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Saturday, April 7, 2007

Happy Easter

Happy Easter. A little early, but I am out of here. For some reason has been acting strangely. I can't post videos. From What I can figure out the problem is either with Blogger, or Youtube. So while they figure out whats going on, I am heading out. Enjoy your holiday, be safe, and see you next week.

Friday, April 6, 2007

A Brief History of the Blues

I am always on the look out for cool websites that tell the history of the blues. I found a nice short history on a Jazz Website all about . A Brief History of the blues does a great job of following the development of the blues and all of the branches of blues that followed. It is worth the look.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Thats the blues to Me

Dennis Cains great tribute song to Jimmy Pryor, and the blues. I play piano, and Jeff Baker plays bass. Special thanks to Don Erickson, Brooke Howard, and Vivid Pics for the great photos of all the local blues performers and lovers.


John Lennon - Yer Blues

John playing the blues. Eric Clapton and Keith Richards are playing with him. I think it is Mitch Mitchell on the drums. Yoko is sitting in a black bag that briefly shows up at the begining of the clip. It is a nice clip and certainly part of the British blues revival. However, I recall reading an interview that John Lennon gave in the 70s where he insists that he was making fun of British blues at the time. Still it is a good song.

Only a Bluesman Can Love the Cubs

Well it is another season and hope springs eternal for the fans of the Chicago Cubs. It is only the third game of the season and already we are loosing heart breakers. Is it too early too say wait till next year! My theory is that because the Cubs have been so bad for so long is the reason that Chicago has been a great blues town. Think about it, at the cubs were at their worse in the 50s, Chicago blues was at its best. The Cubs improved in the 60s, and the blues started to take a hit. Who can forget Electric Mud! So if the Cubs stay bad I look for a big comeback for the blues.

BTW, a little known fact about Jimmy Pryor. He played one year for the farm team of the Raleigh Clippers of the Negro League. I think it was probably around 1932-34.


Disney to Stay Away From Richards

It only gets better!!! Disney apparently wont allow Keith Richards to be on the publicity trail. I guess they don't like the idea of Richards, who plays Johnny Depp's dad in the film, snorting the remains of his father. This is the text from the LA Times. I would have used a link, but you need a pass to get into the web page.

Snorting a speedball of cocaine and dear old dad may be the stuff of rock 'n' roll legend but apparently it's not the sort of tale told to children at the Happiest Place on Earth.

Keith Richards' macabre remark about snorting a mixture of cocaine and the cremated remains of his deceased father may have amused music fans with its ghoulish sensibilities, but it caused a moment of alarm inside Walt Disney Studios, home to the movie marketing team behind the upcoming "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End."

Richards has a much-anticipated cameo as Teague Sparrow, father of Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp), in the hit franchise opening May 25. While drinking, womanizing and cannibalism may be comedic themes that course through the film, the real-life substance abuse and off-screen antics of "Pirates" stars are no laughing matters when it comes to marketing and publicizing one of the summer's biggest family films.

"When [a senior Disney publicist] forwarded the [Richards] story to me ... I thought, 'How are we going to spin this?' " Dennis Rice, Disney's senior vice president for publicity, said during a presentation to the media of the studio's upcoming films Wednesday morning.

As a result of Richards' remark, which was later discounted by his representatives as just a joke, it is likely that the rocker's appearances on the red carpet in support of the film will be curtailed.

"Keith won't be doing a lot of publicity for this movie," Rice added.
Gee ya think Keith won't be doing a lot of publicity for the movie! Man, you can't buy publicity like this! it is all over the blogisphere. I like how the Disney VP, thought "How are we going to spin this?" I mean is Keith running for office or something! I say let the old man go out there and be himself. Isn't the reason they choose him to play the father was because Johnny Depp was channelling Keith while playing the character????? .................developing!!:-P LOL

Otis Spann - T'Aint Nobody's Business If I Do

Otis is one of my heros. As I said in an earlier post, I was a big fan of Billy Powell, until I heard Otis and then I knew where Billy got all of his licks. Otis died way too young. He was only 40 years old when he died of liver failure in 1970.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Music Myspace page

Okay here is my new myspace page for the blues historian. I have some songs up and running already. Hopefully I will figure out how to make my page look better than it is right now, because it is not very slick! Not like my super cool blog:-) any advice to help me get this thing going is greatly appreciated.

