Saturday, September 02, 2006

PBS History Detectives to investigate historic blues label

The historic blues label, Paramount Records, will be featured on the PBS television show, "History Detectives." The show will air on most PBS stations on Sept. 4. Check your local listings for the broadcast time in your area.

From 1929 to 1932, the studio of Paramount Records was located in the Wisconsin Chair Factory in Grafton, Wisconsin. Some of the blues recorded and pressed by Paramount include big blues legends Skip James, Charley Patton, Son House, Louise Johnson, Ida Cox, King Solomon Hill, Big Bill Broonzy, and Blind Joe Reynolds. to name a few.

The History Detectives will investigate two metal masters that were used to press shellac records in the 1920s and 30s to determine their significance, especially as they relate to Paramount Records.

History Detectives Web site

ParamountHome Web site

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Web site offers free downloads from last Johnnie Johnson recording

Fans of the late, great Johnnie Johnson can download three songs, for free, from his last recording, "Johnnie Be Eighty! And Still Bad," from the Cousin Moe Music Web site ( Recorded about four months before his death on April 13, 2005, the CD features six original songs and can be purchased directly from the site.

Johnson, of course, played piano on many of Chuck Berry's seminal recordings from the early days of rock 'n roll. The free downloads coincide with the June 27 release date of the DVD for the Chuck Berry documentary, "Hail! Hail! Rock and Roll," which also includes performances from Johnson.

The Web site also features a newly posted interview with Johnnie's wife, Frances, held June 19. The free downloads will be available until July 8, Johnson's date of birth.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Pinetop Perkins hospitalized

According to his official Web site,, legendary piano man Pinetop Perkins was hospitalized in Austin, Texas on April 10, for internal bleeding caused by a stomach disorder. One day later, he seemed to be doing better, according to the Web site, which said Pinetop was "sitting up playing solitaire and flirting with the nurses."

As of April 12, Pinetop was moved from the ICU into a private room "where he continues to complain about not getting to eat any McDaniels - a sure sign of recovery!" The Web site states that Pinetop is expected to be released within a few days and is expected to resume touring in May.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Chicago bluesman Willie Kent loses battle to cancer

Bassist Willie Kent, a mainstay on the Chicago blues scene, died on March 2 after a battle with cancer, according to his Web site,

In an article written by Bill Dahl on, Kent and his band, the Gents, were "among the last of a dying breed around Chicago: a combo that intuitively knows the meaning of ensemble playing, rather than functioning as a generic backdrop for endless guitar solos."

Big Ray Stewart, who played with Kent for several years, called his friend "the godfather" of Chicago blues, according to The Associated Press.

"Willie Kent was the last traditional blues player in Chicago," Stewart said. "Any time you could find Willie Kent in the club, you could always find two things: a lot of lying and a lot of laughing."

Like many bluesmen, the Mississippi-born Kent moved to Chicago. By 1952, at age 16, he became a regular at clubs, backing legends including Little Walter, Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf, to name a few.

He also played with Jimmy Dawkins and Eddie Taylor before forming his own band, Willie Kent and the Gents, in the mid-1980s. For more than two decades, the band helped define the modern-day blues scene in Chicago. Appropriately, Kent won 10 W.C. Handy Awards for best blues instrumentalist, bass. Living Blues magazine also honored him six times with its critic's choice award for bass players.

He is survived by his wife of 49 years, Ruth; by nine children, numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren; and by a brother, Walter, of New York. Click here for the obituary.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Buddy Guy: The Kingpin

The latest issue of Rolling Stone magazine (Feb. 23) features an extensive feature on Buddy Guy called "The Kingpin." The article about the legendary Chicago blues guitarist brings readers up-to-date on the latest from Buddy, as well as a nice recap of his career.

Rich Cohen writes: "Though Buddy is nearing seventy, he spends more than half the year on the road. It's as if he's more comfortable on the road, as if moving is the only way he can stand still. On the road, the world is only road, a collection of rides and flights, the cities speeding past, faces going by, bubble wrap that you tear away to get to that pearl of a moment where you play. At home he is less at home, out of place in his suburban house south of the South Side. You sense his days here are precious and rare, like the life of a boxer between rounds. He sleeps late, drives fast, entertains, hangs out at Legends, spends afternoons in his garden, trying to grow vegetables that taste like the ones he used to eat in Louisiana as a boy."

Rolling Stone article on Buddy Guy

Sunday, February 05, 2006

B.B. King not ready for "farewell tour" yet

Despite reports to the contrary, B.B. King says he isn't ready to quit performing just yet.

"The people are printing these things and they didn't get permission to do it and no one asked me," King told The Associated Press in a recent phone interview.

According to the AP article, King's publicist, Jerry Digney, said the 80-year-old King would be embarking on an international farewell tour in March, starting with a U.S. tour starting in Chicago on Feb. 16.

Another King publicist, Jerry Brown, said the "Farewell Tour" does not mean this is a last chance to see the singer perform.

"This is probably the last all-in-one encompassing worldwide tour and when it's over there will be some one-off dates, but B.B. will tour North America for the most part," Brown said.

B.B. King interview by The Associated Press