September 14, 2016


Key to the Highway 
2016-09-14                                                                                            

Freddie King
The Electric Flag
Joe Houston
Andy Mazzilli
Clarence “Pinetop” Smith
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I keep my CDs in a manner which, to my imagination, is unlike most folks.  I remove them from their jewel cases and store them in binders usually in groupings of similar players.  That way, I try to keep musicians who came from the same band (even sidemen who later had their own careers) together, but the primary similarity would be by location.  Freddie King is one artist I feel I have always misfiled.  Freddie was born on September 5th of 1934 in Gilmer, Texas, and that is where I have him placed, but in reality the style of his recordings should place him in one of my Chicago Blues binders because he was a contemporary of my favorite generation of Blues artists of all time, the one that included fellow guitar-slinging vocalists Magic Sam, Buddy Guy, Otis Rush, Jimmy Dawkins, etc., and stylistically he certainly fits best with them.

By the age of six, Freddie was learning to play guitar from an uncle and his mother, Ella Mae King.  Freddie’s family relocated from Dallas to Chicago’s south side in 1949 and, although only fifteen, he began entering the nightclubs in the neighborhood which featured some of the best Bluesmen of the day, among them Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, Elmore James and Sonny Boy Williamson II.  He very soon formed his own band, The Every Hour Blues Band (which also featured guitarist Jimmy Lee Robinson).  In 1952, King was working in a steel mill, but the eighteen year old was also finding time to play as a sideman in bands like Earl Payton’s Blues Cats, for whom he recorded in 1953 on the Parrot label but the tracks were never released.

Freddie continued to work as a sideman and it appears his reputation was climbing higher as some of the bandleaders included guitarists Jimmy Rogers, Robert Lockwood Jr., Eddie Taylor, and Hound Dog Taylor, pianist Memphis Slim, harmonica master Little Walter Jacobs, and often included Willie Dixon on bass.  King cut his first tracks as bandleader in 1956 for the El-Bee label.  Margaret Whitfield performed vocal with him on the A side, Country Boy, while King sang alone on the B side, both numbers featuring the guitar of Lockwood, Jr.  Try though he may, however, in spite of backing on some of their artists’ recordings, King was unable to acquire a contract with Chess Records, the premier Chicago Blues label, but in the late fifties while Willie Dixon was away from Chess, the producer and songwriter did get Freddie into a session for Cobra Records but, again, this session was never to go to platter.  Still, King was becoming among the best-known artists on the growing West Side Blues scene.

In 1959, Freddie met pianist Sonny Thompson, who also served as producer and A&R man for Syd Nnathan’s King Records conglomerate and got signed to the Federal subsidiary in 1960.  His first recording session for the label, on August 26th, produced that year’s single Have You Ever Loved a Woman and You’ve Got to Love Her with a Feeling, but easily the most significant track from that date was his instrumental Hide Away which, when released in 1961 as the B-side to I Love the Woman, reached #5 on the R&B charts and #29 in the Pop Singles list, the latter fact unheard of until then for a Blues instrumental.  It became common practice after this during his stay with the company to pair singles with a vocal on one side and one of the more than thirty instrumentals King and Thompson wrote on the flip.  Following that tradition, I have alternated instrumentals throughout our opening set.

Wikipedia tells us his birth name was Fred King but his recordings with Nathan’s Cincinnati-based labels listed him as Freddy King; later, Freddie made his preference clear.  In 1961 Federal released two albums of mostly past singles, the first, Freddy King Sings, was followed quickly by Let’s Hide Away and Dance Away with Freddy King: Strictly Instrumental.  The latter, combined with the 1965 LP Freddy King Gives You a Bonanza of Instrumentals, was released in 1991on CD as Just Pickin’.  Freddie recorded for Nathan into 1968 but late in the year signed on with Cotillion, a subsidiary of Atlantic Records, at the urging of one of their producers, saxophonist King Curtis, releasing the albums Freddie King is a Blues Master in 1969 and My Feeling for the Blues in 1970.

In 1969, Freddie was booked in the Texas Pop Festival, which was headlined by Led Zeppelin and led to his signing with Leon Russell’s Shelter Records in the fall of 1970.  The label released Getting Ready in 1971 (recorded at the former Chess studio in Chicago) followed by 1972’s Texas Cannonball and then Woman Across the River in 1973.  Combined with the inclusion of Freddie’s old King singles in so many popular musicians’ repertoires, the success of these three LPs had Freddie’s concert appeal in high gear, appearing with major rock artists and before audiences made up mostly of white fans.

