October 5, 2010
- Going to The Biscuit: Time again for another spectacular trip to Helena, Arkansas to enjoy the Arkansas Blues and Heritage Festival, formerly known as the King Biscuit Blues Festival. The fest takes place October 7, 8, and 9 in the historic blues town of Helena. Arkansas. This year the festival celebrates it's 25th anniversary with a spectacular lineup that includes B.B. King, James Harman, Pinetop Perkins & Bob Margolin, Dr. John, Marcia Ball, Michael Burks, Mojo Buford, Bobby Rush, Charlie Musslewhite, Taj Mahal, Preston Shannon, Earnest "Guitar" Roy, John Hammond, Jimmy "Duck" Holmes, Walter "Wolfman" Washington, Anson Funderburgh & The Rockets, Big Jack Johnson, Smokin' Joe Kubek Band featuring B'Nois King, Willie "Big Eyes" Smith band featuring Hubert Sumlin, Bernie Pearl, Larry McCray, Bobby Parker, Johnny Billington, Spoonful Blues featuring Mississippi Spoonman, Sherrie Williams, and many more! For a full lineup and to see the festival website click here. Special thanks to the Sonny Boy Blues Society who's officers set up this wonderful lineup. We must never forget the now retired Jerry Pillow who selflessly booked the festival for years and made it the legendary festival it is today.
On Sunday, October 10th, Pinetop Perkins' annual homecoming celebration happens at Hopson’s Plantation in Clarksdale, Mississippi. There is a big commissary, which has been converted into a bar, and once again, this year the host band is Willie "Big Eyes" Smith, including many special guests such as Pinetop Perkins (of course), Bob Margolin, and many more. Special thanks to Patricia Morgan, who promotes this event each year. Pat is the manager of Pinetop Perkins and Willie "Big Eyes" Smith. Pat is a simply amazing woman, who, in addition to the demands of looking out for Pinetop, makes sure that this event is flawlessly organized; kudos to Pat.
- Bob Corritore Helena CD Release party this Saturday at the Biscuit! Each year as part of the Arkansas Blues and Heritage Festival, the Delta Cultural Center hosts a series of showcases at their annex located on the ground floor of the Miller Hotel, located at 223 Cherry Street. On Saturday, Oct 9, at 12:30pm Bob Corritore will have a release party for his new CD Harmonica Blues on the Delta Groove record label. The band will include Bob Margolin, Willie "Big Eyes" Smith, Bob Stroger, Bob Corritore and other special guests. They will perform a 75 minute set.There is no cover charge
- Bob Corritore / Harmonica Blues CD rises on the charts! Bob Corritore / Harmonica Blues on the Delta Groove label continues to receive great airplay support. It appears at #6 in this week's Roots Music Report Blues Charts (click here to see). We also just heard from Jim McGrath that Harmonica Blues rose to # 2 for September on the Living Blues Radio charts! Thanks for all the support! To see the growing number of great reviews for the CD click here .
- Big Pete Pearson Health Concerns. Per a recent posting by French blues journalist Jocelyn Richez on Blindman's Blues Forum: "I just got from his European agent, my friend Georges Lemaire, that just before he planned to come to Europe, Big Pete had a few tests and was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Fortunately, the cancer is at a very early stage, so chances are it can be cured. Still, Big Pete has to undergo an uninterrupted 45 days treatment that prevents him from coming over." Big Pete Pearson, who recently relocated from Phoenix, Arizona, to Maine, was unavailable for further comment. Prayers and best wishes to Big Pete for successful treatments.
- Amanda's Roller Coaster Recap. About 6 months ago I received a phone call from Amanda Taylor (Kim Wilson's wife). She told me of a dream she had the night before that she would have the greatest harmonica show ever at the Rhythm Room. She wanted to showcase different generations; from the surviving legendary inventors, to the generations that followed, all the way to some select up and coming harmonica greats. She wanted this to be an important event that people would travel from far away places to attend. She wanted to document the show through filming, photography and sound recordings. She wanted to include her friends and have it be a family reunion of sorts. Amanda had seen the Rhythm Room in a similar role in the past as she and Kim had participated in the filming and recording of Time Bring About A Change, A Floyd Dixon Celebration, as well as Kim Wilson's Smoking Joint live recording (Thank you to Clarke Rigsby who's talent and hard work make live recording at the Rhythm Room a positive and great sounding experience). I was so honored to get the call and without hesitation opened my calender as we started this huge undertaking.