A Blast From the Past

Just thought a nice reminder of the old days. This is the Hull Avenue Tap located near Grand View College in Des Monies Iowa. Back in February 1999 Me, Jimmy Pryor, and John "Woody" Wood. Started the Sunday Night Blues Showcase. Originally it was going to feature John Lukehart on Guitar, and a bass player. We couldn't find a bass player, so Woody suggested Scott Long. Scott and Woody were just starting a band called Fat Tuesday, and Woody said he was an alright guy. So, I said okay, and Luke said goodbye. Of course those of you in on the politics of the local music scene probably understand why, but to the rest of the "internets" lets just say there was bad blood between them. So Scott moved to guitar, and Jim Faar joined to play bass. We had a great run there until summer when the volume and bickering between the band forced an ugly split. Me and Jimmy moved the gig over to Razzmatazz while Scott and Woody moved to Carl's. Me and Jimmy lasted a couple weeks at Razzmatazz until we ran afoul of the law. Apparently the town the bar was located in, Urbandale Iowa, had a ban on dancing! I kid you not! It was like something out of footloose. So we packed up and moved back into town. Eventually we ended up at the Hull Ave one last time the a couple of years later, but it never had the magic of the first jam. However, Gary Smith still runs a show there on Sunday nights.


"Okay, it just a joke! I didn't snort pop!! " Of course that's what his press secretary says about Keith Richards snorting his fathers remains with a line of coke. Funny stuff:-D Sure, Sure, we believe you! Oh, well it was fun anyway.

Paramount Records Website

Above is a photo of the great Skip James taken in 1932. You can find this and other great pics at the Paramount Records website. Of course the record company is long gone, but the website tells the history of this Wisconsin based company, and keeps alive the stories of the great Jazz, and Blues recordings made there. I am certainly planing on my next trip to Wisconsin to see if there is anything left up in Grafton Wisconsin where some of these great blues hits were manufactured on 78s.

The website has not only photos and stories, but also sound and film files including Lomax's Land Where the Blues Began. I have always loved that film and book. I know that a few blues scholars have tried to shoot holes in Lomax's work for years, but I feel a lot of it stands up well. I will talk in detail about Lomax in a future post. However, this story is about the people who put together the paramount website. Alex Van Der Tuuk, (author of Paramounts Rise and Fall)and Pat and Angela Mack. It is obvious that this site is a labor of love built by people who love not only the blues, but jazz as well. If you get a chance spend a few hours perusing their website. you will be glad that you did.

Buddy Guy Interview

Here is a nice interview from Buddy Guy.
It is interesting to read about his influences, and his thought on playing the blues in a juke joint on the weekend for drinks, and picking cotton during the week. I have certainly had arguments in the past with fellow musicians about the lifestyles of the great bluesmen. To many people think that these guys live like rockstars, when the reality is that many of these guys had to work during the day to be able to play at night. Even today a handful of artists, like BB, or Buddy Guy have a life style anywhere near that of a rockstar. most of the professional blues players are playing every night and trying to make a living selling CDS. Not living the lifestyle of the rich and famous.

Bill Dye and The Hatchlings

finally a sort of local blues guy i know on youtube. I knew bill from when I played with John Paul and the Hellhounds. At the time he was the guitar player for Dan Doran. Dan was one of my heros and I have stolen most of my piano licks from him:-)

Part of Living Blues Article From SHSI

I found a small excerpt that I sent to the State Historical Society of Iowa from my Living Blues article. Most of it is mine, but the last two paragraphs are someone else. I didn't put the cat house sentence in there at all. someone must have read the hall of fame web page, and felt it needed to be in the story. I had put that in years ago, when Jimmy once told me that he played cat houses when he was five. However, over the years I realized he was just kidding me. Jimmy was always sly about his past. He would have a twinkle in his eye, and say something fun like that, and it would be hard to tell if he was kidding, or serious. I miss him a lot. we spent a lot of hours talking about life, the blues, and how things have changed from when he was a kid. If I can figure out how to change analogue tapes into digital I will make some MP3 of Jimmy available for you to listen to.

link to story

The article was mostly about Jimmy and his years growing up in Red Starr Virginia. Red Starr was a coal mining town that is still on the maps. I was checking it out on Google Earth one day!

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Artist of the Week

I have been tinkering with the youtube videos. If you look to the sidebar, towards the bottom of the page you will see four small pictures, and the words powered by google. those are youtube videos. If you click on them, then a small screen will show up at the top of the blog and show the video! Pretty slick!!! At first I had generic terms like blues, jazz, and soul, as the searches, but I was getting a hodge podge of videos, so I decieded to make a change and feature one artist a week. So our first artist of the week is muddy. enjoy the videos!


Keith Richards Snorts His Fathers Ashes!!!

I just had to link to this post about Keith Richards. At first I thought perhaps it was a mistake that he snorted the ashes, but as I read the story he actually snorted them on purpose!

