August 28th 1990.  Here’s to another 25.
Unlike Rory Gallagher, there likely was not a pair of albums I played more often around the time of their release (both 1969) than Stonehenge and Ssssh, the first two sets by Ten Years After in today’s show.  I saw the Alvin Lee-fronted band twice before their historic performance at Woodstock, but after that I thought they went too commercial for my Blues-oriented tastes.  Still, I was able to make an enjoyable set from the next two albums, Cricklewood Green (actually recorded prior to the Woodstock concert) and Watt, both released in 1970
Hear Me Calling
Woman Trouble
Three Blind Mice
I Can’t Live Without Lydia
I’m Gonna Try
Speed Kills
   Ten Years After

Blister on the Moon
Leavin’ Blues
Born on the Wrong Side of Time
Same Old Story
 I’m Moving On

Bad Scene
Two Time Mama
Stoned Woman
Good Morning Little Schoolgirl
The Stomp
I Woke Up This Morning
   Ten Years After

What’s Going On
Railway and Gun
It’s Happened Before, It’ll Happen Again
If the Day Were Any Longer
Eat My Words
On the Boards

Sugar the Road
Working the Road
Year 3000 Blues
Me and My Baby
Love Like a Man
As the Sun Still Burns Away
I’m Coming On
·      I Say Yeah   (time permitting)
I’m Gonna Run
   Ten Years After

I Feel So Good
Sugar Mama
Sinner Boy