Friday, December 8, 2017

A Blues Fix Mix CD - Volume One, Track Eighteen

This week's selection brings Volume One of FBF's Blues Fix Mix CD to a conclusion.  I hope you've enjoyed listening as much as I enjoyed compiling this several years ago.  At this point, I've completed four volumes of the Blues Fix Mix CD series, which I usually put together for friends who are just becoming acquainted with the blues.  While it can by no means be seen (or heard) as a definitive set of blues, it is definitely a set of blues that I've enjoyed listening to over my thirty years of being a blues fan.  We'll be looking at Volume Two in the near future.

For my final selection of Volume One, I opted to conclude with an instrumental....one of my favorites.  If I had a theme song, this song would be on the short list.  It's the perfect song for driving down a hot, dusty Mississippi highway (and actually was featured a lot during the M for Mississippi documentary).  It's just a fun song overall and is an excellent example of modern Mississippi Delta blues from T-Model Ford and Terry "Harmonica" Bean........."Red's Houseparty."

"Red's Houseparty" was part of Ford's Jack Daniel Time release from 2008.  The album was a live session recorded at Red's Lounge in Clarksdale, MS, which happened to be Ford's favorite juke joint.  It was a mix of band tracks, which featured Ford with Bean on harmonica (of course) and drummers Lee Williams and Sam Carr, and several acoustic solo tracks by Ford (a rarity).  There's nothing at all fancy on this set, just the blues played well by a man who came to recording late in life, but made the most of it while he was here.




Your Complete Blues Fix Mix CD (Volume One)......

Track 1:  "Cold Women With Warm Hearts," Magic Slim & the Teardrops
Track 2:  "Son of Juke," Billy Branch
Track 3:  "Feel Like Blowing My Horn," Robert Lockwood, Jr.
Track 4:  "Big Boy Now," Big Jack Johnson
Track 5:  "Blues Man," B.B. King
Track 6"  "Four Cars Running," Larry Garner
Track 7:  "Cadillac Blues," Johnnie Bassett & the Blues Insurgents
Track 8:  "Hard Time Killin' Floor Blues," Skip James
Track 9:  "Double Trouble" (Live), Otis Rush
Track 10:  "She Caught The Katy And Left Me A Mule To Ride," Taj Mahal
Track 11:  "Give Me Back My Wig," Luther Allison
Track 12:  "Garbage Man," Bernard Allison
Track 13:  "Walking By Myself," Jimmy Rogers
Track 14:  "Fast Train," Bobby Parker


Track 15:  "Beefsteak Blues," James "Son" Thomas
Track 16:  "Honky Tonk Blues," Roy Gaines
Track 17:  "Caldonia," Pinetop Perkins
Track 18:  "Red's Houseparty," T-Model Ford (with Terry "Harmonica" Bean)

Volume Two coming soon, but Friday Blues Fix will be back in a couple of weeks with our Top Twenty Albums for 2017.  


Friday, December 1, 2017

A Blues Fix Mix CD - Volume One, Track Seventeen

We're just about to wrap up our Blues Fix Mix CD.......this week's and next week's will conclude Volume One.  We've tried to provide a pretty wide base of blues styles for listeners, but we haven't had much blues piano to speak of, so far......I did put more in my later volumes, but for Volume One, we only have one track and Track Seventeen is it.

Although I've never posted much about blues piano, I have several favorites artists and several favorite tunes.  The one I decided to put on here is not from my favorite blues piano player, but it is one of my favorite blues performances.  It is such an exuberant performance that it just had to be included.  It's from the first volume of the Antone's Tenth Anniversary Anthology (the same album that featured Otis Rush's "Double Trouble," Track Nine) and it's from Pinetop Perkins and friends playing the old favorite, "Caldonia."

Perkins started out as a guitarist, but was involved in a fight with a chorus girl, who injured his left arm with a knife.  He moved to piano and in his early years backed Robert Nighthawk and Sonny Boy Williamson on their respective radio shows, and later backed a young Earl Hooker.  He appeared on hundreds of recordings and replaced Otis Spann in Muddy Waters' band in the late 60's, serving with Waters for ten years.

As busy as he was over most of his career, he didn't record his own album until the late 80's.  He was fairly prolific from that point, however, and remained active until he passed away in March of 2011 at age 97  There's a nice DVD that covers his career called Born In The Honey that is worth finding (there's also a live CD included in the package).

For this rousing cover of "Caldonia," Perkins is joined by guitarists Luther Tucker and Jimmie Vaughan and harmonica master James Cotton.  It's such an easy, freewheeling performance that you can't help but smile while you listen.  Enjoy!







Friday, November 24, 2017

A Blues Fix Mix CD - Volume One, Track Sixteen

This week's selection is a bit different from the others.  When I started putting this together several years ago, I decided that I wanted to include a few songs that were maybe a little bit off the beaten path as far as blues goes, but they had to be tunes that I enjoyed listening to regularly.  During the first incarnation of the blues fix mix tape, I was really listening to Texas/West Coast blues.  Most of the guitarist who made up the West Coast blues sound came from Texas......T-Bone Walker, of course, along with Pee Wee Crayton, Lowell Fulson, and many others.

Guitarist Roy Gaines was also in that group, though maybe a generation behind.  Gaines was born in Texas in 1933 and actually backed Walker as a teenager in the Houston area.  He later moved to Los Angeles, and also served as a session guitarist for acts like Bobby "Blue" Bland, Junior Parker, Big Mama Thornton, and Chuck Willis.  He also worked in the bands of Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, the Supremes, the Everly Brothers, Stevie Wonder, and Gladys Knight, and was in demand as a session guitarist.