Isn't it amazing what drugs will do to your common sense. I think I could list a dozen snarky comments about Keith, but I will let you do that yourself.

Iowa Jazz Championships. What about the Blues??

I see the high school Jazz competition is heating up in Des monies.
I was wondering what it would take to start something like that for the blues. I am sure we could do a small scale version of it with the blues societies. But what I am thinking of doing is putting together something with the schools just as the Jazz societies have set up. I think a school blues competition could help keep the blues alive, and build up future players and fans of the music. I also think it would create an opportunity for band and vocal students to work together.

Blues Music Awards

The BMA's are comming up. Dont know if any Iowans are up for anything, but you never know. Here is an article with more info

2007 Blues Music Awards
May 10, 2007
Cook Convention Center, downtown Memphis
Presented by The Blues Foundation

Music's highest honors for blues recognizes genre's full spectrum of artists

In a year that has already witnessed the passing of past Blues Music Awards recipients Ruth Brown, Jessie Mae Hemphill, Robert Lockwood, Jr., Sam Myers and Snooky Pryor, the nominee list for The Blues Foundation’s 2007 Blues Music Awards offers a mix of the genre’s pillars and prospects, and just about everything in between.

The 2007 Blues Music Awards ballot features timeless nominees like harpist Charlie Musselwhite, who garnered five nominations on the strength of his Delta Hardware release; drum legends and perennial fan favorites, Sam Carr, Sam Lay and Willie “Big Eyes” Smith; and "old school" names Big George Brock and Guitar Shorty, who have experienced a rejuvenation in recent years.

The most amazing story of 2007 is the six nominations racked up by Watermelon Slim as an individual and with his band the Workers. It is almost impossible to amass more than six nominations in a single year, but their NorthernBlues Records’ self-titled release struck a chord with the nominators as this former truck driver with a Masters degree in history, and his band, picked up song, album, band and entertainer nods, among the 25 album, artist and instrumentalist categories.

Link to article with full list of nominees on Blues Foundaton's news page:

Link to info on Blues Music Awards:

About the Blues Music Awards:
The 2007 show will follow the format of the sold-out and critically acclaimed shows of recent years which featured appearances and performances by more than 40 nominees in a dinner table setting in the Convention Center's new ballroom. Attendees are treated to a sit down dinner seated with the nominees and will enjoy unique artist performances and pairings only seen at the Blues Music Awards.

The event brings together Blues performers, industry representatives and fans from all over the world to celebrate the best in Blues recordings and performances from the previous year. Each year, the Foundation presents The Blues Music Awards to the artists selected by its members. They are universally recognized as the highest honor given to Blues artists. As always, a pre-party will immediately precede the Awards and feature the 2007 International Blues Challenge winners.

The 2006 Blues Music Awards will be aired on Viacom's BET J Network. Show dates are: April 10 at 4pm; April 24 at 4pm and May 8 at 4pm. Last year's show was filmed by Jazz Alley TV. Jazz Alley TV is seen in over 80 countries and is the longest running Blues and Jazz series on television.

The Blues Foundation
49 Union Avenue
Memphis, TN 38103-2492

Jay Sieleman, Executive Director
email: This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it

If you have BET you can watch last years show on cable. unfortunatly here in the hinterlands we dont have BET:-(


Monday, April 2, 2007

Mississippi Tourism

I know many think Mississippi is backwards, and I would tend to agree:-) But when it comes to tourism and the blues Mississippi is making money! Clarksdale, and Stoval's plantation have become destinations of European blues fans. The link above gives some more details about the plans for delta tourism. I personally have not made it down south yet, although Hal Reed did invite me down to see some of the old hill people this spring. I unfortunately couldn't get free from school to go, but maybe this summer.

I also found out that I am not the first Tom Gary to play the blues. I was looking at Eric's Blues dates on the Pre-war blues list, and I discovered my name!! I asked for more info on the list and here is what I got

Re: [pre-war-blues] GARRY, TOMMY [GARY] (hca/ADELPHI REC) b. 1910-0228, BROWNSVILLE, TN

Tom Gary (sic: although most Census spellings seem to be aural, anyway) was
enumerated for the 1920 Census at Civil District 9, Haywood County. He was aged
10, suggesting a birthdate in 1909 (the 1920 Census operated as of 1 January

He was living on Turnpike Road near its intersection with Fulton Road (State
Highway 87). Fulton Road runs west from just near Brownsville, to near the
border of Lauderdale County. The village of Turnpike is on State Highway 54,
just to the south of Fulton Road. Turnpike Road may have been what is now Shady
Rest Road. In that case, the next intersection would be Estes Lane (!).


