Thursday, September 22, 2011

Beldon's Blues Points 9/22/11

If you're going to be in Phoenix this weekend and you like the blues........

David Coppa and Scrapple, who were the object of an August 7, 2010 post on this blog, will play the Paoli Blues Festival in Paoli, Pennsylvania at noon on October 1. the group just recently opened for the Fabulous Thunderbirds. For more information on the Paoli Blues Festival, check out this link.

And on OCT 2ND, singer/guitarist Lonnie Shields will play the blues from 1:30-4 p.m. at the Media Food Festival. Known as the "Keeper of the Blues," Shields is traveling to Helena, Arkansas where he will perform at the annual King Biscuit Blues Festival on October 8. He is a regular performer at the King Biscuit festival. For more information on the Media Food Festival, look at this website:

For more information on the King Biscuit Festival, look at this website:

On another note:

Last week I went to the Blast Furnace Blues Festival in Bethlehem, PA. I will have plenty more to report about that festival in an upcoming post (I've already put all kinds of interviews and videos from it on Youtube, but the reason I bring it up now is that the highlight of the event was to be a performance by the Chicago All-Stars: Guitarist Hubert Sumlin, Bassist Bob Stroger, guitarist Bob Margolin and drummer Willie "Big Eyes" Smith. Unfortunately, just two days before he was supposed to perform there, Smith died of a stroke in his Chicago home. For more on his passing, I again turn to Bob Corritore:

RIP Willie "Big Eyes" Smith - January 19, 1936 to Sept 16th, 2011. It is with great sadness that we report the unexpected passing of one the true greats of the blues. Willie "Big Eyes" Smith. Willie passed away this morning of a stroke. He was 75 and was musically active until the very end. A brilliant drummer, harmonica player and vocalist, he represented the true essence of Chicago Blues, and was highly regarded by all as an undisputed master. He was an alumni of the Muddy Waters band and wore those stripes with honor. Willie "Big Eyes" Smith was born in Helena, Arkansas in 1936, and started playing harmonica at age 17, shortly after moving to Chicago. His harmonica first appeared on record in the 1950s gracing recordings by Arthur "Big Boy" Spires, and Bo Diddley (Willie played the harmonica on the Diddley classic "Diddy Wah Diddy"). At some point in the mid to late 1950s he started playing drums and in 1959 began his long association with Muddy Waters. Smith's drumming first appeared on record on Muddy Waters' 1960 album release of Sings Big Bill Broonzy. Smith had a real gift for drumming and his playing would help to define the later Muddy Waters Band sound. Many of us remember the classic Muddy Waters lineup of Muddy, Willie, Pinetop Perkins, Bob Margolin, Luther "Guitar Junior" Johnson, and Calvin "Fuzz" Jones. In June of 1980 members of Muddy's band struck out on there own, and formed the Legendary Blues Band which eventually found Willie as the lead vocalist, showcasing his stellar, down-home vocals. Willie released his first solo album, Bag Full of Blues in 1995, which firmly established him as an artist in his own right. Willie would revive his first instrument in later years, and in 1996 he would release Way Back, which debuted his new direction, and showed him to be a solid harmonicist. His final recording, Joined At The Hip was a collaboration with the now deceased Pinetop Perkins, and it it earned the two a Grammy in the Traditional Blues category. We have just touched upon a few of the many recordings of Willie "Big Eyes" Smith who's discography as both a frontman, and a sideman represents the highest of heights in the blues. Willie had a strong work ethic and was a consummate professional, and as a result he worked relentlessly. He won numerous BMAs (Blues Music Awards) as "Best Blues Drummer", and he always carried great bands with him. Of note is the wonderful management of Patricia Morgan, who helped guide the later part of Willie's amazing career, and the impressive booking of Blue Mountain Artists. Also thanks to Willie for bringing out the wonderful talent in his band with Jimmy Mayes, Bob Stroger, "Little" Frank Krakowski, and for his wonderful collaborations with other Muddy alums. Willie leaves his greatest legacy with his son Kenny "Beedy Eyes" Smith, who has become one of the world's greatest blues drummers and carries on his father's sound and tradition. Prayers for all of Willie's family, friends, fellow musicians, and fans as we say goodbye to one of the greatest blessings of the blues. We love you "Big Eyes".

Bob also had the following information on funeral arrangements:

Sunday, September 25, 2011
Visitation 10 AM to 10 PM
Leaks & Sons Funeral Home
7838 South Cottage Grove, Chicago, IL 60619 Ph:773-846-6567

Monday, Sept 26, 2011
Wake 10am until 11am
Funeral services 11am until noon
South Park Baptist Church
3720 S. King Drive, Chicago, IL 60653 Ph. 773) 548-6566

For Willie's website, check out:

