Category Archives: Robert Crumb

Maxwell street Chicago blues harpist Big John Wrencher

 

Maxwell street Chicago blues harpist Big John Wrencher

Big Joe Wrencher also known as “one arme John” was one of the best harmonica players of the Maxwell Street Market in Chicago.
Like Little Walter , Earl Hooker and Hound Dog Taylor , Wrencher was always around to play that Blues on Maxwell street with the boys. In 1958 Wrencher lost his left arm as a result of a car accident outside Memphis, Tennessee. His album Big John’s Boogie is one of my favorite!

Joe Wrencher originally from Mississippi travelled to St. Louis and Detroit before he settled in Chicago in the sixties. In Chicago Big Joe Wrencher became a regular at the Maxwell Street market, where he performed regularly. His performances at the Maxwell Street Market where featured on the Barrelhouse label recording Maxwell Street Alley Blues (1974).

Big John Wrencher – RUNNIN’ WILD
Steady boogie beat and bass… Grooving vocals

Boogie Chicago Blues from Maxwell Street

Big Joe Wrencher had a whole lot of boogie, in comparison to other Chicago blues musicians and that is what you will notice listening to his Songs. He had an innovative way of playing the blues with his powerful voice and strong boogie-style of harmonica playing.

Big Joe Wrencher back to Mississippi

Throughout his career Big Joe performed in juke joints and even went to Europe to play at some festivals. While playing around Europe and the US he kept returning to Maxwell Street. In 1977 He decided to return to Mississippi, In Mississippi Wrencher met with fellow bluesman in Wade Walton’s Barbershop in Clarksdale. Biog Joe Wrencher suddenly dropped dead from a heart attack at age 1954. His last bottle of whiskey is permanently ensconced on a shelf at Walton’s Barbershop.

Robert Crumb cover art

The Maxwell street alley Blues album was designed by blues enthusiast and illustrator Robert Crumb. Crumb made a cool graphic and cooler lettering for the cover art. Check the cover and work of Robert Crumb here.

Wade Walton’s Barbershop

Big John’s Boogie Album on Spotify

Big John Wrencher & Eddie Taylor ~ ”Telephone Blues’

Big John Wrencher – TROUBLE MAKIN’ WOMAN

Big John Wrencher – Rough tough boogie

Big John Wrencher – Maxwell street alley blues

Rubbin’ My Root – Big John Wrencher & His Maxwell Street Blues Boys

The Life and Times of Chicago’s Legendary Maxwell Street 1964

Find out more about the history of Maxwell Street by watching this documentary. a cool portrait of Chicago and Maxwell street in 1964.

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Blues Blog Robert Crumb

All along the watchtower
Princes kept the view
While all the women came and went
Barefoot servants, too

– All Along The Watchtower –

Last week I saw a band play Bob Dylan songs, most of all his blues songs, at the end for the last song a special guest  bass player entered the stage.  What happenend next was the most Apocalypse Now / freaked version of All Along the Watchtower. I already took a few beers but Bruno, rocked that bass, it was nice. Slapping crazy.

Heroes of the Blues

Later that night Bruno told me about Robert Crumb’s  Blues trading cards. Crumb has created several sets of trading cards. His full-color, pen & ink portraits of 36 early great blues singers and musicians is entitled “Heroes of the Blues Trading Cards”. In the fashion of baseball cards, it is really nice. If you like reading more about the painting process you will find it here.

Robert Crumb Heroes of the Blues
Robert Crumb Heroes of the Blues (photo Rutkowski)Blues Book

Blues by Robert Crumb

I last night I checked things out. Besides Blues musicians, Crumb also painted cards of Jazz- and Country artist. In 2006 Crumb collected the cards in a book entitled, “R. Crumb’s Heroes of Blues, Jazz and Country”, which included a 21-song CD of songs by many of those depicted in the trading cards. The collection includes musicians like:

  1. Frank Stokes
  2. Jaybird Coleman
  3. Blind Willie Johnson
  4. Scrapper Blackwell and Leroy Carr
  5. Blind Lemon Jefferson

Heroes of the Blues Cover

All Along The Watchtower – Jimi Hendrix

60 Minutes of All Along The Watchtower – Various Artist

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