Freddie’s next signing was with the Robert Stigwood Organization’s RSO Records.  Legendary British producer Mike Vernon was in charge of 1974’s Burglar and the follow-up Larger Than Life albums with the exception of Sugar Sweet, a track produced by Tom Dowd at Miami Florida’s Criterion Studios which had King backed by Eric Clapton and his band at that time, drummer Jamie Oldaker, bassist Carl Radle and third guitarist George Terry.  Clapton also appeared on a ive version of Farther On Down the Road contained in the post mortem compilation, Freddie King: 1934-1976.

I was fortunate to hear Freddie around 1972 at the Brookdale Lodge in the Santa Cruz Mountains, an intimate setting that was one of the highlights of my musical appreciation.  With tour dates amounting to nearly 300 days on the road each year, Freddie’s health was failing and, at the age of 42, he passed away due to complications from stomach ulcers and acute pancreatitis on December 28th 1976.  Posthumous recognitions came in 1993 when Texas Governor Ann Richards proclaimed September 3rd Freddie King Day, and when Rolling Stone magazine posted its list of 100 greatest guitarists of all time, Freddie ranked #15.  He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012.         
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In the early nineties, just after I had joined KKUP, I went down to the Monterey Blues Festival a couple or three times with the Conductor (still on KKUP Thursdays 5-7pm), and on one of those occasions there was a little R&B combo on the secondary stage whom I liked enough to pick up the CD they had available.  The disc was titled Cornbread and Cabbage Greens, which compiled tracks recorded by the Jazz and R&B saxophone player Joe Houston around December of 1952.  We hear today several tracks from that disc, which was released in 1991.

Another Texan, Joe was born in the Austin suburb of Bastrop, Texas on July 12th 1926.  Before taking up the saxophone, he learned to play trumpet in school and received his first break in 1941 when the sax man from a band he went to see didn’t show up and the teenager was allowed to take his place.  Houston toured with the Midwest territory band of King Kolax around Chicago and Kansas City from 1943 to 1946.

Returning home to Texas after World War II, Joe recorded with Amos Milburn and Big Joe Turner; indeed, it was Turner who got Houston his first recording contract, with Freedom Records to whom Big Joe was currently signed.  Through this time, Houston had been playing alto sax but switched to tenor when he chose to emulate the honking sound that was new on the scene.  In 1949, Joe moved to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where he played with Wynonie Harris, among others.

Joe moved to Los Angeles in 1952, the same year he had two hit singles with his band The Rockets in Worry, Worry, Worry and Hard Time Baby, both of which climbed to #10 on the Billboard R&B chart and the only times he would make such a list despite recording for many of the L.A. record companies.

Joe appeared in concert and on disc throughout the 1990s and 2000s with his band the Defrosterz (perhaps the group I saw him with in Monterey) alongside his manager and bass player Mark St. John.  Joe only ceased playing in 1995 after he had a stroke and, having suffered several more, passed away on December 28th 2015 in Long Beach, California.
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Again, going back to my early times here at the station, the earliest recollection I have of Andy Mazzilli was when he stopped by our studio in Cupertino and just sat down and talked music with me as I was doing a show.  I had already cued and put on a CD that I believe was the first time I heard it and when I played it, starting with the classic It Hurts Me Too, Andy said something like, “That’s the Holmes Brothers.”  It was their first album so I asked Andy if he was familiar with it and he said, again paraphrasing, “No, but I recognize the song from when I played with them in New York.”

Andy was about my son’s age; in fact, he attended the same high school but when I asked my son recently if he happened to have known him, he looked it up in a yearbook or something and discovered that Andy was about three years his elder.  While we were in our Santa Clara studio Andy was staying nearby and every now and then would stop by when I was on the air.  We also went out for beers a couple of times and I got to know him fairly well.  I considered him a friend.

Andy was a very talented young guitarist (when I first met him he would have been in his mid-twenties) and I recall one time in particular that was among the best pure Blues jam session I had heard.  It was at the short-lived Bathtub Gin and Blues (formerly the Lakewood Lounge) and it matched him up with bass player Charles Lyons, possibly with a drummer, and it was most likely entirely instrumental.  As far as local bassists, I have always considered Charles among the elite and the way the two worked off of each other . . . . All I can say is WOW!

Anyway, shortly after it was recorded, Andy gave me a CD with about twenty minutes of a session at JJ’s Lounge in 2002 and that will be played on the air for the first time, by me anyway, today.  I don’t know who the other players are, but I think you’ll find it highly enjoyable.

