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This Week on BU - The Keepers of the Flame, Part 2: Nick Perls & Yazoo Records (Hour 2)
Clean
February 20, 2018 09:06 AM PST
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Join us for another installment of our ongoing series, "The Keepers of the Flame," where we aim the spotlight on those individuals who've made extraordinary contributions to the world of the blues. This time we pay homage to Nick Perls, who founded Yazoo Records back in 1968. We’ll celebrate by cherry picking our way through the first half a dozen LPs he issued. A tribute to Nick Perls and Yazoo Records, on this episode of Blues Unlimited.

ABOUT THE IMAGES: Clockwise, from upper left: Yazoo Records Catalog, featuring Charley Patton; The first Yazoo LP; Photo taken on the day Nick Perls, Dick Waterman, and Phil Spiro met Son House, June 23, 1964, Rochester, NY (collection of Dick Waterman); A perennial Yazoo favorite, the “Heroes of the Blues” trading cards; illustrations by R. Crumb. Images courtesy of Stefan Wirz’s American Music website.

To hear this episode in its original full-fidelity high quality audio, it may be downloaded from Bandcamp at: http://tinyurl.com/y9vrz2p7 - BETTER YET, become an annual subscriber for only $27 a year and get INSTANT ACCESS to this episode and more than 100 others from our extensive archive at http://bluesunlimited.bandcamp.com/subscribe

This Week on BU - The Keepers of the Flame, Part 2: Nick Perls & Yazoo Records (Hour 1)
Clean
February 20, 2018 08:55 AM PST
itunes pic

Join us for another installment of our ongoing series, "The Keepers of the Flame," where we aim the spotlight on those individuals who've made extraordinary contributions to the world of the blues. This time we pay homage to Nick Perls, who founded Yazoo Records back in 1968. We’ll celebrate by cherry picking our way through the first half a dozen LPs he issued. A tribute to Nick Perls and Yazoo Records, on this episode of Blues Unlimited.

ABOUT THE IMAGES: Clockwise, from upper left: Yazoo Records Catalog, featuring Charley Patton; The first Yazoo LP; Photo taken on the day Nick Perls, Dick Waterman, and Phil Spiro met Son House, June 23, 1964, Rochester, NY (collection of Dick Waterman); A perennial Yazoo favorite, the “Heroes of the Blues” trading cards; illustrations by R. Crumb. Images courtesy of Stefan Wirz’s American Music website.

To hear this episode in its original full-fidelity high quality audio, it may be downloaded from Bandcamp at: http://tinyurl.com/ybn5ncb2 - BETTER YET, become an annual subscriber for only $27 a year and get INSTANT ACCESS to this episode and more than 100 others from our extensive archive at http://bluesunlimited.bandcamp.com/subscribe

Previously on BU - It Must've Been The Devil Goin' Up The Country: The Big Road Blues of David Evans (Hour 2)
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February 13, 2018 10:13 AM PST
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Join us as we aim the spotlight on the legendary field recordings of David Evans. An intrepid researcher, most of what he captured in the mid 60s and early 70s are fascinating documents of a time and place that otherwise might’ve been lost to history. It’s the field recordings of David Evans, on this episode of Blues Unlimited.

Pictured: Napoleon Strickland playing the fife while Othar Turner dances. Near Senatobia, Mississippi, 1970. Photo by David Evans. Background: Some of the LPs featuring field recordings made by David Evans. Courtesy of Stefan Wirz's American Music.

To hear this episode commercial free and in its original full-fidelity high quality audio, it may be downloaded from Bandcamp at: http://tinyurl.com/ydhncdlk

Previously on BU - It Must've Been The Devil Goin' Up The Country: The Big Road Blues of David Evans (Hour 1)
Clean
February 13, 2018 10:06 AM PST
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We need your support! Help us kick off 2018 with our best foot forward, helping to insure that we’re here for you every week, and in the years to come! A couple bucks a month is all it takes to earn our undying, eternal thanks! Here’s how you can help: http://tinyurl.com/gter36s

Join us as we aim the spotlight on the legendary field recordings of David Evans. An intrepid researcher, most of what he captured in the mid 60s and early 70s are fascinating documents of a time and place that otherwise might’ve been lost to history. It’s the field recordings of David Evans, on this episode of Blues Unlimited.

