Here we are again, revisiting one of FBF's oldest topics, dating back to the pre-blog days when I used to email songs to my friends every Friday morning. This week, we will look at four artists, one that hails back to days of yore (Something Old), a relative newcomer to the genre or a new release (Something New), a blues artist taking a song from another genre, or vice versa (Something Borrowed), and finally, an artist who, to me is the essence and epitome of the Blues (Something Blue). Let's get started, shall we......
For Something Old, here's Son House. Recently, I've been reading Richard Shade Gardner's Finding Son House, the story of Gardner's quest to meet the Delta Blues legend. It's a very interesting read and Gardner fills in a gap in House's history that few people knew about. House's force of nature voice and guitar inspired numerous Delta Blues artists over the years......Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, and all the guitarists and performers who were influenced by them. House's story is worth a full post in itself (I promise to do that soon), the incredible early recordings with Paramount, the Library of Congress recordings, his constant struggles with the church and the juke joint, his disappearance and rediscovery, and his later years. Gardner's book gives us a glimpse of the latter period, and was very entertaining, so check it out. To get you in the mood, here's House singing "Walkin' Blues," a song that's associated with his protege' Robert Johnson, but it originated with House. It has been covered by dozens of subsequent artists over the years since House originally recorded it in 1930. No one has come close to House's rendition so far, however.
For Something New, check out Clarence "The Blues Man" Turner, a rising star on the Blues scene who is based in the DC area. He grew up listening to his dad's record collection, which included Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf, and became a lifelong fan at the age of eight. As a teenager, he played the blues, took a bit of time away from the music, but returned with a vengeance and has been impressing fans ever since in festivals across the country. He sings, plays guitar, bass, and drums, but his true calling is guitar. His music is largely traditional blues, but also has traces of rock, soul, jazz, and swing mixed in. He finished in the Top Ten at the 23rd IBC in 2007 and recently released his latest CD, The Caster Blaster, which every blues fan should have in their collection. Here's a sample.....a tune that all of us can relate to. You definitely need to check this guy out.
For Something Borrowed, I give you Memphis blues icon Preston Shannon. Shannon was born in Olive Branch, MS in 1947, but his family relocated to Memphis when he was a kid and he developed a love for the blues early on. He played part-time while working at a hardware company, but went full-time after securing a gig in Shirley Brown's backing band. He's been a mainstay of the city's blues scene since the early 90's, leading his own band. He recorded three albums for Rounder's Bullseye Blues subsidiary during the 90's......three excellent albums that showcased his soulful vocals and powerful guitar that shows the influence of Albert and B.B. King. In the early 90's, I was on Beale Street and walked into B.B. King's Blues Club when I heard some powerhouse blues. It was Mr. Shannon and his band tearing into Bobby Womack's "Lookin' For A Love." Shannon plays some great original blues and soul and he also is a very creative interpreter of popular blues and soul. One of his crowd favorites for many years has been his terrific version of Prince's "Purple Rain".......yes, that's right......Prince's "Purple Rain." In Shannon's hands, it becomes a stripped-down soul burner. Check it out below and check out Mr. Shannon if you're ever in Memphis near B.B. King's Blues Club.
For Something Blue, here's the late, great (never thought I'd type that) B.B. King, who would have turned 90 years old on Wednesday. Also on Wednesday, the city of Memphis renamed the portion of the intersection at Third and Beale Street B.B. King Boulevard, and the B.B. King Museum in Indianola also scheduled some events on his birthday, including allowing visitors the opportunity to view new footage of B.B. King performing in studio. Geffen Records and Universal Music are reissuing several of King's earliest albums that haven't been available for years, including several on vinyl. Coolest of all, in next year's Mississippi Blues Marathon, which is held in Jackson, MS each winter, all participants will receive a medal with King playing guitar. In addition, there have been a couple of multi-disc releases that focus on King's 50's - early 60's recordings that are available at bargain prices that will give newer fans a full account of this legend's early ground-breaking recordings.