--- show 30 --- 6-24-2015
American Folk Blues Festival 1966John Mayall: USA Union 1970
American Folk Blues Festival 1967
John Mayall: Jazz Blues Fusion 1972
*************************With the fourth of July coming up before our next show, it’s time again to play some American Blues artists as they traveled across the pond to make the European tour known as The American Folk Blues Festival. Having already covered the first four editions, we are now set for the 1966 and 1967 lineups.
The set taken from 1966 starts off with a couple of pianists; Roosevelt Sykes returns after his appearance at the last year’s concerts and the lesser known Eurael “Little Brother” Montgomery and both are backed up by this year’s exceptional rhythm section of drummer Freddie Below and bassist Jack Myers. They were both part of one of Chicago’s most highly respected combo, the Aces, led by Louis Myers (not in this concert) on either harmonica or guitar, depending on who might be fronting the band.
Most notable where Louis was merely the guitarist was when the group backed a couple of harmonica players. The Myers brothers originally went by the title the Deuces until they came across he jazz-tinged drummer Below, who would have a long career as one of the city’s most sought-after studio men. As the trio was playing upstairs at a private party, a passerby went up and asked to sit in; this was the start of their time spent backing Junior Wells, a function they were serving at the time of this concert series. They were with Junior right up to the time Little Walter received recognition enough to depart Muddy Waters’ gigging band (although he was still Muddy’s first choice in the studio) and the band went with him as Little Walter and his Jukes. It didn’t work out that badly for Wells either as Muddy kept him working as his club harmonica player.
Although Louis Myers is not here, one of the few guitar players to be a better choice would be Otis Rush. Along the classic lady singers of the Blues would be Sippie Wallace and the “front porch” style of acoustic Blues are represented by Robert Pete Williams and the vocal duo of guitarist Sleepy John Estes and Yank Rachell on mandolin.
*************************This year, instead of mixing in some American artists as they were backed up the local British performers, we will take a listen to a couple of albums where the well known British singer, composer, harmonicist and piano player John Mayall had moved to the States and began using some of this country’s top talent to continue the ever-changing direction of his presentation of the Blues.
When we last saw Mr. Mayall in November, we wound up with his 1968 album, Blues from Laurel Canyon, the first LP where he stopped referring to his band as the Bluesbreakers. On that disc, he did one song (The Bear) talking about how he had met the southern Californis group Canned Heat, highly relevant to today’s show because two of the players on USA Union came directly from that band.
Guitarist Harvey Mandel first came to our attention from his appearance on Charlie Musselwhite’s first LP, Stand Back, before he had a few albums under his own name and ultimately wound up with Heat.
For my money, the best Blues bass player is Larry Taylor going back to his days with Canned Heat and through a handful of LPs with Mayall. The last I heard, “The Mole” was still playing with some of LA’s best Blues bands, most often on standup bass.
We have passed over a couple of albums but will come back to them before the end of this seemingly never-ending project, most notably 1969s Turning Point where Mayall experimented with a drummer-less four piece ensemble. This is again the model for this album and the interesting choice for the fourth member is violinist Don “Sugarcane” Harris, who had made a minor impact in the R&B world as half of the team Don and Dewey.
*************************For the 1967 concert selections, this one of those live albums that puts the intro to the next song on the tail end of the last one and for that I apologize; it is truly a pet peeve of mine.
Okay, enough complaining already! For the core of the electric Blues, we have drummer Odie Payne (Jr.?) whom I know from Magic Sam’s band and, I believe before that, Elmore James’, an unfamiliar name in bassist Dillard Crume, the vocals of both guitarist Hound Dog Taylor and harp man Little Walter as well as the fine singing of Koko Taylor, surely Chicago’s best Blues lady of the time. And plenty on the acoustic side with the guitars and vocals of Bukka White, Son House and Skip James as well as the duo of Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee. Brownie even throws in kazoo on a couple of the tunes.
*************************Larry Taylor is back again holding down those heavy bottom notes as Mayall takes on an excellent Jazz front line including Freddie Green on guitar, Blue Mitchell on trumpet and Clifford Solomon manning the saxes. Ron Selico is behind the drum kit and Mayall never tries to restrict his bass player so this album, Jazz Blues Fusion, is probably my favorite of Taylor’s recordings.
*************************We have just completed a successful Blues marathon over the weekend but if you didn’t get a chance to acquire one of the B.B. King t-shirts they will be available probably through the weekend. Of course, I am always happy to take your calls whether you wish to pledge or not. Jim Thomas has once again outdone himself and this will be among my favorite Blues marathon t-shirts (and I have all but one from the last 24 years), but don’t take my word for it; check it out at our website, KKUP.org.
And so many thanks to all who took part in the marathon this year, from the pledgers to the phone answerers to the DJs to the musicians who played live to the sound man to the many businesses that helped us out one way or another. And don’t forget Gil de Leon who both opened up and closed down the event; he probably felt like he was here the whole time!
*************************Running the Blues
I Keep on Drinking
Little Brother Montgomery
You Shouldn’t Do That
Yank Rachel and Sleepy John Estes
All Your Love
My Own Fault
Checkin’ Up On My Baby
Tribute to Sonny Boy Williamson
Robert Pete Williams
Flip Flop and Fly
Roll ‘em Pete
Big Joe Turner
Nature’s DisappearingYou Must Be Crazy
Where Did my Legs Go?
Took the Car
Deep Blue Sea
My Pretty Girl
Off The Road
Aberdeen BluesBukka White
Got a Letter This Morning
Hard Luck Child
I’m Gonna Move Across the River
The Sky is Crying
Hound Dog Taylor
You Be So Fine
Wang Dang Doodle
What Kind of Man Is This
Rock Island Line
Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee
Exercise in C Major for Harmonica,Bass and Shufflers
*Got to Be This Way (time permitting)
Good Time Boogie