Category Archives: Memphis Blues

Albert King’s album The Big Blues – “Had You Told It Like It Was

Albert King’s album The Big Blues – “Had You Told It Like It Was

The Big Blues Album by Albert King was originally released by King Records in 1962. On this album you’ll find a whole lot of great songs, like “I get Evil” or “This Morning”, but my favorite is “Had You Told It Like It Was”.

Debut album: The Big Blues

Most songs are composed by Albert King himself. The Big Blues was his first album and the only one before he signed with Stax Records, where he would record most albums in his career.

Had You Told it Like It Was

“Had You Told It Like It Was”, is a highly grooving song remarkable for the relaxing vocals and the laid back speech of Albert King. I never heard someone telling so relaxed that his girl was yelling at him, but Albert King does it easily! The backing vocals bring the context of this song so damn nice in place.

Photo By Grant Gouldon [CC BY-SA 2.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons

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Original 1970s B.B. King performance on the Medicine Ball Caravan

Original 1970s B.B. King performance on the Medicine Ball Caravan

In august 1970 a group of buses and trucks left the San Fransisco area for a cross-country journey. The tour was filmed by a French documentary called Medicine Ball Caravan. Along the trail artists like Alice Cooper and B.B. King flew in to make an appearance on stage. The Oakland Tribune called the trip ‘Woodstock on wheels’.

On the website Ultimate Classic Rock you will find a cool article about the Medicine Ball Caravan festival. But more interesting is the perfomance of B.B. King on this Festival.

“How Blue Can You Get” and ” Just A Little Bit of Love”

On the film made by French Television you see a bunch of trucks and people gathering around a stage and the king of blues performs “How Blue Can You Get” and ” Just A Little Bit of Love”.

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Song of the Day: Frank Stokes – “How Long”

Song of the Day: Frank Stokes –  “How Long”

He was very popular in Memphis in the early twentieth century and some see him as the father of the Memphis blues guitar style. He made fame alongside Dan Sane with his band the Beale Street Sheiks, but also as a solo artist. His last recording dated from 1929. In “How Long” Frank Stokes show his enormous guitar talent en soulful vocals.

Memhis Ragtime Guitar Blues Song

Frank Stokes played mostly ragtime guitar blues with his deep  forceful voice Frank knew how to reach people. You will recognise that in “How Long”. His perfect guitar melody gives this song a soft touch. On the other hand the lyrics are rhythmic and strong: I never never : baby I can’t see anymore, When you called me baby : how long how long,

photo credit: Beale Street via photopin (license)

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Song of The Day: B B King – Just a little bit of Love

Song of The Day: B B King – Just a little bit of Love

Recently passed away bluesman BB King lived on stage more than sixty years. He was featured in multiple documentaries, series, interviews and movies. It is hard to pick a favorite song of this great ambassador of the blues. This song above was recorded in the Village Gate in New York City in 1969. It is a mesmerising live performance, complete with sexy gospel singers and a brash brass section belting out “All I want is a little bit of love”. 

Live & Well album 1969

” Just A Little bit of Love”   is featured on the sixteenth studio album Live & Well of B. B. King released in 1969. This song has a great vibe. The soulful blues singing of B.B. is killing me and the backing vocals are legendary.

The bassline is like you’d expect en often see in B.B. King’s song full of Boogie. Through all that musical joy the King puts away some great solos.

OnWikipedia Producer Bill Szymczyk Ezplained the album’s title.

“We got together, what I consider to be, some of the best young blues musicians in the country and locked ourselves in ‘The Hit Factory‘ for two nights. The results of those two nights are the “well” side of this album.”

B.B._King_03Photo Credit: By Gorupdebesanez (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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Blues legend B.B. King has passed away: 3 B.B Albums you should listen

B.B._King_in_2009Photo credit feature picture: By Tom Beetz [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Blues legend B.B. King has passed away at age 89

Today the news came out that Blues legend B.B. King has passed away at age of 89. With his Memphis Blues B.B. King inspired a generation of guitarist. With his guitar Lucille he made brilliant solos, his voice was always deep and soulful. The bluesman dies after decades-long battle with diabetes. Another legend is gone.

B.B. King recorded since ‘Singin’ The Blues’ in 1956 more than 45 albums. My favorite B.B. King songs are listed in this small ode to the bluesman who made the blues accesible for everyone. Who doesn’t know his hit “The Thrill Is Gone” for example. His soulful solo’s made a deep impression on me. Even at an older age he kept performing cause B.B. was always on the road in some years even more than 342 days a year. It shows how dedicated B.B. was he once recalled “I never use that word, retire”.

Growing up at a plantation

B.B. grew up as a poor kid. He told in one of his interviews; “ I was born on a plantation, and things weren’t so good. We didn’t have any money. I never thought of the word ‘poor’ ’til I got to be a man, but when you live in a house that you can always peek out of and see what kind of day it is, you’re not doing so well. And your rest room is not inside the house”. According to Wikipedia, B.B. King at the age of 12 purchased his first guitar for $15.00, although another source indicates he was given his first guitar by Bukka White, his mother’s first cousin. Bukka inspired B. B. and was his mentor during the first years of his career. In 1946, King followed Bukka White to Memphis, Tennessee.

During his long career B. B. King always stayed busy recording en performing. The complete collection contains numerous albums. My favorite albums are listed right below.