I found a brief bio online and from it I discovered that Andy left the Bay Area while still in high school to attend the Berklee School of Music in Boston, then, while still seventeen, moved to New York.  Andy would tour with some of the best-known Blues sidemen, I presume as an ensemble, including Howlin’ Wolf’s longtime guitarist Hubert Sumlin, pianist Pinetop Perkins, former Muddy Waters guitarist Jimmy Rogers, and harpman / guitarist / vocalist Louis Myers who, often with his band The Aces, backed up Little Walter, Junior Wells, and Charlie Musselwhite.  When not on tour, Andy could be found performing with The Holmes Brothers, John Popper of Blues Traveler or, if I knew Andy, just about anybody in order to get his music out.  He also spent a year as the main guitarist for Joan Osborne.

I’m not sure of the exact dates but I feel safe in saying he was born in December of 1967 and left us in April of 2007.  Way too soon.``
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We likely won’t get around to it due to my talking too much, but I did include on the second disc three tunes by Clarence “Pinetop” Smith.  Clarence was born in Troy, Alabama on June 11th. 1904, and grew up in Birmingham, Alabama.  I had always assumed that the nickname Pinetop referred to the wood in a piano, but Wikipedia informs us that Smith acquired it from his childhood penchant for climbing in trees. In 1920 Pinetop moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and found work as an entertainer.  He showed off skills not only as a singer and piano player but also as a comedian when he went out on the T.O.B.A. tour, short for Theater Owners Booking Agency but often spoken of as Tough On Black Asses.  He spent time accompanying Blues singer Ma Rainey and the musical comedy duo of Butterbeans and Susie. 

Fellow pianist Cow Cow Davenport referred Smith to J. Mayo Williams who was the main producer for Vocalion Records, leading Pinetop to move his wife and son to Chicago, Illinois, where, in 1928, he made his recordings.  I’ve been unable to ascertain whether Pinetop made more than one session in 1929, but he was all set to return to the Vocalion studio when on March 15th, the night before the session, he was shot and killed in a bar fight; whether he was the intended victim is unknown.

At one point, Clarence lived in the same Chicago rooming house as Albert Ammons and Meade Lux Lewis.  I hope there was more than just one piano in the house!  Smith recorded what would become almost an anthem to Boogie Woogie, a relatively new style of piano that all three were practitioning at the time, and although Ammons and Lewis went on for long careers, Pinetop’s Boogie Woogie was not only among the earliest hit in the style but the December 29th creation Smith said he put together while at a St’ Louis house rent party seems to have taken on a life of its own.

In 1938, Tommy Dorsey had a big band arrangement of the song made and recorded by his orchestra, which became his best selling record at five million copies, and was followed by versions by Bing Crosby and Count Basie.  Joe Willie Perkins’ version of the song in the 50s led to his forever being known as Pinetop Perkins, a moniker which lasted long into the new millennium.  Unlike many of the Boogie Woogie piano presentations, Smith’s music was not strictly instrumental, and lyrics from Pinetop’s Boogie Woogie can be found in a couple of Ray Charles’ tunes, Mess Around and What’d I Say; phrases like “the girl with the red dress on”, “shake that thing”, and “mess around”.  Smith’s tune was also included in a Modern Jazz vein on Bob Thiele’s 1975 LP, I Saw Pinetop Spit Blood, and the renditions go on to this day.  Pinetop was inducted into the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame in 1991.
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\The Electric Flag dubbed themselves “An American Music Band”, originally intended to be the group’s name when first assembled in the spring of 1967, and the only liner notes that appeared on the LP we will be hearing from today, go on to say, “American music is not necessarily music directly from America.  I think of it as the music you hear in the air, on the air, and in the streets; blues, soul, country, rock, religious music, traffic, crowds, street sounds and field sounds, the sound of people and silence.”  That is all that is provided to describe the 1968 debut album, A Long Time Comin’, except for the song list and a somewhat complicated list of players, but I’ll try to clarify that a little by cutting it down to its core.  I believe it was an eight man band with drummer / vocalist Buddy Miles, bassist Harvey Brooks, keyboardist Barry Goldberg and guitarist Michael Bloomfield along with saxophonists Herbie Rich and Peter Strazza and trumpeter Marcus Doubleday with singer Nick Gravenites holding the front of the stage. 

In 1967, the ensemble was formed by Bloomfield shortly after leaving the Paul Butterfield Blues Band just as they were winning acclaim for their first two albums.  He was strongly assisted by Goldberg’s organizational skills.  Goldberg, a Chicago native, began as a drummer until his barrelhouse playing mother convinced him to switch to piano.  Shortly after graduating high school, Barry joined an R&B band, Robbie and the Troubadours, with whom he toured for three years.  Later, on July 25th 1965 he was part of the infamous Bob Dylan performance at the Newport Folk Festival. 

