Archive for the ‘Alan Balfour’ Category

Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee at The Other End, NYC 1970s
Photographer: Allan Tannenbaum

Author: Alan Balfour
Kindly put at disposal by the author.

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“The fifty-seven year history of recorded blues has witnessed many great partnerships; Leroy Carr and Scrapper Blackwell, Sleepy John Estes and Hammie Nixon, Georgia Tom and Tampa Red, Big Bill Broonzy and Jazz Gillum: men who were so intuitively aware of one another’s musical needs that they were not only the perfect team, but also created a complete fusion of feeling in their music. More contemporary examples have been Muddy Waters and Little Walter or BuddyGuy and Junior Wells but, famous as all these were, none have been more enduringly consistent, or given as much pleasure to so many, as have Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee during their forty year partnership.

The elder of the two, Sonny Terry, was born in Greenboro, Georgia on October 24, 1911, and was christened Saunders Terrell. When he was six his family moved to Rockingham, North Carolina where, at the age of eleven, he lost an eye during a children’s game. Five years later he was blinded in the other eye when a lump of iron was hurled at his face. This total blindness, coming as it did at a very impressionable age, caused him to become withdrawn, taking solace in “mocking” train and animal sounds on the cheap harmonica which he had learned to play as a child.”

CONTINUE READING HERE

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Author: Alan Balfour

(with kind permission of the author)

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“On Friday 26th June 1970 shortly after 10pm, in the somewhat incongruous setting of St. Pancras Town Hall’s fading Victorian splendour, Mississippi bluesman
Eddie “Son” House took the stage for the first date of an intensive four week tour of Britain. He had been before, with the 1967 American Folk Blues Festival, but this
occasion was more momentous as the headlines in the Melody Maker tried to impress on its readership: “Your last chance to see the Son”. There had been a
certain loss of dexterity since his 1967 tour, perhaps to be expected in a man of nearly 70, but what his fingers lacked in precise picking was more than compensated
for by his spine chilling voice and eerie slide playing. House’s opening concert performance was greeted with standing ovations; which was to be the case wherever
he played during those four weeks.”

CONTINUE READING HERE

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[Credits Photography: Jacques Demètre.
These photos on  the cover of Soul Bag was the first time that this photo had ever been seen and those on the back pages was the first printing in colour]

Author: Alan Balfour

Source: Soul Bag 94 (May-June 1983, pps 6-11, 19-21).  Reprinted in Jefferson 74 (Spring 1986 pps 3-6)
Kindly sent to me by Alan

For a discography, see: http://www.wirz.de/music/jamelmfrm.htm (compiled by Stefan Wirz)

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“Sixty five years ago, Elmore James was born in Richland, Mississippi, the illegitimate son of fifteen year old Leola Brooks. Twenty years ago he died in Chicago. Of his forty five years of life, only the last twelve brought him any measure of repute in his chosen profession of bluesman. His greatest acclamation was to come posthumously, from middle class whites who were culturally so far removed from Elmore’s world that any astonishment he might have felt when interviewed by two Frenchman in 1959 would surely have been as nothing, had he been able to experience the international adulation he received when it was too late for him to benefit.

Officialdom was not greatly concerned to document the childhood of rural black Americans of that era, and it is only thanks to some assiduous and painstaking research by Gayle Dean Wardlow and the late Mike Leadbitter that we know that Elmore James’s birth took place on January 27, 1918. Local rumour hinted that his father was a farmhand named Joe Willie James, who set up home with Leola Brooks shortly after the birth. Various “cousins” have recalled that the family moved along Mississippi’s 5l Highway from plantation to plantation – Lexington, Goodman, Durant, Pickens – seeking work. There is no reason to suppose that Elmore James’s early life was much different from that of his contemporaries, so from early childhood into adolescence he was probably working from sunup to sundown crop picking –  in the fields. Crucially, however, a distant cousin recalls that the boy was always passionately interested in making music, first with a broom wire strung on the shack – later picking out tunes on a home made – hyphen instrument that comprised a lard can with three strings. “

CONTINUE READING HERE

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Louisiana Red

Posted: December 19, 2011 in Alan Balfour, Louisiana Red

Author: Alan Balfour

Source : text sent by author

(THE BLUES COLLECTION, ISSUE 81, 1996)

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Louisiana Red has, from his earliest recording days, been a master of biting blues songs. He has also adapted the styles of such blues greats as Muddy Waters, Lightnin’ Hopkins and Jimmy Reed to critical acclaim and the approval of fellow musicians. Yet after more than 30 years’ sweat on the blues circuit widespread recognition of his work still eluded him.

CONTINUE READING HERE

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Author:  Alan Balfour

Source: document transmitted by A. Balfour to my attention

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“Otis Spann first recorded with Muddy Waters in 1953. If we discount an isolated 1949  Johnny Jones session this was Muddy’s first recording with a pianist since his Chess debut with Sunnyland Slim in 1947. The 23-year-old Otis Spann was to hold down the  piano stool in Waters’ equally lucky band in a fruitful and unique collaboration that lasted for the next seventeen years.

Originally from Jackson, Mississippi, where he was born on March 21, 1930 to Frank  Houston Spann and Josephine Erby, Otis Spann was of a younger generation than fellow pianists Sunnyland Slim, Roosevelt Sykes or Memphis Slim, but his early musical tutelage was very similar. In Spann’s case, he was inspired to play the piano at the age of eight by a local pianist, Friday Ford: “I think he was a genius and down to the present time before he died he taught me all I know. He used to take me and put me across his knee and tell me ‘The reason you right here at the piano, ’cause I’m trying to make you play,’ but I couldn’t ’cause I was too young and my fingers wasn’t developed”,1 he affectionately recalled in 1960.”

CONTINUE READING HERE

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