----- Original Message -----
From: dhevans
Sent: Thursday, March 01, 2007 2:10 AM
Subject: Re: [pre-war-blues] GARRY, TOMMY [GARY] (hca/ADELPHI REC) b.
1910-0228, BROWNSVILLE, TN

Hammie Nixon named Tommy Gary as one of the harp players he influenced,
which shouldn¹t be surprising.

David Evans

On 2/28/07 10:50 AM, "Stefan Wirz" <wirz.hannover@...> wrote:

> from Steve LaVere's liner notes to Adelphi AD 1010 (1971, The Memphis
> Blues Again Vol. 2):
> "TOM GARY, who accompanies John [Estes] on the mouth harp on DROP DOWN
> MAMA, was born January 9 [sic], 1919 in Brownsville, Tennessee. He
> became acquainted with John while he was in his early teens and John was
> already well into adulthood. Tom did extensive 'rambling' both as a
> youth and later, after his wife's death in 1943, travelling through the
> Mississippi River corridor, from Chicago to the Gulf. He still regrets
> that he didn't take advantage of the opportunity to record with John
> years ago; his first recording with Estes was not until 1969, for
> 'Memphis Swamp Jam' [Blue Thumb BTS 6000]."

This is pretty darn cool. I know I am not related directly to him, but who knows what distance relative that we could share:-)


Blues Podcasts

I Know a lot of you listen to podcasts so anyone who knows of a good podcast be sure to contact me so we can post it. Here is a nice program from NPR. It is a short history of the blues type show with portions of tunes. I think it is mostly contemporay blues artists, but it is still a great show.

My friend Jimmy

I figure my first real post should be about my hero Jimmy Pryor. Jimmy was one of the great Pre-war Post-war bluesmen who ever called Iowa home. Jimmy played the blues starting sometime in the late 20s, and continued until his death last year. He started out working in the coal mines of West Virgina and then played in the coal camps with his band the Four Aces. Jimmy played Guitar, Piano and sang. He joined the army during WWII and became a truck driver for the Red Ball Express. Dodging German bullets and bombs he returned home. He eventually moved to Detroit where he formed the Jimmy Pryor Band. In 1960 looking for more excitement than what was happening in Detroit he was booked in the 24/7 Bilikin Theater located just north of downtown Des Monies on Center Street. Jimmy was booked for two weeks to replace Pee Wee Crayton who had moved on to LA. Jimmy's two week engagement lasted 40 years! In the 1970s during the dark ages of the blues Jimmy played country western music. His favorite club was the Pines on the far northside of Des Moines. He was beloved by the country music fans that they named him to the cowboy hall of fame, and called him the Midnite Cowboy. Jimmy returned to the blues full time in the 1990s. He started out with the Sunday night Showcase at the Hull Ave Tap with Tom Gary. He also helped form the band Fat Tuesday with Scott Long, and John Wood. For a couple of years Jimmy played with both Fat Tuesday, and the Tom Gary Blues Band. Eventually he played exclusively with Fat Tuesday, and enjoyed great success playing in blues festivals around the Midwest. The last gig that Jimmy performed at was at the historical building of Iowa. Jimmy was honored for being featured in Living Blues. Jimmy sat in with the Blues Instigators and sang a medley of his favorite songs.

New Begining

Hey Everyone, welcome to my new blog. This blog will combine history and blues, my two loves. I will continue to post updates on the yahoo news groups, but I would like to move some posts over here. This way I can get rid of spam in the main text. I do know that spam will get into the comments section, but I can live with that.

Sometimes politics will enter into to the discussion. In this day and age it is impossible to escape political idologies in almost areas of life. It seems that politicians have learned that to polorize the American people helps to keep them in power with cushy jobs paid for by special intrest. So from time to time I will comment on it. The old blog was dedicated to that, but this one I hope has much less of politics, and more history and blues.

I do know that for a small number of our Yahoo list, that anything I write about appears to them as liberal bias. I dont believe I spent 20K going to grad school to be political indoctrinated by the left. I know liberal bias, and I am nowhere near that political leaning. If anything I am a moderate that leans left. This comes from growing up in a union household, and a father who was a union steward. I saw the first hand benifits of belonging to a union, and I have always belonged to a union since my union job in 1986. That dosent mean I agree 100% with the leadership. I am my own man, but I do see the benifits of unionmembership. I will post more about this at a latter date.

I also plan to write about my days in Kansas City as a struggling bluesmusician, and my latter sucesses such as the Central Iowa Blues Society, and the Iowa Blues Hall of Fame. I promise that there will be more interesting topics and more variety than the old blog.