“The Blues is a Healer” – so said John Lee Hooker who was born on 22nd August and whose song started off last night’s STAR BLUES show. For many folks, his music was the first they heard described as blues, even dark and moody. Carlos Santana found him working in San Francisco in the mid-80’s, gave him that song and the rest changed the course of blues since. His Vee-Jay recording of “Boom Boom” was also in to show what the Brits saw in him in the Sixties to fuel the blues boom.
We didn’t forget Debbie Davies either, her birthday was excuse (if one was needed) to go to her latest album “Holding Court” for a version of Duke Robillard’s “Fishnet”. The ladies were further represented by Jesse Mae Hemphill, suggested by Olga who herself did a cover of Memphis Minnie’s “What’s The Matter With The Mill”. Dani Wilde’s upcoming album is produced for Ruf records by legendary producer Mike Vernon. If our choice last night is typical this will be her best yet with a confident swagger to her vocals usually only found in the male of the species.
Vernon’s job in 1967 was to coax a performance from John Mayall and Mick Taylor in the songbook of the second Sonny Boy Williamson – you can take it from the “Classic” badge given to the Crusade album that he succeeded. More new music from Ben Prestage who ploughs the same furrow as Seasick Steve for a Johnny Cash song that is the gospel standard “Run On” in all but name.
This upcoming Friday it will have been twenty years since the helicopter crash that killed Stevie Ray Vaughan and several others – there’ll be tributes elsewhere but we chose instead to include two rarities off the SRV boxset that you won’t find anywhere else. I’ve been in print saying that if I want this sort of rock blues, Stevie is my first choice: no-one did it better. He helped raise the profile of our music, even if we got left with dozens and dozens of second-rate Strat players that think blues is an easy buck.
Piano came from Eddie Boyd in 1955 and from Bob Hall in 1998; we’ve done “Axel’s Wheel” before but it is a gloriously free piece of boogie woogie that never fails. Prestage did some gospel as did the Soul Stirrers with a 20-year old Sam Cooke on amazing lead vox. We also squeezed in Eric Bibb’s cover of a Blind Willie Johnson Song to mark another birthday.
Bank Holiday Monday inches ever closer and that means a black tee-shirt for JOURNEYMAN – a rambunctious ride through the darkest corners of my cd box with roots, rock, soul, reggae and even some blues. Starts at 7pm though we’ve got a STAR BLUES on Sunday before then. I’d be thrilled skinny if you’d like to come along – until then take care of yourselves and take care of those that take care of you