Key to the Highway2017-11-22 2-5pm (with Gil)
Chicago Blues All Stars
Booker T Laury, Sonny Blake plus
John Lee Hooker
*************************Today should be fun. It will be the first time Gil and I have done a show together. It is a long tradition for the Wednesday 2-5pm alternating hosts to get together when there is a fifth Wednesday in the month, which occurs four times a year. So here’s a little history. When the Key to the Highway show first aired on August 28th 1990, I alternated every other week with Leslie Ann Knight until Roger Anderson (there’s a couple of names from the past) suggested it would be easier for our listeners to follow if one of us took the first and third and the other took the second and fourth week, leaving the question of what to do when that fifth Wednesday comes along, so pretty quickly the solution became clear -- do it together. Leslie did a Jazz show titled In the Groove but, a number of months later, she turned to Blues herself and took on a Monday morning slot and also had the inspiration to put together a Blues Marathon on June 13th & 14th of 1992. Until then, we had marathons (I recall doing a Mardi Gras weekend early on) but not a weekend devoted to a particular genre. Leslie put on a second marathon the next year which established it as an annual event every June thereafter before she left KKUP.
Anyway, Leslie’s move to Monday mornings left a hole in the schedule so I was asked if I wanted to do every week and while I was considering maybe having different guest hosts every other week, I asked Johnnie Cozmik to do a show and he accepted but misunderstood, thinking I meant every other week. That has got to be the best misunderstanding I have been involved in because Johnnie shared the show with me for as near as I can recall about fifteen years including the fifth Wednesdays. Every now and then I still sneak in and visit Johnnie on his 3-5pm Thursday show and he’ll make me share the mike and say it is like those old fifth Wednesdays. Johnnie is far and away my best friend at the station although I seldom see him anymore.
At some point, Jammin’ Jim Farris had a conflict between the show he had and his work hours so he asked Johnnie to switch shows with him. That same conflict kept Jim from being able to come in those fifth Wednesdays and ultimately to give up the show entirely when he asked me to try to find a replacement. Jim is still with the station although currently only on the fifth Saturdays from 6-9pm.
So, Paul Johnson requested and received the slot and held it for about five years or so. Paul was a very comfortable fit because I actually knew him back around 1970. His show, 50s R&B House Party (or something like that), was more oldies oriented but, particularly on those fifth Wednesdays, he weighted it more toward the Blues and R&B. Paul was a lot of fun but he decided he needed a break and is still with KKUP but as an unassigned programmer at the moment.
So that created the opening for Gil. I met Gil twenty-some years back before he came to KKUP and for the past ten years or so I’ve helped him put together the June Blues Marathons, through the 2017 event, but I would think we’ll still be helping Eric in whatever capacity helps him keep them going.
This week is not the fifth Wednesday, but a band I saw in Canada this summer will be playing in San Francisco on December 7th so I wanted to air a show on three of the bands I caught while in Vancouver next week, my last scheduled show before Harpdog Brown plays at Biscuits and Blues, and Gil was kind enough to make the adjustment.
I didn’t realize I was going to go into this much detail of ancient history but it is kinda cool to have done it. Anyway, I’m looking forward to sharing this first show with my friend and let me tell you a little about the half of the show I have planned.
*************************You guys have likely heard me extol the virtues of wearing KKUP tee shirts and how getting them is a great reason to pledge during our marathons. So, I’m on my way out of a grocery store when a lady says, not quietly but somewhat exhuberantly, “KKUP!” I ask her name, which leads her to recognize my voice, which brings about a brief conversation. When she tells me her name is Gay, I realize I have spoken to her a few times on the phone and the meeting was very pleasant so, somewhere in the show, I intend to play Magic Sam’s tune I Found a New Love which includes the line “and she makes me feel so gay”, part of the reason Gay would call the couple of times I have played it in the past. I hope you guys have had similar good times you can attribute to wearing a KKUP tee shirt or cap.
*************************I’m figuring Gil should start off the show, then I’ll come in with a set recorded in Europe at the end of the 60s with a bunch of American artists on tour. I’m thinking it might have been in affiliation with one of the annual American Folk Blues Festival tours which Willie Dixon coordinated back in those days but the lineups don’t exactly match any of that annual event. On the first set, all the musicians take a turn at the mike, starting off with an ensemble jam, Chicago Boogie Style. Then pianist Sunnyland Slim does She’s Got a Thing Goin’ On before turning the mike over to bassist Dixon for 29 Ways. Drummer Clifton James gets his turn with Wee Hour Blues, then guitarist Johnny Shines sings Fat Mama before another ensemble number, Re Boogie, closes out the set. These all came from a CD called the Chicago Blues Band, as does a later set with John Lee Hooker backed by these same players for five of his tunes.
Sandwiched in between those sets, and a couple more from Gil, is some stuff from a CD called Memphis Blues. I played a Memphis Slim portion from it a couple of weeks ago, but I think this set might be even better, although the artists are not listed in the liner notes. However, I think I have figured part of it out. The last two songs on the set are piano numbers and you will hear them state that it is Booker T. Laury, a Memphis born keyboard man. Those two numbers are preceded by a pair of harmonica tunes with the authorship credited to Sonny Blake, so that is a presumption I am willing to make. The liner notes do mention Evelyn Young as the saxophone player in the ensemble who sings He Flew the Coop, apparently based on the music from Jessie Hill’s New Orleans classic Ooh Poo Pah Doo just preceding those. But the four opening songs of the set I will not venture a guess, but still … enjoy
Oh yeah, Happy Thanksgiving!
*************************Since it is still relatively new, I thought I’d mention that KKUP is now streaming on the internet and, while it is still in a developing stage, we have been putting out the word. I’m not all of that good with high-tech stuff, but it seems pretty easy to access. If you go to our website at KKUP.org 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. Let your friends elsewhere know they can now listen to your favorite station, and while they have the home page open they can check out our schedule.
Chicago Boogie StyleShe’s Got a Thing Goin’ On
Wee Hour Blues
The Chicago Blues Band 24mins
Call Me the Boogie ManForm 1040 Blues
That’s Where I Am Coming From
You’ll Soon Be Singing the Blues
He Flew the Coop
‘Fore Day Train
Shakin’ That Thing
Early in the Morning
Sonny Blake, Booker T. Laury + others 27mins
Crawling King SnakeDimples (I Love the Way You Walk)
It Serve Me Right to Suffer
Boom Boom, I’m Gonna Shoot You Right Down
John Lee Hooker & Chicago Blues Band 20mins