Pictured: Napoleon Strickland playing the fife while Othar Turner dances. Near Senatobia, Mississippi, 1970. Photo by David Evans. Background: Some of the LPs featuring field recordings made by David Evans. Courtesy of Stefan Wirz's American Music.

To hear this episode in its original full-fidelity high quality audio, it may be downloaded from Bandcamp at: http://tinyurl.com/y7ukdjl9

Gentle Giant of the Keyboards: The Piano Blues of Big Maceo (Hour 2)
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February 06, 2018 08:41 AM PST
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NOTE: Here’s one from the archives that’s another personal favorite. We recently remastered it, since some better sources became available on a few of the tracks since it was first published. Enjoy! --SBH

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With just 20 different 78s to his credit, recorded over the course of a decade, some might say that Big Maceo didn’t leave much behind in the way of a legacy. But what he did leave helped shape the future course of the blues in Chicago, and made an indelible impact on the world of piano.

It wasn’t until he was 36 — in the summer of 1941 — that he made his first recordings, having been born in Georgia, in 1905. One of 11 children, he was born in the town of Newnan, just to the south and west of Atlanta. At first the family farmed, but when he was a teenager, they moved closer to the city, where legend has it he first developed an interest in the piano. Not long afterwards, he moved to Detroit, following the trail of other family members who’d since moved there, looking for better work and a higher standard of living. If Maceo belonged to any piano tradition in Atlanta, it’s been forever lost to the misty fog of history, as it was a city known for guitar players, not piano technicians. Only 19 when he arrived in the Motor City, he would go on to “cut his teeth” at nightclubs, house parties, and barrelhouses in Detroit. By the time he arrived in Chicago, in 1941, he was a seasoned veteran.

Tampa Red, who acted as a talent scout and liaison for Lester Melrose — the de facto studio boss in Chicago during the 1930s and ‘40s — would help Maceo secure his first recording date. “Worried Life Blues,” based upon an old Sleepy John Estes composition, was the first tune committed to wax right out of the starting gate. Although it could rightly be regarded as one of the true universal classics of the blues, in a rather curious move, Bluebird held back on releasing it, saving it for his third 78 — if only to prove, once again, that record company executives don’t always “get it.”

Unfortunately, one of the songs Big Maceo recorded, “Tuff Luck Blues,” might very well be viewed as prophetic. With his recording career just getting underway, the pause button came down in a big way on August 1st, 1942, when the Petrillo Recording Ban started (allegedly over concerns about royalty payments to union musicians ). Fortunately, Maceo had cut a few sides just days before, but the overall effect was deleterious. He wouldn’t be back in a recording studio until February 1945, taking work as a railroad porter to make ends meet in the intervening years.

1945 saw Maceo blooming, however. Instead of just recording with Tampa Red, as he had in 1941 and 1942, he cut sessions with Big Bill Broonzy, John Lee “Sonny Boy” Williamson, and Jazz Gillum. His records, usually thoughtful and somewhat introspective, had more of rhythmic drive to them, bolstered by his left-hand bass work on the piano — something that came easily to Maceo, who was a natural southpaw.

In October 1945, he cut his “magnum opus,” an instrumental of such drive, passion, and keyboard wizardry, that almost all words to describe it seem inadequate. “Chicago Breakdown” was his shining moment of glory, the sum total of his powers; and with its storming right hand and intricately pounding bass runs — said to be a piece that only someone who was naturally left-handed could accomplish.