Also that year, he met the Texas-born guitarist Steve Miller, who had moved to Chicago because of the town’s wealth of Blues.  The Miller-Goldberg Blues Band was formed and maintained a year’s residency at Big John’s, putting out one single on Epic which led to a promotional spot on the TV show Hullabaloo.  The next step was a four week gig at New York’s nightclub The Phone Booth beginning December 15th, where an unreleased album Live at the Phone Booth was recorded.  Miller soon went back to Texas and it then became the Barry Goldberg Blues Band.

By 1966, when they went to Nashville to lay down the tracks to the album Blowing My Mind, the band included Charlie Musselwhite on harmonica and Harvey Mandel on guitar.  The LP didn’t do much, as Goldberg recalled, “We were playing stone Blues, but nobody knew and we were starving, so we finally broke up.”  The three were re-united for Musselwhite’s 1967 debut album, Stand Back!  Here Comes Charlie Musselwhite’s South Side Band.

In between those, Goldberg, who had been set to tour with Dylan until Bob got in a motorcycle accident, spent a few months with the Chicago Loop, including appearing on a 1966 single which also included Bloomfield and another in 1967.  Goldberg’s organ was a driving force on Mitch Ryder’s #4 single, recorded in late 1966, Devil with the Blue Dress On / Good Golly Miss Molly, and he and Michael backed Ryder on his 1967 LP What Now My Love.  Now that the Electric Flag was about to happen, Ryder was offered the vocalist spot but decided to stay with the Detroit Wheels  

Nick Gravenites was another Chicago native, growing up on the city’s South Side.  He was enrolled at the University of Chicago beginning in 1956 and soon met the sixteen-year-old harp player Paul Butterfield, who attended a nearby high school.  The two began performing as a duet in the style Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee (Nick playing guitar).  Gravenites: “Then we got more interested in electric Blues, and we began hanging out together in black clubs and thinking we may even be able to play that stuff.”

In 1959, after receiving a small inheritance, Nick seized the opportunity to visit San Francisco where he played the coffeehouses and crashed where he could, shuttling back and forth between Chicago and S.F. until he finally made the Bay Area his home in 1965.  One evening while Butterfield was visiting, the two were playing at the Cabal coffeehouse and were heard by Elektra Records producer Paul Rothchild, who offered Butterfield a contract.  When Butterfield said he was not yet ready to commit, the other Paul gave him a card to use when the time was right.

In early 1963, Paul and Nick were together, playing at the Blind Pig in Chicago, until Butterfield got an offer to take over Bloomfield’s gig at Big John’s.  He formed a new band without Gravenites, but in early 1965 Michael and Nick formed another group which, at times, also included Musselwhite.  Unable to quite make a success of it, the band fell apart when Michael joined the Butterfield band.

Still in 1965, Gravenites was able to place two of his compositions on vinyl and included future Butterfield guitarist Elvin Bishop on one side.  Nick went on to become managing partner in a club on the North Side called the Burning Bush and put together a band to play there.  Things went well until Nick’s partner was killed in a car crash; it was then that Gravenites made the final move to San Francisco, playing gigs at the Matrix and the Jabberwock.  Then, in 1967, Gravenites signed on with the Electric Flag as songwriter and featured singer, singing two of his compositions Groovin’ is Easy and Another Country which we hear here.

I must once again express my gratitude to the compilers of the 2001 book Blues-Rock Explosion, for without it I surely would not have had almost any background on Goldberg and Gravenites.  Maybe I should just congratulate myself for having the wisdom to have bought it!

Bassist Brooks was in Bob Dylan’s band when Bloomfield had worked on the 1965 album Highway 61 Revisited, and it was his recommendation that they bring in the nineteen year old Miles, who had been drumming for Wilson Pickett.  Bloomfield had recently completed the production of a session for James Cotton and he decided then that his new band should have a horn section.  I have no idea how tenor saxist Strazza was chosen but Doubleday was referred to them by Jazz guitarist Larry Coryell.

Prior to this album, they did the soundtrack to the movie The Trip, starring Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, Susan Strasburg and Bruce Dern, written by Jack Nicholson and directed by Roger Corman, all about an LSD experience.  Bloomfield still wanted a baritone saxophonist and Herbie Rich came on board in time to make their first gig June 16th or 17th at 1967’s Monterey Pop Festival.  I was fortunate to be there Sunday so I know they did not play that day.

