Welcome to the April, 2017, edition of BLUES JUNCTION.
It is the time of year we begin to turn our attention to the upcoming Doheny Blues Festival. This year Omega Events celebrates the 20th anniversary of staging this wonderful weekend of music. With this in mind, three of the artists, who will be appearing at the festival, have brand new or soon to be released albums, which are featured in this month’s Recommended Listening column.
New albums by Adrianna Marie and Her Roomful of All-Stars, along with a pair of great releases by the good folks at Delta Groove Music feature festival artists. They are the soon to be released CDs by Monster Mike Welch and Mike Ledbetter as well as the latest offering by John Primer and Bob Corritore.
Adrianna Marie’s album, Kingdom of Swing, receives a full review here in April as well. That record was produced by Duke Robillard, who is celebrating his 50th year in the music business. To commemorate this momentous achievement, Duke and his great band came out west and performed a seven stop California tour. One of those shows is reviewed here in the April edition of BLUES JUNCTION.
We also observe this month the 50th anniversary of the historic Stax/Volt European Tour. I thought it might be high time we put the Joe Arnold interview back on the top shelf. The tenor sax man is one of a handful of musicians who played on all of those dates who is still with us. If you haven’t read this interview yet, I urge you to take a few minutes and do so, as it is a terrific story.
It also gives me the opportunity to tell our readers that since this interview took place in the spring of 2013, Joe continues to be active and is going to be performing at the prestigious private prep school, Kent Denver High School, in the fashionable Cherry Hills suburb of the Mile High City later this month. If things go as planned, he will be making available the new album he recorded last year at Kid Andersen’s Greaseland Studios in San Jose with an all-star ensemble of first call, Bay Area based musicians at this event.
As is our April tradition, we celebrate the opening of the baseball season. With that in mind we offer two features I think even non-baseball fans will enjoy very much. These pieces are entitled, Baseball and Blues Music as well as one called Jackie Robinson and the Rites of Spring. Both of these are personal favorites of mine and I hope that they resonate with you as well.
We have two appreciations of musical titans who we lost last month. Steve Freund, who is a blues great in his own right, has some remembrances of James Cotton to share with our readers. I wrote a piece entitled Chuck Berry: The Enigmatic Mastermind of Rock & Roll. We lost Cotton on March 16th and Berry on the 18th of the month.
As we were getting ready to “publish” this month word came that the man who came to be known as Lonnie Brooks passed away at the age of 83. Lee Baker Jr. was born in Saint Landry Parish in Louisiana. Baker moved to Port Arthur, Texas, as a teenager and it was there where he first started making music for a living. He signed with the Goldband record label in nearby Lake Charles, Louisiana. He had regional hits such as Made in the Shade, The Crawl and Roll, Roll, Roll. All three of these tunes would gain some notoriety decades later, as they were covered by the Fabulous Thunderbirds.
In 1960, Baker moved to Chicago and dropped the Guitar Jr. nick name as Luther Johnson was already using that moniker. He adopted the stage name Lonnie Brooks. A wonderfully talented guitarist and vocalist, as well as songwriter, Brooks continued to make compelling blues music before launching a career in the blues-rock field where two of his sons ply their trade. Perhaps the best example of his approach to blues during his early Chicago period can be found on a Black Top release entitled Live at Pepper’s Lounge 1968. Lonnie Brooks died on April 1, 2017.
I would like to take a moment here to congratulate Rich Sherman and his Omega Events for producing one of the world’s leading blues festivals for the past 20 years. In the upcoming May edition of BLUES JUNCTION we will have some extended features and interviews with several of this year’s Doheny Blues Festival artists. In the up and down, topsy, turvy world of the live music scene, Sherman and company have not only survived, but thrived. We look forward to seeing many of our old friends and meeting new ones at the one of a kind Southern California resort town of Dana Point, California, for the 20th annual Doheny Blues Festival.
Remember that our Resistance is NOT Futile page remains an ongoing feature here at the JUNCTION until we can remove this interloper from the White House. Our nation can’t normalize this administration. To help clarify our position on this issue, I urge you to read a piece entitled Blues Music in the Age of Trump.
I look forward to hearing from you on this and anything else for that matter. As many of our loyal readers have found out, I do try and get back personally with all who write letters to the editor. Thanks for visiting our contacts page and dropping me a line.
Be well and be in touch.
- David Mac
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