From The Bob Corritorie Blues newsletter:
November 5, 2008
- Willie “Big Eyes” Smith Arizona Dates This Weekend: Though most famous for being the long-time drummer in the Muddy Waters Blues Band, Willie “Big Eyes” Smith has been making quite a name for himself over the last few years as a singer/harmonica player/frontman. Willie “Big Eyes” Smith's first instrument was harmonica, and he recorded sides behind Bo Diddley and Arthur "Big Boy" Spires during the 1950s. Willie played drums with Muddy Waters through portions of the 60s and 70s. After leaving Muddy's band, he worked for years in an outfit called The Legendary Blues Band, where he began to emerge as a vocalist. In recent years, he has released two straight-ahead Chicago blues records as a harmonica player, fWay Back on the HighTone record label (released in 2006), and most recently Born In Arkansas on the Big Eye label. Willie makes two appearances in Arizona this weekend: Friday, November 7, 2008 at Old Town Artisans in Tucson for Jonathan Holden's Rhythm And Roots Concert Series, and Saturday, November 8, 2008 at the Rhythm Room in Phoenix. Willie brings with him a great Chicago blues band that includes "Little Frank" Krakowski on guitar, Bob Stroger on bass, and Eddie Kobek on drums. The Rhythm Room is located at 1019 E. Indian School Road, Phoenix, AZ 85014. Doors open at 8pm, cover charge is $12. Rack Shack Barbeque will be available at these events. This night will be a patio smoking only event; no indoor smoking will be permitted.
- Robert Lockwood Article in new ABS Magazine: The late great Robert Lockwood, Jr. is remembered in the latest issue of ABS Magazine. The article, written by Jean-Luc Varbes reflects on the life of a man who can arguably be called one of the most influential figures in the blues. The article also uses a wide array of great historic photos, a few of which are from Bob Corritore’s archives. The Lockwood article was part of the magazine's feature on Mississippi down-home blues. Thanks to ABS Magazine for remembering this great man. To see more photos of Robert Lockwood, Jr. on BobCorritore.com, click here.
- Vanity Fair Possible Photo of Robert Johnson: It’s always wonderful when blues meets mainstream media. Vanity Fair recently posted an article delving into a mysterious photo that some believe to be a recently discovered shot of the rarely photographed Robert Johnson. (Only two confirmed photos of Johnson exist; with this one still having a question mark behind it.) Too bad that Robert Lockwood, Jr. isn’t around to make the final call on this one, but we wonder if anyone checked with Honeyboy Edwards (who also played with Johnson) to verify this. To see this controversial photo and the Vanity Fair article, click here.
- Electro Fi Releases Harmonica Collection from Hummel Archives: Harmonica ace Mark Hummel has created a niche in the blues world by combining harmonica legends into a series of concerts coined as “blowouts”. The Canadian Electro-Fi label has recently put out a collection of these shows over the years featuring some simply great performances. Mark Hummel’s Harmonica Blowouts Still Here and Gone (EFI-3410) is a two CD set that showcases the very best of Mark’s legendary “Harmonica Blowout” shows recorded live between 1993 – 2007. It features blues artists such as Magic Dick (J. Geils Band), Lee Oskar, Rick Estrin, William Clarke, Paul DeLay, Carey Bell, James Harman, Johnny Dyer, Sam Myers, Lazy Lester, Billy Boy Arnold, and Mark Hummel. Guitarists on this record include Rusty Zinn, Anson Funderburgh, Charles Wheal, and Junior Watson. Thanks, Mark, for sharing these gems with us.
- RIP Rudy Ray Moore 3/17/27-10/19/08: Rudy Ray Moore, also known as Dolemite, The Disco Godfather, Petey Wheatstraw, and The Human Tornado, passed away on October 19, 2008. He was 81. Best known as being a XXX-comedian, a blaxsploitation film star, and a precursor of rap, Rudy got his start as a blues recording artist, and made a number of great R&B recordings during the 50s and 60s, which would later be reissued on a wonderful collection on the Norton record label. Though Rudy is hard to classify, he always had one foot in the blues, and his beautiful, brash personality will be deeply missed.