This segment is not complete and I have not even proofread it.  I ran out of time or I would have at least given a few more notes on Bloomfield, and for all of that I apologize, but it is not like this i`1``s a short read.     Enjoy the show.
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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.
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Hideaway
Country Boy
Wash Out
Have You Ever Loved a Woman
San Ho-Zay
See See Baby
Just Pickin’
I’m Tore Down
Butterscotch
I Love the Woman
High Rise
You’ve Gotta Love Her with a Feeling
Sen-Sa-Shun
   Freddie King   36mins

Killing Floor
Groovin’ is Easy
Over-Lovin’ You
Texas
Wine
You Don’t Realize
Another Country
Easy Rider
   The Electric Flag   32mins

3 untitled songs
   Andy Mazzilli   JJ’s 2002   19mins

Remington Ride
Dust My Broom
It’s All Right
The Same Blues
Living on the Highway
Palace of the King
Goin’ Down
   Freddie King   28mins

Lester Leaps In
Sentimental Journey
Jay’s Boogie
I Cover the Waterfront
All Night Long
She’s Gone
Ruth’s Rock
   Joe Houston   18mins

Pinetop’s Boogie Woogie
I’m Sober Now
Pinetop’s Blues
   Clarence “Pinetop” White   9mins

Big Legged Woman
Woman Across the River
Key to the Highway
   Freddie King   15mins

August 31, 2016

Key to the Highway    (with Paul)    
2016-08-31                                                                                                    
Joe Liggins and the Honeydrippers
Odetta
Cripple Clarence Lofton
Cow Cow Davenport
Paul’s batch of unreleased R&B from the 50s
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Not much to say that the title bar above or the playlist below doesn’t tell you except that we likely will only get in the first two sets of mine.  We tend to talk a little more when we share the show.  As usual, Paul gives me his playlist in time to be able to include it after mine.  Enjoy.
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I meant to get this out last week but the blog took a lot of time to put together and I just kinda forgot.  I misspoke in my write-up for show #51 of the just-completed study of the British Blues when I said Jim McKee did the sound for the Johnny Almond final concert.  Indeed, Jim informed me he was doing stage duty and not manning the mixing board.  Sorry for the misinformation.
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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.
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The Honeydripper
Goin’ Back to New Orleans
Pink Champagne
Rhythm in the Barnyard
I’ve Got a Right to Cry
Little Joe’s Boogie (Guitar Boogie)
Rain, Rain, Rain
Blues for Tanya
The Flying Dutchman
Whiskey, Women and Loaded Dice
   Joe Liggins and the Honeydrippers   30min
Unemployment Blues
Trouble Everywhere /
   I’ve Been Living with the Blues
Homeless Blues
Look the World Over
Please Send Me Someone to Love
Hear Me Talking to You
W.P.A. Blues
   Odetta   27min
Down the Road
In the Morning
Strut That Thing
   Cripple Clarence Lofton   8min
Mecca Flat Blues
5th Street Blues
State Street Jive
Hurry Up and Bring it on Home
Slum Gullion Stomp
   Cow Cow Davenport   12min
 
·        
2016 – 08-31 UNRELEASED SONGS
1 She's A Good One - Larks  unrel Chess  rec 1959
2 BUILT LIKE A RAILROAD TRACK - TINY BRADSHAW  UNRELEASED KING  1951 CD
3 JET - VICTORIA SPIVEY WITH LONNIE JOHNSON  Rec.1963  Spivey LP 1012  1970 (33)
4 BE MY BABY - SUNNYLAND SLIM  1954  VEE-JAY UNISSUED CD
5 OOH WEE SUGAR - SUGAR BOY CRAWFORD - CHESS UNISSUED NmarCD
6 ROUGH TREATMENT - MOODY JONES  J.O.B. Unissued  1952 FLYRIGHT LP  FLY 565  1980
7 HOW CAN I GET ALONG WITHOUT YOU - WANDERERS  UNRELEASED SAVOY  1954
8 LAST TIME I FOOL AROUND WITH YOU - MUDDY WATERS  ARISTOCRAT UNISSUED  1949 CD
9 LITTLE GIRL - SAMMY MYERS (with Elmore James)  1961 UNISSUED N.Y. on Fire (33)
10 COOPERATING MAMA - LINDA HAYES  KING UNISSUED  c.1955 CD
11 RHYTHM MAMA - JOHNNY TEMPLE  QUEEN-KING UNISSUED  1946 CD
12 TELEPHONE BOOGIE - JOHNNY GUITAR WATSON AND JEANNIE BARNES  LEGENDARY DIG MASTERS V.3 iCD
13 MEET ME TONIGHT ALONG THE AVENUE - JESSE THOMAS  1949 (Unreleased un=l 1993)
14 DIRTY DEAL BLUES - BIG MAYBELLE  UNISSUED KING c.1947 CD
15 GET AWAY FROM HERE - PETE 'GUITAR' LEWIS  REC.1956-7  UNISSUED.  DIG MASTERS NO.3  1992 CD
16 GOT TO HAVE YOU BABY - COMBO NETTES  COMBO UNRELEASED  1956 CD
17 BAD LIFE BLUES - SMOKEY HOGG  MODERN 1947 (Unreleased) (N)
18 THINGS GOING SO TOUGH WITH ME - LITTLE HUDSON  J. O. B. 1953 UNISSUED CD
19 LAKE MICHIGAN BLUES - MEMPHIS MINNIE & LITTLE WALTER  REC. 1952  Chess CHD-9330  1991 CD
20 OVERSEAS - FLOYD JONES  CHESS UNISSUED 1951 CD
21 PEARLY B - THE SUNNYLAND TRIO  rec. 1952  Unreleased CD
22 SUNDAY MORNING  - CLARENCE GARLOW  UNRELEASED GOLDBAND 1956  CD 1993
23 WHAT'S THE MATTER - JIMMY ROGERS 1952 UNRELEASED UNTIL 1975 CD
24 TAKE ME BACK BABY - JIMMY WITHERSPOON  1949 (Unknown)
25 HEY PRETTY BABY - RUTH BROWN AND JIMMY BROWN  ATLANTIC (unreleased)  1959
26 MIDNIGHT HOURS - LARRY DALE  GROOVE 1954 UNRELEASED
27 BIG CITY BOUNCE - HORNETS  STATES (Unreleased)  1953
28 HOW COULD YOU DO THIS TO ME - FIVE KEYS  AUDIO-VIDEO  1953 UNRELEASED
 