1. Singing The Blues Album 1956

‘ Singing the Blues’  is B.B. King’s debut album of on the crown label. It was released in 1956 and you might know ‘Upsets me Baby’ the best. It was the highest charting single reaching #1 on the black singles chart. “Woke Up This Morgning” is a big band song, rhythmic,  boogie woogie and vocally very soulful. Besides the succesful release of his debut album, 1956 was also a record breaking year for the blues king with 342 concert bookings and three recording sessions.

2. Kingsize the twenty-fourth album

Another Album that’s worth listening is Kingsize released in 1977. A good grooving album that contains a combination of covers and own work. Especially the lyrics on this album always inspired me. Listen to songs like ‘It is Just a Matter of Time”, “Slow And Easy”, “Walking in the Sun” and “The Same Love That Made Me Laugh”. Also the cover of Preston Foster’s “Got My Mojo Working”, really feels nice. All though the Mojo Working song is covered by many musicians, B.B. knew how to bring a new dimension to the song.

3. Riding with the King with Eric Clapton

“Riding With The King” a collaboration with British Blues great Eric Clapton was released in 2000. It was their first collaborative album and won the 2000 Grammy Award for Best Traditional Blues Album. The main song ‘Riding with the King’ was a real hit, groovy, a bit raw but above all a very convincing song. Who would doubt that B.B. isn’t the King.

It is sad that another great legend has passed away. B.B. was one of the last mohicans of the old blues world, The last of the three Blues kings (Albert and Freddie are both dead). The Blues will always live.

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Blues around Beale street Memphis Willie Nix

Blues around Beale street Memphis Willie Nix

The Baker Shop Boogie by Willie Nix was recorded in the Memphis Sun Records studio in January 1953. Willie Nix was an innovative drummer and gifted lyricist as well as vocalist. Willie Nix had as a musician an integral part in Memphis’s Beale Street blues community during the late forties and early fifties. Willie’s Boogie is a true rhythm and Blues song, with a great harmonica interlude throughout the song. Nix really brings the groove and feel of this song into your living room, car or local bar.

From Tap dancer to Bluesman

photo credit: Saturday via photopin (license)

We know Willie Nix as a great drummer, singer and Harmonica player, but Willie didn’t start his career as a musician in his teenage years he was a tap dancer with the Rabbit Foot Minstrels. Nix was part of a famous minstrel family that became the home of many blues legends like Big Joe Williams, Brownie Mc Ghee, Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey.

Through the Minstrels Nix became part of the group musicians who performed at Beale Street. He met Sonny Boy Williamson and together with fellow bluesman Willie Love, Joe Willie Wilkins he performed throughout the deep South as the Four Aces. (not to be confused with the fifties pop group).

Willie Nix recording career

As a bandleader of solo musician Nix recorded and played in both Memphis and Chicago, and worked with the finest bluesmen in both cities, among them Junior Parker, B.B. King, Elmore James, Sonny Boy Williamson II, and Bobby Blue Bland. In the fifties he made a two year stop in prison. After his release from prison Nix moved back to Memphis and continued to be a local fixture in the blues community. He performed on and off until his death in 1991.

Willie Nix Memphis backing band

Willie Nix recorded Nervous Wreck in 1953 for Chance Records. His Backing band contained some of the greatest blues musicians around. Eddie Taylor on guitar, Sunnyland Slim on Piano honky tonking throughout the song. Snooky Pryor delivering a leading harmonica melody and Alfred Wallace bringin the steady drums.

Prison Bound Blues was probably sang most of Willie’s time in prison and describes prison time in a way you will only find back in blues songs. Early one morning,The blues came fallin’ down, Early one morning, The blues came fallin’ down, I was all locked up in jail, And prison bound.

allthough it is difficult to find recordings of Willie Nix around the internet or in your local recordstore, the music of Nix is absolutely worth listening. Like Joe Hill Louis, Nix’s style is truely a Memphis blues, recognisable for the rhythm, the up-tempo and the clear vocals.

Willie Nix – Prison Bound Blues

Willie Nix – Try Me One More Time

Willie Nix – Just One Mistake

Willie Nix, Truckin’ little woman

Willie Nix Lonesome Bedroom Blues (1951)

photo credit: Saturday via photopin (license)
Video Credits:I do not own the copyrights to these recordings. These videos are for historical and educational purposes.

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One Man Band Perfection Ben Prestage’ Blues music

One Man Band Perfection Ben Prestage’ blues music

Ben Prestage is a one man band musician from Indiantown Florida who can easily be compared to Memphis great Joe Hill Louis. Growing up in rural Florida, on a 14-mile-long dirt road, near the headwaters of the Everglades Ben was born to play the blues.

Ben Prestage Deep down in Florida

Florida blues music ben prestage pressphoto
Florida blues music ben prestage pressphoto

If Prestage wanted to go to a bar or possible every living thing it was 7 miles either direction to the nearest paved road, and when you got to pavement, you still weren’t near a town. It was panther, gator, and cottonmouth country.

If you want to do something out there in deep down Florida you get quickly to playing music. There was only one kind of music in the house. Whether it was being played on an instrument, or on a recording, it was Blues.

Playing Banjo music at a young age

Ben Prestage came from a musical family. Not only his mother and father made their mark, his grantparent too. He recalls: “One day though, in my early teens, I went to help a neighbor build a chicken-coop on his property. When we went inside to eat lunch, I asked him about a banjo I saw in the corner. He picked it up and I heard Bluegrass music for the first time”. From Bluegrass to Blues is a big step but the rural Florida swamp has some blues feeling over it. He walked out of Florida and went to Memphis to play that blues songs.

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