For newer blues fans, it may be hard to believe that in the 80's, there were very few blues labels out there...at least there were very few that had any sort of presence in mainstream record stores. By the time, I came on board, Alligator had pretty decent distribution in most of the stores that I frequented, which were of the mall record store variety for the most part.
The New Bluebloods was subtitled "The Next Generation of Chicago Blues." Up until this point, the only really young blues artist I had heard was Robert Cray, so the prospect of other younger blues artists sort of excited me. I looked at the back cover of the album and, nope, didn't know a single one of these artists. Nevertheless, I decided to buy it and see what it was about. It turned out to be a great decision, as we will hear over the next couple of weeks.
The first track was from a band called the Kinsey Report. Based in Gary, Indiana at the time, the band was fronted by guitarist/singer Donald Kinsey, who started out backing Albert King as a teenager, before leaving the blues to first form a hard rock band (White Lightnin') in the mid 70's. He eventually was drawn to reggae music, backing Bob Marley in the late 70's and Peter Tosh in the 80's, laying down a great guitar solo on Tosh's funky version of "Johnny B. Goode." In the mid 80's, Kinsey returned to the blues, where he joined guitarist Ron Prince and two other Kinsey brothers, drummer Kenneth and bass player Ralph, backing their father, respected bluesman Big Daddy Kinsey, appearing with him on the Rooster Blues release, Bad Situation, in 1984.
|The Kinsey Report|
Next up was Valerie Wellington, a powerhouse singer who moved from opera to the blues in her early 20's. She recorded a fine disc for Rooster Blues in 1984 (Million Dollar $ecret). Wellington also worked as an actress, playing blues singers Mamie Smith and Ma Rainey in various stage productions. In fact, many TV watchers might have seen Wellington on a WGN commercial promoting the Windy City in the mid/late 80's. She also played Big Maybelle in the Jerry Lee Lewis biopic, Great Balls of Fire, in 1989, performing "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On."
To date, that's the only recording currently available that Payton has done as a solo artist. He's battled some personal problems over the years and was supposed to record for Pointblank Records in the 90's, but that didn't work out, which is a shame because he's a great guitarist and singer. "All Your Affection Is Gone" was covered by Michael Burks on his I Smell Smoke CD and by Carl Weathersby on Weathersby's debut release, Don't Lay Your Blues On Me. Payton still performs occasionally at Kingston Mines in Chicago, but is one of those blues artists who deserves to be heard more than he is. Hopefully, he can get it together enough to make another run. It would be a nice story if it were to happen.
|The Sons of Blues/Chi-Town Hustlers|
The group included Williams, who sang and played bass, Branch on harmonica, Carl Weathersby on guitar, and Moses Rutues, Jr. on drums. All are still active on the Chicago scene today, still performing in various incarnations of each band from time to time.
|Gloria Hardiman & Prof. Eddie Lusk|
The group was pretty popular, touring throughout the states pretty regularly. Lusk eventually recorded a complete album for Delmark in 1989 (one of the label's first "new" recordings), with Karen Carroll replacing Hardiman. Unfortunately, Lusk was diagnosed with colon cancer, brought on by AIDS, and committed suicide by jumping into the Chicago River in August of 1992. Hardiman left Chicago, moving to Iowa, but is still active.
More on The New Bluebloods next week, when we look at the performers on Side Two.