August 24, 2016


Development of the British Blues and Rhythm
  --- show 52 ---   8-24-2016
Alexis Korner Memorial Concert   May 21st 1985
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So here we are, thirty-two months after we began our look into the British Blues with a show that will pretty much take us back full circle to our very first show.  It was then that we first wrote about Alexis Korner and his band Blues Incorporated.  How he had been part of the first group of players when Chris Barber assembled his four piece Skiffle group from the members of his larger Trad Jazz ensemble to play the breaks between sets, thus leading to the Skiffle craze that took over the U.K. for a couple of years.  As that fad began to wane, the Skiffle intermissions moved more to a straight Blues theme and built up an audience large enough to allow Korner to break away, along with his harmonica man Cyril Davies, and form their own group and the first Blues club.  In those days, the idea of a music club was the getting together of like-minded players and fans to discuss and play their music and eventually came to often refer to the venue where they gathered.

Throughout his career Korner had the support of Barber, who is credited for bringing to England some of the best American Blues artists of the 50s and 60s.  If not for Barber, Alexis might never have had the chance to participate in the earliest popular presentations of the American idiom by British players, an opportunity that led to him becoming the patriarch of the genre by encouraging so many artists to join him on stage and hone their skills, most notably the original Rolling Stones (Mick Jagger, Brian Jones, Charlie Watts, Keith Richard), Eric Burdon of The Animals, Long John Baldry, Paul Jones, the entire Graham Bond ensemble (Ginger Baker, Jack Bruce, Dick Heckstall-Smith and, of course, Bond himself), not to mention the multitude of players to credit the experience of being in Alexis’ audience as an eye-opening glimpse at the Blues.

All the time that his crusading for the Blues was taking place there was not enough money to get by, so Korner’s decision to get into the radio side of music as well gave him a long, successful career as an influential BBC DJ and producer.  His influence was felt up until a couple of months before his passing on New Year’s Day 1984.  Billed as Buxton ’95, what we hear today was held on Sunday, May 21st at the Palace Hotel, more than a decade after Alexis’ departure.
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Throughout the five hour long concert, the background for most of the performers was The Norman Beaker Band, Norman having been the one who conceptualized the tribute show.  Bandleader Beaker played guitar and offered vocal when appropriate and his rhythm section was made up of bass player John Price and drummer Tim Franks.  Indeed, any time there was a drummer in the entire show it was Franks and the only times Price didn’t join him was when Jack Bruce took center stage with his vocals and bass and on one more tune when Colin Hodgkinson played bass behind Chris Farlowe on Stormy Monday.  Dave Bainbridge provided the keyboards throughout, notably on the Hammond organ, except in the Mike Sanchez portion as noted later.

Jack Bruce opens up our show backed by a stripped down version of the Beaker band with Franks, Bainbridge and Beaker along with saxophonist Dick Heckstall-Smith.  They open up with a tune that goes back to Bruce and DHS’ Graham Bond ORGANization days, Neighbor Neighbor, then follow that up with four tunes Jack recorded with Cream, beginning with the Booker T. Jones and William Bell composition made famous by Albert King, Born Under a Bad Sign.  White Room, a Bruce original,  and Sittin’ on Top of the World come next, the latter originally done in the 1930s by the Mississippi Sheiks, before moving on to the natural Jack Bruce set closer, Sunshine of Your Love, co-written by Bruce and Eric Clapton.