Unfortunately, Maceo would never again duplicate the magic that he achieved on “Chicago Breakdown.” Sometime during the summer of 1946, he suffered a stroke, which paralyzed him on his right side. Never again would he play with the authority he once did, in spite of several heartbreaking attempts.

Reports about his life are at once murky and somewhat contradictory, but through them, a picture emerges of a man who loved his drink, was plagued with ill health, and seemingly burned his candle at both ends when the opportunity presented itself. As his older brother Roy recounted to blues historian Mike Rowe (who named his definitive history of Chicago blues after the Big Maceo instrumental):

“They call him from New Orleans, ‘Be here tomorrow night...’ I don’t care what time of night it was, he’d get out of the bed and they pick him up in a car and take him down to New Orleans. They let him play all day and night too and then again. Let him lay down and rest awhile. Right back to Dayton or Detroit again and that’s how he had his stroke, on account of he didn’t rest enough.”

In the end, it seems, the fast-paced life of a musician simply overtook him. A final session for RCA Victor was held in 1947, with Eddie Boyd on piano. In spite of the fact that his smoky, understated vocals were as strong as ever, it just wasn’t the same, and he was dropped from the label. Another studio date came about in 1949 thanks to Art Rupe of Specialty, but again, we have Johnny Jones — perhaps his star pupil — on the keyboards instead. A year later more recordings were held, with husband and wife team John and Grace Brim, for the Fortune label. Although the effort was commendable, with James Watkins taking over the right hand piano work and Maceo handling the left, it made for a rather sad epitaph. One final session for Mercury, in early 1952 — still unissued all these years later — would be his last time in a recording studio. A little over a year later, this gentle giant of the keyboards would be forever silenced — just a month shy of his 48th birthday.

While his legacy might not be all that extensive, perhaps leaving us with an unfulfilled wish for there to be just a little bit more for us to enjoy, in the end, it was enough. Enough to bridge the gap from the work of earlier keyboard icons such as Leroy Carr and Walter Davis, and to pave the way for others, such as Johnny Jones and Otis Spann, who followed in his wake.

Special thanks to Mike Rowe, whose research proved crucial in piecing together Big Maceo's story.

Photo of Big Maceo courtesy of Blues Unlimited magazine #106, Feb/March 1974.

Don't forget to install the PodOmatic Podcast Player app for iOS so you can listen to Sleepy Boy Hawkins wherever you go! Details at http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/podomatic/id648258566?mt=8

Gentle Giant of the Keyboards: The Piano Blues of Big Maceo (Hour 1)
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February 06, 2018 08:22 AM PST
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DID YOU KNOW THAT IF YOU WERE A MEMBER OF THE BLUES UNLIMITED PREMIUM SUBSCRIPTION SERVICE, now at Bandcamp, you’d already have download access — in superb high quality audio — to this episode? For an annual fee of $27, you’ll have “first dibs” on every new episode we produce — before it’s available to anyone else! PLUS, get instant access to more than 120 episodes of Blues Unlimited — with more being added from our extensive archive all the time. It’s a bonus for our subscribers, as many episodes are simply NOT AVAILABLE FOR DOWNLOAD ANYWHERE ELSE! Every dollar goes to support this radio show and help keep it alive! More info at: http://bluesunlimited.bandcamp.com/subscribe

Join us for a tribute to keyboard legend Big Maceo Merriweather. Although his recorded legacy is not all that large, he left an indelible mark in the city of Chicago, leading the way for others, such as Johnny Jones and Otis Spann, to follow in his wake. A tribute to the gentle giant of the piano, Big Maceo, on this episode of Blues Unlimited.

Photo of Big Maceo courtesy of Blues Unlimited magazine #106, Feb/March 1974.