Amanda's dream was realized last weekend with a 3 day show called Amanda's Roller Coaster, named after the brilliant Little Walter instrumental. The harmonica players included James Cotton, Billy Boy Arnold, Lazy Lester, Kim Wilson, Paul Oscher, James Harman, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Johnny Dyer, Bharath Rajakumar, Johnny Sansone, Jerry Portnoy, Al Blake, Dave Waldman, Bob Corritore, Troy Gonyea, RJ Mischo, Steve Marriner, Scott Dirks, Chef Denis Depoitre, Joe Filisko, and Vincent Bury. Fans came from all around the world and were treated to a simply unreal experience. The backing bands mostly alternated between Kim Wilson's All-Stars with Larry Taylor (bass) , Richard Innes (drums), Barrelhouse Chuck (piano), and / or Billy Flynn (guitar), Junior Watson (guitar), or the Fabulous Thunderbirds with Randy Bermudes (bass), Jason Moeller (drums), Jon Moeller (guitar), and Mike Keller (guitar). Some of the additional players were Hubert Sumlin (guitar) who guested on the James Cotton set, Laith Toma, who played guitar on Vincent Bury's set, Dave Riley, his son Dave Riley Jr., and Leon Blue, who played on my set, and an appearance by the Swedish band Trick Bag. Various combinations were used and the top notch backing always sounded fresh and accommodating to the artist featured
Prior to all this music was the frantic 6th month, full time preparation done by Amanda Taylor, who had never done anything like this before. She booked and contracted all the artists, made the film arrangements, booked flights and hotels, oversaw poster designs, had numerous meetings and conferences, interviewed on Sirius/XM Satellite radio(Thank you Bill Wax), and did everything that could possibly be done. She innately knew or soon discovered how all the resources would work together; having the Rhythm Room to do its part (Thanks to Rhythm Room GM Mona Watkins), leaning on her husband Kim Wilson as the musical glue needed to connect the various elements, seeking the advice of Mark Carpentieri, Rand Chortkoff, Rueben Williams, myself and others, and knowing that she could count on Clarke Rigsby to make the recording agenda work flawlessly. She and I talked on the phone numerous times a day, often for no other reason then focus and moral support.
So fast-forwarding to last week, Kim and Amanda came into Phoenix early and set up camp in a wonderful rental house. They hosted a wonderful Wednesday night casual dinner party with a small group of musicians and friends as a perfect warm up for the week. On Thursday the proceeding began with a pre-party at the Rhythm Room that I had set up to compliment Amanda's event and to provide an outlet for many of the harmonica players who had come into town but were not on the bill. Many people from far away places had come to Phoenix to celebrate the blues harmonica and this was a perfect way to kick off the proceedings. After a great set from the Nighthawks, Bill Tarsha opened a harmonica player's showcase with three masterful songs before an array of special guest harmonica players made their appearances. Everyone sounded great with Dennis Gruenling especially being a crowd pleaser. Kim and Amanda did not make it to this event as they were hosting another dinner party to greet the many artsits on the bill that had just come in that day.
On Friday the three days of Amanda's Roller Coaster officially began with non-stop greatness. From the opening notes of Vincent Bury (the first act) everyone knew they were in for something very special. Simply everyone brought their A game to the proceedings. Each performance had a unique craftsmanship and personality. The backing bands did an unimaginably good job in finding just the right groove behind each artist. What impressed me was the generational aspect with the originators being represented by Billy Boy Arnold, Jame Cotton, and Lazy Lester, to the next generation of veterans represented by Kim Wilson, Paul Oscher, Jerry Portnoy, James Harman and Al Blake, to the "coming of age' generation represented by RJ Mischo, Joe Filisko, Johnny Sansone, Dave Waldman, Scott Dirks, and myself, to the young-bloods represented by Bharath Rajakumar, Steve Marriner, and Vincent Bury. Chef Denis Depoitre (who had a wonderful set) was in a category of his own, being of the veteran generation with his fine harmonica work being little known outside of his community. Denis is best known as a supporter and booker of other harmonica players as well as a masterful chef. The audience was such a spectacular part of the event by showing a universal love for harmonica blues. The "hang aspect" was indescribable with every possible combination of people gathered in conversation. It should be mentioned that three prominent blues authors were in attendance: Scott Dirks (Blues With A Feeling: The Little Walter Story) Mark Hoffman (Moanin' At Midnight: The Life and Times of Howlin' Wolf) and Kim Field (Harmonica's, Harps, and Heavy Breathers: The History of the Harmonica and Its Role in American Music). Two blues label chiefs were in attendance: Mark Carpentieri of MC Records who will be releasing the CD next year, and Randy Chortkoff of Delta Groove Productions. Amanda looked stunningly beautiful, and wore a simply gorgeous outfit each of the three nights. She was glowing with love for all the harmonica players, and she was so happy to see her event flawlessly fall into place. So many photos were snapped. Rather then giving the event a play by play, I will just say that every part of every performance was magical.
In summary, Amanda conceptualized, strategized, and accomplished perhaps the greatest harmonica blues event that has ever been done. Looking ahead, there must be over 16 recorded hours of great performances to sort through, and some hard choices to try to fit the best into a CD. We will keep you posted on this process. Photos from this event will follow shortly. I will leave this by stating my gratitude to Amanda Taylor for accomplishing a modern miracle. Thank you Amanda.
To see a great example of the high quality at Amanda's Roller Coaster, please enjoy this video of Johnny Dyer with Kim Wilson & Junior Watson (Click here to see.)
- Dave Riley & Bob Corritore to open for Eric Bibb at Mesa Arts Center. On Friday, October 15th, Dave Riley and Bob Corritore will have the honor of opening for the masterful blues/singer/songwriter Eric Bibb at the at the Piper Repertory Theater at the Mesa Arts Center. One East Main Street, Mesa AZ 85201. For more information and to purchase tickets, click here.
- Muddy Waters & Sonny Boy Williamson II together on YouTube! Here is a wonderful video of Muddy singing his hit "Got My Mojo Working" with a great band including Sonny Boy Williamson II on harmonica, Otis Spann on piano, Matt "Guitar" Murphy, on guitar, Billy Stepney on drums, and Willie Dixon on the bass. This was filmed in 1963, in Germany for the American Folk Blues Festival. Click here to see.