There's so much more that I would like to do, such as check out some live music, go to a few festivals, visit some historical sites, etc....... Unfortunately, it's hard to get away to do that like I used to. Most of the places and events are several hours away and when they are close by, it seems like other things come up that make it hard to do. Maybe some day..... In the meantime, I will continue to look at some great recordings from the past and present, treat you to some nice audio and video clips, look at legendary artists and blues record labels of the past, and anything else related to the blues that catches my eye that particular week. I hope you will continue to stop by and see what's going on every Friday.
I don't know if you're familiar with the disc pictured on the left or not. It was released about fifteen years ago by a tiny label out of Oxford, MS called Midnight Creeper Records. Midnight Creeper was the brainchild of Peter Lee, the former editor of Living Blues magazine and also the founder of Fat Possum Records. The label only released three discs before shutting down operations, beginning with a gritty Blues/R&B disc from former Bobby Bland guitarist Ray Drew and a downhome Delta blues disc from John Weston. Both of these releases were excellent and well-done (though the Ray Drew release had some controversial songwriting credits), but their third release was arguably their best.
The Lost American Bluesmen consisted of five bluesmen (drummer Bill Warren, guitarists Frank "Little Sonny" Scott, Jimmie Lee Robinson, and Willie Hudson, and harmonica player Sleepy Otis Hunt), all of whom were hardworking sidemen in Chicago blues bands during the glory days of 1950's era Chicago Blues. Eventually, each of them soured on the music scene during the lean years for one reason or another, and walked away, seeking greener pastures. Scott and Robinson (who never really left the music scene, often assisting journalists and fans in tracking down hard-to-find musicians of the past)became cab drivers, Hunt and Warren became truck drivers, and Hudson took up painting and paper hanging.
Sleepy Otis Hunt brings a downhome vibe to the proceedings with his four tracks. During his earlier career in the 50's, he played harmonica for Freddy King, Eddie Taylor, and Elmore James. I really like the downhome vibe from his tracks. The opening cut, "Pick No More Cotton," benefits from drummer Bill Warren's lively playing, but Hunt also emulates Jimmy Reed very well on "Love's A Hurting Game."
Bill Warren was nearing 80 at the time of these recordings, but you would never have guessed it, based on his work on the skins. During his career, he made several recordings with Buddy Guy and Junior Wells (including their classic Hoodoo Man Blues), and also with Jimmy Reed. He also shows a nice gravelly vocal style on three tracks, including a remake of a tune he originally recorded in the early 60's, called "Riding In My New Jaguar."
|Frank "Little Sonny" Scott|
The youngster of the bunch, then in his mid 50's, guitarist Willie Hudson cut his musical teeth playing with Willie Mabon and, later, Buddy Guy. Hudson left Guy to play with his brothers in the Hudson Brothers Band, but soon fell on hard times and quit music to support his family. He fronts the group on two tracks, "Cry For Me" and "Fat Meat." These two tracks have more of a modern feel than the rest of the tracks.
|Jimmie Lee Robinson|
It was a nice comeback for all of these artists, and they were able to receive some attention that they never got during their earlier stint in the business. Robinson and Scott became heavily involved in the Save Maxwell Street coalition at the turn of the century, Robinson even contributing a theme song of sorts to the campaign. A couple of these artists have passed on in the waning years, and Robinson sadly took his own life in 2002, after a long, painful bout with cancer, but The Lost American Bluesmen stands as a strong testament to their musical abilities.
Midnight Creeper Records closed up shop soon after this release, but there are still copies of the disc out there. If you like your blues on the traditional side, this is an excellent choice.