Jack is the only one to remain onstage as Paul Jones brings his harmonicas to perform, beginning with a duet version of their own composition Sonny Boy Williamson, then Bruce departs as the previous cast of players return augmented by the slide guitar of Andrew Shelley and the additional sax of Lanni.  Paul starts off with a couple of tunes he wrote, Room and Board and Not Me, and then adds his version of Gil Scott Heron’s Blue Collar before the horn section of DHS and Lanni adds Ray Warleigh on saxophone and, on trombone, the man who is often credited as the earliest exponent of the Blues in Great Britain, Chris Barber, for the Memphis Slim classic Every Day I Have the Blues.

I don’t feel the need to say a lot about Jack Bruce, except that his career has spanned from maybe the late 50s until his recent passing.  We have previously chronicled his time in the 60s with Alexis Korner’s Blues Incorporated, The Graham Bond ORGANization, and Cream and followed much of his solo career throughout this study; definitely one of my favorite bassists and vocalists.  We also presented Paul Jones’ work with Manfred Man in the 60s and recently joined him again as a member of The Blues Band for about the last 35 years and still going strong.

Chris Farlowe was another singer whose material we presented way back, beginning with his first recordings from 1963, and then again in the seventies when he joined DHS’ band Colosseum.  I Think It’s Going To Rain Today is an a cappella number but Price plays bass on Love Me Baby and then Hodgkinson on Stormy Monday, the T-Bone Walker tune that became a signature song for Farlowe   Beaker, Franks, Bainbridge, Lanni and DHS are joined by a couple more guitarists, Mick Abrahams most notable for his time with Jethro Tull) and James Litherland as well as Pete Brown on additional percussion.

I came across the name of vocalist Brian Knight when it was mentioned that he was an employee of Cyril Davies’ auto body shop but could not locate music by his band, Blues By Six, which also featured soon-to-be Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts and Geoff Bradford, who was Davies’ first choice as guitarist for The All Stars.  Knight adds his slide guitar here with the guitar of his partner Toni Vines on Meet Me in the Bottom and Hard Travellin’.  I’m sorry, but I know nothing of Vines, not even gender.  There were two more numbers by the duo that did not make our cut due to time restrictions.  To wind up this acoustical set, Tony McPhee presents solo versions of classic tunes created by Blues greats Muddy Waters (I Can’t Be Satisfied), Son House (Death Letter) and John Lee Hooker (Groundhog Blues).  McPhee took the last tune’s title for the name of his 1968 group The Groundhogs and when Hooker toured England they were his choice for backup band.  We did a couple of shows with the Hogs and by the time we got done with their 1972 material it was probably the closest to psychedelic that we heard.  But long before that we were exposed to some of his earlier acoustic work as well as when he was a member of The John Dummer Band and The Brunning-Hall Sunflower Band.

I can’t tell you much about Blues Shouter, but an online write-up about the concert informs us that she was born Val Harris and later went by the stage name Connie Lush.  I will presume that the Beaker band backed up her powerful voice, along with guitarist John Lewis, for Three Hundred Pounds of Joy, one of the many songs Willie Dixon wrote for Howlin’ Wolf, and I’m pretty sure Bull Moose Jackson did the original of Big Ten Inch Record, but Don’t Play That Song is just a familiar song that I probably should be able to tell you more about, but all in all a good, strong set.

When DHS and drummer Jon Hiseman took the initiative to start Colosseum, James Litherland was the original vocalist and one of two guitar players in the group.  I believe he was gone before their second release, but he is here on his original Another Time Baby after previously being heard with Chris Farlowe.  After he steps down, The Norman Beaker Band (Franks, Price, Bainbridge, Lanni and Beaker, with Shelley replacing Litherland’s guitar) remains to take a turn in the spotlight.  They perform three of Beaker’s compositions, Cry To Me, No Reason to Believe in Me and Cross Me Off Your List.  Bainbridge steps out from behind the keyboards to make room for Mike Sanchez for the next three numbers.  Sanchez was a part of Jeff Beck’s Crazy Legs, which was a tribute album to Rockabilly star Gene Vincent, and also was a guest performer at Eric Clapton’s wedding.  His portion of the set commences with Be Careful, followed by the Lowell Fulson standard Reconsider Baby and closes with Down the Road a Piece, a tune written by Don Raye but possibly first popularized by pianist Freddie Slack with vocal by Ella Mae Morse or perhaps by Amos Milbourne, but anytime you hear it, be it by Paul Jones’ with Manfred Mann or The Rolling Stones, it’s just a great Boogie Woogie stomper.