Don't forget to install the PodOmatic Podcast Player app for iOS so you can listen to Sleepy Boy Hawkins wherever you go! Details at http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/podomatic/id648258566?mt=8

The Sam Phillips Masters, Part 2: Chess & Checker (Hour 2)
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January 29, 2018 09:07 PM PST
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Join us as we continue our exploration of the blues recordings made by Sam Phillips. This time around, we’ll dig into the 78 masters he cut for the Chess brothers in Chicago. Great, rare, and classic performances from Jackie Brenston, Ike Turner, Rufus Thomas, the Howlin' Wolf, and more. It’s part two of the Sam Phillips Masters, on this episode of Blues Unlimited.

Pictured: The man at the controls, Sam Phillips; Inset: some of the releases he produced for the Chess brothers.

To hear this episode commercial free and in its original full-fidelity high quality audio, it may be downloaded from Bandcamp at: http://tinyurl.com/yckkbql9

The Sam Phillips Masters, Part 2: Chess & Checker (Hour 1)
Clean
January 29, 2018 09:01 PM PST
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We need your support! Help us kick off 2018 with our best foot forward, helping to insure that we’re here for you every week, and in the years to come! A couple bucks a month is all it takes to earn our undying, eternal thanks! Here’s how you can help: http://tinyurl.com/gter36s

Join us as we continue our exploration of the blues recordings made by Sam Phillips. This time around, we’ll dig into the 78 masters he cut for the Chess brothers in Chicago. Great, rare, and classic performances from Jackie Brenston, Ike Turner, Rufus Thomas, the Howlin' Wolf, and more. It’s part two of the Sam Phillips Masters, on this episode of Blues Unlimited.

Pictured: The man at the controls, Sam Phillips; Inset: some of the releases he produced for the Chess brothers.

To hear this episode in its original full-fidelity high quality audio, it may be downloaded from Bandcamp at: http://tinyurl.com/ycay3e5a

The Blues Unlimited 4th Annual Year in Review Special: Best of 2017 (Hour 2)
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January 23, 2018 09:59 AM PST
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ANNOUNCING THE BLUES UNLIMITED PREMIUM SUBSCRIPTION SERVICE, now at Bandcamp. For an annual fee of $27, you’ll have “first dibs” on every new episode we produce — before it’s available to anyone else! PLUS, get instant access to more than a hundred episodes of Blues Unlimited — all in high quality audio — with many episodes NOT AVAILABLE FOR DOWNLOAD ANYWHERE ELSE! Every dollar goes to support this radio show and help keep it alive! More info at: http://bluesunlimited.bandcamp.com/subscribe

Join us as we take a look back at some of our favorite moments from 2017. In a year filled with highlights, great blues, and a bunch of good music, we’ve hand picked a few standout segments for our 4th annual year in review special!

Pictured: Our distinctive logo comes from a rare poster for the 1977 Beale Street Music Festival.

Don't forget to install the PodOmatic Podcast Player app for iOS so you can listen to Sleepy Boy Hawkins wherever you go! Details at http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/podomatic/id648258566?mt=8

The Blues Unlimited 4th Annual Year in Review Special: Best of 2017 (Hour 1)
Clean
January 23, 2018 09:49 AM PST
itunes pic

ANNOUNCING THE BLUES UNLIMITED PREMIUM SUBSCRIPTION SERVICE, now at Bandcamp. For an annual fee of $27, you’ll have “first dibs” on every new episode we produce — before it’s available to anyone else! PLUS, get instant access to more than a hundred episodes of Blues Unlimited — all in high quality audio — with many episodes NOT AVAILABLE FOR DOWNLOAD ANYWHERE ELSE! Every dollar goes to support this radio show and help keep it alive! More info at: http://bluesunlimited.bandcamp.com/subscribe

Join us as we take a look back at some of our favorite moments from 2017. In a year filled with highlights, great blues, and a bunch of good music, we’ve hand picked a few standout segments for our 4th annual year in review special!

Pictured: Our distinctive logo comes from a rare poster for the 1977 Beale Street Music Festival.

Don't forget to install the PodOmatic Podcast Player app for iOS so you can listen to Sleepy Boy Hawkins wherever you go! Details at http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/podomatic/id648258566?mt=8

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