- Midwest Trip Recap - Bob Riedy Reunion, Blues Blast Music Awards, Jazz Record Mart, Obama Rally: Kim and I began our trip by landing in Chicago. We met Chris James and Patrick Rynn at the airport, who had come from San Diego. Since we all had slightly different itineraries, we each rented our own vehicles before heading to Lake Geneva to do a mini-festival celebrating the 30-year anniversary of the Bob Riedy Blues Band. This show would include: original members of the Bob Riedy Blues Band, Jon Hiller, Mark Wydra, and Rick Knapp, as well as guest stars Sam Lay, Eddy Clearwater (a last minute special surprise), Gabe Butterfield (the son of Paul Butterfield), Chris James, Patrick Rynn, Eddie Kobek, and myself. Bob Riedy had arranged it where we would come in a few days earlier to check out the backline and rehearse. My function was both to be the harmonica player with Chris and Patrick, who performed the opening set each night, and to be a Carey Bell fill-in for the Bob Riedy Blues Band. I had many memorable nights watching this band and its special guests at Biddy Mulligan’s in Chicago during the 1970s. Though I had performed many times over the years with Sam Lay, this was my first time working with the legendary Eddy Clearwater. I had been a fan of Eddy’s music for many, many years, and Eddy seemed happy to be able to utilize my harmonica on songs like “Blue Over You”, “Pretty Baby”, "A Good Leavin' Alone", “I’m Ready”, and “Came Up The Hard Way”. We had three wonderful nights of playing and camaraderie on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Bob Riedy put together a truly memorable gathering, which included a display of rare photos, show posters, and the actual mandolin and guitar of the late Johnny Young (who used to play in the Bob Riedy Blues Band). Chris, Patrick, Eddie Kobek, and myself were very thankful to be included in this special event.
After the gig on Saturday, Kim and I drove to Chicago in preparation for Sunday’s Blues Blast Music Awards at Buddy Guy's Legends. This was the first year of these awards, which promises to be an annual event. Bob Kieser and Ann Caldwell from IllinoisBlues.com ran a very successful, well-organized show that was filled with hospitality. Performers included Magic Slim & The Teardrops, Lurrie Bell, Nick Moss & Gerry Hundt, Tim "Too Slim" Langford (from Too Slim and the Taildraggers), John Németh, Kilborn Alley Blues Band, Eden Brent, Sugar Ray Norcia, Teeny Tucker, and Gina Sicilia and Dave Gross, and the duo of Dave Riley and myself. The winners included The Holmes Brothers - State Of Grace for Best Contemporary Blues Recording, Lurrie Bell - Let's Talk About Love for Best Traditional Blues Recording, Nick Moss - "Mistakes from the Past" for Best Blues Song, Magic Slim & The Teardrops for Best Blues Band, Buddy Guy for Best Male Artist, Koko Taylor for Best Female Artist, John Németh - Magic Touch for Best New Artist Debut Recording, and John Németh for the Sean Costello Rising Star Award. Presenters included James Walker (primary reviewer for Blues Blast Magazine), Ben Cox (also a reviewer for Blues Blast Magazine), August "Lordy" Lord (writer for Chicago Blues Beat), Linda Cain (of Chicago Blues Guide), Eric Steiner (President of the Washington Blues Society), Bev Sites, and Matt Eimer (festival promoter for the Simply Blues Festival in Fort Madison, Iowa). Some of the celebrities in attendance were Ben Cox of Juke Joint Soul, Mark Thompson, Cindy and Cheryl from Chicago Blues Guide, Jerry Del Giudice from Blind Pig Records, Marty Salzman, manager of Magic Slim, Johnny Drummer (with whom I reminisced about seeing him as a featured vocalist with The Aces during the early 1970s), Lonnie Brooks (who I found out was a neighbor and good friend of Dave Riley’s), Kate Moss of Blue Bella Records, Pat Smillie, and others. Though Dave and I did not win in our nominated category, we were thankful for the honor of being part of this great event.
After Sunday night, all my scheduled performances were over; so on Monday, I made it a point to stop by to visit my dear friend and longtime mentor, Bob Koester at his famous record store, the Jazz Record Mart. Bob Koester and I visited for about an hour and a half, as I listened to him tell his pearls of wisdom and stories of his adventures in the music business. I had arranged to also meet Chris and Patrick, Bill Dahl, and Scott Dirks there, making it a great afternoon of story telling and record shopping. That night I took Kim to one of Chicago’s many excellent restaurants, Rhapsody, which was in walking distance of our hotel. The next night was the main reason for our extended stay; to attend the election night Obama rally at Grant Park. Please note that politics is not the focus of our newsletter; but I will say this: aside from my support of Obama, he was the only candidate to buy a full page ad in Living Blues Magazine, and has recently been the subject of numerous blues and R&B songs; also of note were his blues fundraisers at Rosa’s Lounge during his past campaigns. Rolling Stone Magazine reported in a candidate IPod playlist comparison that Barack had included Howlin' Wolf among his favorite music. As we piled into Grant Park, the joy and hopefulness was contagious among the quarter million people who were there. Since we did not have tickets to get up close, we were in an outlying area of the park, where we watched CNN on a Jumbotron (there were a number of screens scattered throughout the park). As we settled into our spot, we realized that we had landed in the exact area that was where at the 2006 Chicago Blues Festival, we had a wonderful backstage conversation with Robert Lockwood, Jr., and Kim and I reflected on this great man and wished he was still alive to see this moment. During the CNN announcements, commentator Roland Martin referenced Chicago Blues, and before Obama’s acceptance speech, one of the songs played was a version of "Sweet Home Chicago". Aside from all of these blues connections, it was great to be back in my hometown and be a part of this amazing moment in American history. We write this newsletter as we wait in the airport on Wednesday morning, ready to head back to Phoenix, after the most satisfying of trips.-Bob Corritore