Friday, September 16, 2011
YouTube Blues #2 - Scenes from the American Folk Blues Festival
on this blog, Walker was an innovator of his own, taking the electrification of the guitar, and expanding the possibilities and potential of the instrument to places previously unimagined, and influencing a boatload of guitarists (B. B. King, Albert King, Jimi Hendrix, SRV, and Eric Clapton) in the process. As you can see from the video, Walker held his guitar at nearly a 90 degree angle from his body when he played.....something you probably wouldn't really understand unless you'd seen him do it. While there are several videos of Walker on YouTube, this one, also from the festival, is one of my favorites because you really get the opportunity to see Walker play guitar as only he did it. If you've followed FBF for awhile, you've seen this one, but it's good enough to take a second look.
here. Here's Rush, introduced by Roosevelt Sykes, playing "I Can't Quit You Baby."
A couple more before we go......Skip James has been covered pretty extensively here at FBF. He also ventured overseas to the festival in the mid 60's. James' version of the blues is the most stark and haunting you will hear. This is a quick (under two minutes) version of "Crow Jane." This is from the third volume of the American Folk Blues series, which features more acoustic artists than the previous two volumes.
Here's Sonny Boy Williamson (Rice Miller) playing "Nine Below Zero," backed by quite a band, which includes the great Otis Spann on piano, Matt "Guitar" Murphy on guitar, Willie Dixon manning the bass, and Billy Stepney on drums. The band is introduced by Memphis Slim, piano man extraordinaire, one of the musicians who ended up relocating in France. He enjoyed quite a bit of success, and remained there for the rest of his life with the occasional trip back to the states.
The first volume of the series opens with this downhome track featuring Shakey Jake Harris singing "Call Me When You Need Me." Harris played harmonica and was part of the Chicago Blues scene in the 50's and 60's. He was also Magic Sam's uncle and appeared on several of Sam's early recordings, with Sam returning the favor by appearing on several of Shakey Jake's singles. You're familiar with the fellow backing Harris on guitar. He sure makes it look easy, doesn't he?
four DVDs available right now, capturing the best of the festival throughout the 60's, featuring these artists and many, many others, like Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Buddy Guy, Magic Sam, Earl Hooker, John Lee Hooker, Memphis Slim, Bukka White, Koko Taylor, Roosevelt Sykes, Big Joe Turner, and many others. If you like the blues at all, you will absolutely have to have this set. There are also some out-of-print CDs with festival performances floating around out there, too.
The American Folk Blues Festival continued on a nearly annual basis from 1962 until 1972. After eight years, it resumed in 1980 and continued until l985. There's also some YouTube footage of the 1982 festival (which I don't think is out on DVD yet). As we close for the week, enjoy this clip of the Sons of Blues playing Little Walter's "Juke." The SOB.'s were one of the newer bands at the time, and featured Billy Branch on harmonica and the awesome Lurrie Bell on guitar. Now the band is booked as Billy Branch and the Sons of Blues. Bell and later guitarist Carl Weathersby have long since departed. A different version of the group (only drummer Moses Rutues is still with the group) continues to back Branch on the road.
One more thing before we go......if you're in the Phoenix area this weekend and itching to hear some great blues, harmonica player, producer, and radio show host (KJZZ's Those Lowdown Blues) Bob Corritore's club, The Rhythm Room, is celebrating its 20th Anniversary with an incredible weekend of blues. Just check out the list of prestigious guests that will be helping Bob celebrate for three solid days.