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Monday, September 12, 2011

Beldon's Blues Points: Songs from Readers 9/12/2011

Well, we've been promising them for a while and now here they are: songs sent in by our readers. We have some good blues here, but we've also thrown our net out a little bit to catch some other interesting styles.
By the way, the picture at the top is called "Robert Johnson with a 1935 Hudson Terraplane" and was painted by Chris Osborne of New Milford, CT, who says that copies are for sale. If you are interested, contact Chris at 860-354-3233 or drop her a letter at 24 Lester Lane, New Milford CT, 06776.
Now the music. We'll start with David Coppa and his band Scrapple. If you want to know more about them, check out a post we did way back on August 7, 2010 called "The von Trapp Family of Lower Merion Township." Here they are with "Slow:"

Born in the United Kingdom, Guitarist Chris Dair said he was inspired to play at an early age by French Gitano Flamenco guitarist Manitas De Plata. He developed a passion for blues at age 14 and began gigging around London at venues with people like John Mayall, John McVie and George Melly. Over the years, he has jammed or played with R&B and rock legends such as Rory Gallagher, Jimmy Paige, Captain Beefheart, Mark Knopfler, Peter Green and Jeff Beck, among others. Here he brings us "Lost in Wasted Time."

At 16, Brian Brazil discovered recordings from blues harmonica greats Little Walter Jacobs, James Cotton, Paul Butterfield and Charlie Musselwhite. He later learned country styles by studying Norton Buffalo and Charlie McCoy. As a performer, he has shared the stage with Albert King, Albert Lee, Coco Montoya and Don Preston. He has opened for other performers, including Bo Diddley, Albert Collins, Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard. You can catch some of his songs on his website:

Here are the songs of the group LAF. Originally formed in 1986 and reunited at the beginning of 2009, the group features Phil Matthews on guitar, keyboards and percussion; Alastair Boden on vocals; Andy Dobson on bass guitar and Rachel McCullough on harmony vocals. You can catch some of their songs on the following website:

We heard from Laura Vall, who described herself as an independent artist based in Los Angeles. Her music is "indie pop" in the style of Fiona Apple, Radiohead, Sade, Zero 7 or Beck, she said. Some of it follows: ">

These next ones are from Raza, who hails from Karachi, Pakistan. Here is some of Raza's background: "From the age of 14 I started poetry and music composing, during my studies somewhere in 1999, I hardly managed to make a video of my song. I spent all of my mother’s savings in song’s audio and video. It was a good start but after it I was unable to continue my music journey because my mother had a serious heart attack and I left music industry and gave my all attention to my studies and in care of my mother. During all this I keep writing and composing and in result now I have more than 700 lyrics and 200 compositions which is upbeat, melodic and suits to Film Industry with genre of Rock, Soft Rock, Ballad, Jazz, Pop and Techno. Since then I tried to contact different music companies time to time so they promote me and to launch my videos. Unfortunately, I found no one who takes stand..."
Here is one of Raza's songs:

Here is another:

Guitarist Bob Crawford's musical resume includes stints during the 1970's as house jazz guitarist for various establishments in New York City, among them the Jazzmania Society, the Terrace at the Village Gate and the "Jazz Jam" series at the Brook. In 1979 he worked as guitarist, stage manager, and Live Sound Mixer for Larry Harlow and the Fania All-Stars, an ensemble of musicians recording under the Fania label, which specialized in salsa. Crawford is also the author of "Symmetric Cycles," a book on improvisation.
Here's his music:">
And here's his website:">

We also heard from guitarist Mike Goudreau, who picked up his first guitar when he was 14 "and hasn't stopped playing since"and who lists a wide range of influences, among them the Beatles, Chuck Berry, Ricky Skaggs, Johnny Cash, Nat King Cole, Louis Armstrong, Frank Sinatra, Albert King, Freddie King, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Powder Blues and Downchild. That variety has impacted upon his work; in the 1990's he formed the Boppin Blues Band, which released a CD in 1994 that included everything from Chicago blues to jazz-influenced 40's and 50's swing/jump/shuffle to country to gospel. He currently writes songs for film/televison. You can catch his work on "Everyone Hates Chris," ABC's "Dirty Sexy Money," TBS's"The George Lopez Show," NBC's "Friday Night Lights," to name a few.
Here is one of Mike's songs, "Why'd I Drink So Much":">
Here is Mike again with "Gossipin' Mama":">
And here's his website:">

By the way, We'd like to thank all of the people who sent in songs. We'd also like to thank all of the people who have decided to become followers of this blog. That really makes doing this worthwhile.