When vocalist Dave Berry comes onstage, Lanni steps down and the band of Beaker, Franks, Price and Shelley add Bainbridge’s Hammond organ to complement Sanchez on piano.  Playing lap steel guitar, Brian Wood makes his only appearance of the concert as the ensemble performs two standards, beginning with Bobby Troup’s Route 66, first recorded in 1948 by The Nat King Cole Trio.  That is followed by a tune recorded more than a decade afterward when, in 1959, Roscoe Gordon recorded his composition of Just a Little Bit.  While it has been put out by too many artists to try to name, the late 60s version by Magic Sam may still be my all time favorite Blues track.  It only makes sense that Berry would choose two numbers that each registered simultaneously on the R&B and the Pop charts as Berry began his career as an R&B singer who transmogrified into a Pop crooner through a long and successful career.  But he never forgot his roots and when he heard about this concert he contacted Beaker and implored him to be included to show his respect for Korner.

The closing set is probably the most representative of what Korner himself was trying to put across.  Having been drafted in the late 50s, Herbie Goins served in Germany as a U.S. Army medical corpsman and wound up in England after his discharge.  Following a brief stint with Chris Barber’s band (who is heard here on trombone) the African-American Goins became the vocalist for Alexis’ Blues Incorporated between 1963 and 1965, including the recording of two LPs, Live at the Cavern and Red Hot from Alex.  In addition to Barber, the horn section has one of the sax players from Herbie’s time with Korner, Dick Heckstall-Smith, as well as Lanni, all backed by the Beaker, Franks, Price, and Bainbridge ensemble as well as guitarist Umberto Sacchi.

Herbie puts together an excellent set here, perfect to close out the show.  Even though the Blues Incorporated favorite Hoochie Coochie Man, written by Willie Dixon for Muddy Waters, sounds to me as though Goins is thanking the band and saying goodnight to the audience, I kept it as the set opener, the same way it is placed on the CD.  That is followed by Shuffle, a nice jam with the authorship credited to Beaker, before the band breaks into B.B. King’s Woke Up this Morning which, had I placed it first as I wanted to do, would have left dead air between the first two songs.

AS I mentioned, time restrictions caused the exclusion of two tracks by Knight and Vines and we also omitted a solo performance by Abrahams and a three song set by a group called the Detonators.  Zoot Money did perhaps the set that most attempted to play tunes from Korner’s repertoire (although Goins did a good job on that by picking a couple of numbers he sang while with Alexis).  Otherwise, a lot of artists wanted to show off their own stage fare.  Anyway, we had aired that Money set a long time ago but it was impressive enough as bonus tracks on one of Zoot’s discs that it led me to this three individual disc purchase.  I hope you enjoy all you hear.
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Sometime after I tried to breathe new life into this blog that I had tried briefly a few years back, I began to have one concern.  By providing as much information as I had time to put together for you online with the goal of playing as much music as I could fit on the air, was I leaving a void by omitting interesting commentary that used to enhance my earlier shows; after all, even if I had a lot more readers, the KKUP airings should be the priority.  I believe I will alter that beginning next show by maybe putting together one eighty minute CD (instead of two), maybe one or two highlighted artists about whom I will probably study in some depth here, as a compromise so I can tell you as much as I feel appropriate and pick other artists to round out the show.  I don’t know, just thinkin’. . . .  Any feedback would be appreciated.  I had a request last show for some Freddie King and he sounds like the perfect subject for our first show officially back to the normal routine
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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.
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Neighbour, Neighbour
Born Under a Bad Sign
White Room
Sittin’ on Top of the World
Sunshine of Your Love
   Jack Bruce
Sonny Boy Williamson
   Jack Bruce, Paul Jones
Room and Board
Not Me
Blue Collar
Everyday I Have the Blues
   Paul Jones       56min

I Think It’s Going to Rain Today
Love Me Baby
Stormy Monday
   Chris Farlowe     12min

Meet Me in the Bottom
Hard Travellin’
   Brian Knight, Toni Vines
I Can’t Be Satisfied
Death Letter
Groundhog Blues
   Tony McPhee     17min

Three Hundred Pounds of Joy
Big Ten Inch Record
Don’t Play That Song
   Blues Shouter       12min

Another Time Baby
   James Litherland
Cry to Me
No Reason to Believe in Me
Cross Me Off Your List
   The Norman Beaker Band
Be Careful
Reconsider Baby
Down the Road Apiece
   Mike Sanchez     39min

Route 66
Just a Little Bit
   Dave Berry     6min

(I’m Your) Hoochie Coochie Man
Shuffle
I Woke Up This Morning
   Herbie Goins       21min