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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

R.I.P. Willie Pinetop Perkins 1913-2011

I met Pinetop in 2006 on the Blues Cruise.
He was a very sweet man, and when he got on stage, it was as if he was 40 years old again, the voice, the piano playing, were all there as if he was in his prime.
Just 2 months ago he won a Grammy for his latest album with Willie Big Eyes Smith - "Joined at the Hip: Pinetop Perkins & Willie 'Big Eyes' Smith."

Here is one of the newspaper notices of his passing.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/music/music-news/8397186/Legendary-blues-musician-Pinetop-Perkins-dies-age-97.html

Monday, March 21, 2011

R.I.P. Big Jack Johnson - 1940-2011


Sad news from Bob Corritore (March 14, 2011) :

Big Jack Johnson passed away this morning at 6am in his hometown of Clarksdale, Mississippi after a long battle with heath issues. He was 70 years old.

Big Jack's inventive, energetic, Delta-rooted guitar, rich confident vocals, down home songwriting, and larger than life stage presence made him one of the most celebrated bluesmen of Mississippi. His long music career included much national and international touring, many amazing record releases, and a huge amount of praise and respect.

Big Jack was born in Lambert, Mississippi in the summer of 1940, and learned guitar from his father at age 13. He rose to prominence in the early 1960s working as a key member of the legendary Jelly Roll Kings, a champion blues band which also included Frank Frost and Sam Carr. Big Jack first appeared on record in the 1960s as the guitarist on two famous Frank Frost albums; Hey Boss Man on the Phillips International label (an offshoot of Sun Records) from 1962, and My Back Scratcher on Jewel from 1966.

In the late 1970s, Michael Frank debuted his Earwig Music label with The Jelly Roll Kings / Rockin' The Juke Joint Down which also was a recording debut for Big Jack's great vocals. Soon afterward, Big Jack Johnson would start a solo career for himself, independent of the Jelly Roll Kings. His solo debut album, Oil Man (Big Jack used to hold down a day gig delivering oil barrels in Mississippi) on the Earwig label was released in 1987. This led to additional CDs for Earwig, a nice run with M.C. Records, and additional recordings for Rooster Blues, P-Vine Records, Right Coast Recording, and Big Jack Music. There was also a nice Jelly Roll Kings reunion album called Off Yonder Wall that came out in 1997 on the Fat Possum Records. Additionally, Big Jack appeared in the influential 1992 documentary movie Deep Blues. He was a popular festival and club entertainer, a warm and hospitable person, and an amazing musician.

Big Jack Johnson was the last original member of the Jelly Roll Kings. His passing leaves a gap in the blues that will never again be filled. To see his amazing performance of "Catfish Blues" from the movie Deep Blues, click here. Thanks for all the great music Big Jack. You are loved!"

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I remember Big Jack visiting Israel and playing in a small club in Tel Aviv.

The host guitarist who invited him to Israel (and shall remain nameless) was trying his usual tricks of one-up-manship and trying to intimidate his guest, as he often does with various people he invites on stage.

Jack Johnson didn't even flinch, stood his ground, played and sang his solid Blues, and managed to push this rude host guitarist into the opposite corner of the stage with his no-bones Mississippi roots attitude. I think that this was the first time I saw anyone really stand up to this guy, and Jack Johnson gave a great show that night!