We're going to end this with some sad news from harmonica player Bob Corritore:
RIP Honeyboy Edwards - June 28, 1915 to August 29, 2011. The legendary Delta blues artist Honeyboy Edwards passed away peacefully at his Chicago home at 3am, August 29, 2011. He was 96. Honeyboy had formally retired earlier this year, due to a weakened state of health that did not allow him to tour. He is well known as a pioneer of Delta Blues, who made pre-WWII recordings. Honeyboy was a close associate of Robert Johnson, and the man who traveled from the south to bring Little Walter to Chicago for the first time. Born in Shaw, Mississippi in 1915, Honeyboy left home at age 14 to travel and perform with Big Joe Williams, which became the early model of his life's activities. Honeyboy's wonderful recording career started in 1942 when famed folklorist Alan Lomax recorded him in Clarksdale Mississippi for the Library of Congress. His prolific recording career boasts of releases for many labels over many years; ARC, Sun Records, Chess, Folkways, Trix, Testament, Evidence, Roots, Blue Suit, Blue Horizon, Genes, Blue Shoe, APO, Wolf, and of course the Earwig Record Label. He has received 2 Grammy Awards, 2 BMAs (Blues Music Awards), has been inducted in the Blues Hall Of Fame, received a fellowship from The National Endowment for the Arts, and won a KBA (Keeping The Blues Alive Award) in the literature category for his brilliant biography The World Don't Owe Me Nothing. His performances and recollections have provided us a window into the past. One must mention Honeyboy's long association with Earwig Music label chief Michael Frank. The two met in 1972 and Michael would grow into the role of Honeyboy's manager, harmonica player, and traveling companion. Michael has done so much to guide Honeyboy's career, and we pray for his strength during this time of grieving. Honeyboy's charm, wit and musical brilliance will leave a gap in the blues, never to be filled. The deep blues emotion that poured out of Honeyboy Edwards in each performance has left a lasting impression on the blues world. Thank you Honeyboy for the blessing of knowing you.
To hear Honeyboy Edwards 1942 Library of Congress recording of "Spread My Raincoat Down" click:

To see Honeyboy in the 2004 documentary film,Lightnin' In A Bottle, click here:

Bob also wanted people who will be in the Phoenix area this weekend to know about this:

To all those who sent in songs, I know we didn't get to everyone today, but
your day is coming. As soon as I can transcribe the interview, we're also going to hear from a hot up-and-coming gospel singer from California who's now working with bassist Larry Martin Kimpel's (Remember? "The Groove Behind Frankie Beverly's Maze")GVR Records and Entertainment.

And there will be other surprises, for sure....

Monday, September 5, 2011

2011 D.C. Blues Festival with Preston Shannon

A powerful thunderstorm Saturday morning left folks here in D.C. afraid that the 23rd Annual D.C. Blues Festival was going to end up more wet than wild. But thankfully the weather was nice by the time fans headed to the Carter Barron Amphitheatre in northwest Washington to check out the event, this year featuring a line-up headed by the "King of Beale Street," Memphis Bluesman Preston Shannon.
Before I get into the show, first a word about the Carter Barron, which is run by the National Park Service. Having grown up within a mile of it, it is a place very close to my heart, and I am sure it means a lot to a number of other people as well. Summertime in the 1960's and 1970's, anybody and everybody played there, including Bruce Springsteen, Earth, Wind and Fire, Ray Charles, The Four Tops, The Temptations, Rufus and Chaka Khan, Return to Forever, Nancy Wilson, Cannonball Adderly and Donny Hathaway. And those are the ones I can remember!
Nowadays, the shows are more sporadic, and that's a shame. The amphitheatre is nestled inside of a wooded section of Rock Creek Park, and it's still a great feeling communing with nature and hearing great music at the same time.
And you can't do better than a free blues show like this one, which also featured harmonica player Grady Champion, harmonica player Anthony "Swamp Dog" Clark and his All Stars, Nadine Rae and her All Stars, and the D.C. Blues Society band featuring Sister Dr. Ayaba Bey. The event is put on each year by the D.C. Blues Society.
But rather than talk about how good the music was, I'll let you hear for yourself. I guess we'll go in order of line-up. Starting it off was the D.C. Blues Society Band:

Next on stage, the "funk blues" of Anthony "Swamp Dog" Clark and his All-Stars, who in February went to Memphis to represent the D.C. area in the 2011 International Blues Challenge:

Clark's group also did the "Swamp Dog Shuffle:"

Next up, Nadine Rae and her All-Star Band, who you'll see her introduce at some point during this video:

Grady Champion, a former rapper who won the 2010 International Blues Challenge, followed:

Then, the headliner, the Grammy-nominated (his album, "All In Time" received three nominations in 2000) "King of Beale Street" Preston Shannon. To me, his version of "Purple Rain" brought back memories of a 1984 Prince concert:

He also came out with this Rolling Stones cover:

Delivering this Stax medley, the man didn't let anyone forget he was from Memphis:

His show also had this nice Albert King/Stevie Ray Vaughan slow blues piece:

Later that evening, Shannon played a concert party at the American Legion Post on Sligo Avenue in Silver Spring. His set included "The Clock," a song he said that Isaac Hayes once told him should be a hit:

During a break, Shannon talked about his Grammy nominations, among other topics:

At the party was a buddy of Shannon's, Memphis Gold, who recalled good times the two had spent together in Memphis. Memphis Gold also talked about an upcoming fund-raiser he plans to hold in Chicago for Jim O'Neal, co-founder of Living Blues Magazine, who has recently been ill:

Also at the party was Dr. Ayaba Bey, who had fronted the D.C. Blues Society band at the Carter Barron. She talked about her background singing jazz in New York, and the difference between singing a small club as opposed to a large concert hall, auditorium or amphitheatre:

As you can see, it was a good day in D.C.