Gaines worked closely with T-Bone Walker over the years, he was even billed as "T-Bone Jr." and occasionally teamed up with the legendary guitarist in the years before he passed away.  One can hear a lot of T-Bone Walker in Gaines' guitar playing, which can also be said of many other guitarists, but Gaines took what he learned from the older guitarist and built upon it.  Over the years, he has recorded solo albums and is a fine vocalist in addtion to his guitar skills.

One of my favorite releases of Gaines' is his tribute to T-Bone Walker, 1999's I Got The T-Bone Walker Blues on Groove Note Records.  The album consists of eleven songs, nine T-Bone Walker songs (two versions of "Stormy Monday"), plus one track that's a bit of an variation.....Hank Williams' "Honky Tonk Blues."

People who might scratch their heads at the inclusion of this tune on a T-Bone Walker tribute album don't really know about the contributions Hank Williams made to not just the country music genre, but multiple other genres, including country, blues, rock, rockabilly, folk, and gospel music.  He was one of the most influential singers, songwriters, and performers in modern American music.  Most of the great Texas-born guitarist were exposed to a variety of musical styles while growing up in the Lone Star State, but blues and country were probably the most prevalent, and Hank Williams was probably one of the most heard by a lot of blues men during the 40's and 50's.

Gaines does a magnificent job with this classic country tune, one of his personal favorites that he'd always wanted to record.  His guitar work is fine and his vocals are equally effective, but what really raises this song above the norm is the presence of Alejandro Velasco on pedal steel and the fiddles.    Gaines' "Honky Tonk Blues" mixes blues, country, and swing to excellent effect.  Just check it out below......


For good measure, here's Williams' original version.....





Friday, November 17, 2017

A Blues Fix Mix CD - Volume One, Track Fifteen

One of the first Mississippi blues musicians I was familiar with was James "Son" Thomas.  I'm not sure exactly how I knew about him, but I remember seeing his name in the Jackson, MS newspaper, The Clarion-Ledger, maybe in one of the occasional articles they featured on blues in the early/mid 80's.  It seems like there was a mini-documentary about Thomas on Mississippi's public television station, but from what I remember, it talked a lot more about his artwork, which was mostly sculptures he made from the clay he dug from the banks of the Yazoo River.  His artwork was mostly skulls (often with real teeth), some of which can be seen in various blues museums in the Delta.  I do know that I was more familiar with that aspect of his life than I was with his musical talents at that time.

Around 1990 or 1991, my future wife and I went to the Delta Blues Festival in Greenville, MS.  One of the things I remember, other than the fact that there were tents set up by fans all in front of the stage that made it difficult to see the performers (a tradition I wasn't aware of at the time), was Thomas's appearance on the main stage.  Though I couldn't really see anything other than the top of his hat, I was able to hear him, along with harmonica player Walter Liniger, who accompanied Thomas often during the latter part of his career.  Though it was just the two of them on that big stage, Thomas commanded a lot of attention and the audience was mostly silent during his performance.

That was the only time I got to see him....Thomas died in the summer of 1993 after suffering a stroke.  For a long time, it was hard to find any of his music......I was into cassettes at that time and it was getting harder for find new releases on cassette, especially blues.  Finally, in 1998, Evidence Records released a collection of some of Thomas's 80's recordings.  Beefsteak Blues was a mix of live and studio recordings with Thomas doing a few of his own songs and several blues classics from others.  It served as a great introduction to his music and I still listen to it regularly.

The title track, "Beefsteak Blues," really grabbed me when I first heard it.  When I heard it, I was driving around in the northern part of my work district across a long, lonely piece of flat land that really favored the Mississippi Delta.  The sun was setting and it was a relatively clear, but humid, day.



The sound of Thomas' somber voice and his sparse guitar work was a perfect backdrop to that scene and the lyrics......well, what red-blooded American male wouldn't want the things he is asking for in the first verse??!!!  In fact, when Thomas died, rocker John Fogerty paid for his headstone and put that first verse on the back.



Thomas' son Pat continues his tradition as a musician.....and an artist and sculptor.  He's recorded for Broke & Hungry Records (recording a few of his dad's songs) and appeared in one of the more entertaining segments of the documentary, M for Mississippi, playing guitar at his father's grave.


Your Blues Fix Mix CD (Volume One) to date......

Track 1:  "Cold Women With Warm Hearts," Magic Slim & the Teardrops
Track 2:  "Son of Juke," Billy Branch
Track 3:  "Feel Like Blowing My Horn," Robert Lockwood, Jr.
Track 4:  "Big Boy Now," Big Jack Johnson
Track 5:  "Blues Man," B.B. King
Track 6"  "Four Cars Running," Larry Garner
Track 7:  "Cadillac Blues," Johnnie Bassett & the Blues Insurgents
Track 8:  "Hard Time Killin' Floor Blues," Skip James
Track 9:  "Double Trouble" (Live), Otis Rush
Track 10:  "She Caught The Katy And Left Me A Mule To Ride," Taj Mahal
Track 11:  "Give Me Back My Wig," Luther Allison
Track 12:  "Garbage Man," Bernard Allison
Track 13:  "Walking By Myself," Jimmy Rogers
Track 14:  "Fast Train," Bobby Parker
Track 15:  "Beefsteak Blues," James "Son" Thomas