Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Chicago Labels Still Keep Blues Alive


(Originally posted 11/14/04)

Guitar Shorty will promote new CD at Sticky Fingers

Guitar Shorty will appear at Sticky Fingerz in Little Rock's Rivermarket District on Thursday. Shorty has a terrific new CD out, "Watch Your Back" (Alligator), and he'll probably play several numbers from his CD during his Little Rock appearance.

If you're nice, he might even play the entire CD for you, and you won't even have to watch your back when he lays down some soaring guitar solos and sings some genuine blues like "Story of My Life," "I'm Gonna Leave You," "What She Don't Know," "Right for the Job," "Let My Guitar Do the Talking" and more.

But you get the idea.

Guitar Shorty (real name David William Kearney) was born in Houston in 1939 and started re-cording for Cobra in Chicago in the late 1950s, along with Otis Rush, Magic Sam and Buddy Guy. Blues doesn't get much better than that.

Shorty has come full circle as he's now recording for Chicago's Alligator Records, whose owner, Bruce Iglauer, has put out some of the finest blues around for the past 30 years. Iglauer's Arkansas connections include producing two great Fenton Robinson records, "Somebody Loan Me a Dime" and "Night-flight," perhaps the best work the former Little Rock resident, now deceased, ever made in a studio.

Guitar Shorty is another great Alligator talent. "Watch Your Back" is loud and tough and real. Shorty is a great blues man, and you shouldn't miss him when he comes to Little Rock. Listen to the real deal, and then buy an autographed copy of "Watch Your Back" from the great guitarist himself. You'll play it a lot.

Delmark is another important Chicago label that keeps putting out astonishing blues year after year.

For 50 years, Bob Koester has recorded several major blues artists in the windy city, including Arkansas' own Junior Wells, whose "Hoodoo Man Blues," "Blues Hit Big Town," "Southside Blues Jam" and "On Tap" are classic Delmark CDs.

Wells is no longer with us, but Delmark has recorded yet another Arkansas native, blues piano wizard Detroit Junior, who, at 73, is still going strong .

His first CD is called "Blues on the Internet," where Jimmy Dawkins, Lurrie Bell and Maurice John Vaughn back him on guitar, Bob Stroger on bass, Sonny Cohn on trumpet, Eric Schneider on saxophone and Kenny Smith on drums.

Much of this CD sounds like music that was played in the Arkan-sas Delta for decades.

A native of Haynes, Ark. (as he proudly told us when we walked into Kingston Mines blues club in Chicago a few years ago), Junior is a rocking bluesman who has played with the best of them. (He was on Howlin' Wolf's last Chess record.)

Junior (real name: Emery Williams, Jr.) is in the tradition of another great Arkansas blues pianist, Roosevelt Sykes, who knew how to throw a party, as does Junior. Now if somebody would invite him down to Sticky Fingerz, along with Jimmy Dawkins and the rest of the band, we'd have a real party.

The party doesn't end yet: Delmark has released an amazing recording called "Stompin' at Mother Blues" by J.B. Hutto, the late slide-guitarist whose lyrics no one understands but whose raucous musicianship never ceases to astound.

The first half of "Stompin'" was recorded in a Chicago blues club on a Sunday afternoon in 1966, when the club was closed, while the rest was recorded in 1972 in a studio.

It's an important musical document, adding luster to Delmark's impressive 50-year backlist, which also includes the late Luther Allison and Robert Nighthawk (both Arkansas natives), as well as Otis Rush, Memphis Slim, Big Walter Horton and many, many others.

What's also impressive is that Delmark can record a couple of white bluesmen and make them sound more than credible.

That's the case with the Dave Specter-Steve Freund CD called "Is What It Is," a far from memorable title, but the two guitarists do very well with help from Barrelhouse Chuck on piano and Rob Waters on organ, among others.

Specter and Freund aren't white rockers. They're for real and look like they've lived the blues all their lives.

Sticky Fingerz should invite them all down here, along with Little Arthur Duncan, another great Delmark artist from Chicago.

How about a Chicago blues series at Sticky Fingerz?


Post a Comment

<< Home