Tag Archives: Harmonica Blues

Detroit’s Electric Harmonica King Little Sonny

Detroit’s Electric Harmonica King Little Sonny


It was an instrumental song called “The Creeper Returns” that really raised my attention about the artist Little Sonny. Amazed by the grooving harmonica that takes you by the hand, I got more interested in this Detroit Bluesman and harmonica player. In the encyclopidias you read that around 1955 Little Sonny hopped on a bus and found himself in Detroit, in the middle of the blues. Little Sonny was born in Alabama but moved in 1953 to the Motor City.

New King of the Blues  Harmonica

In Detroit He  hung out with his namesake, Sonny Boy Williamson II who provided him with some harmonica tips, but it was his mother who gave him that name. In Detroit Little Sonny develepod his harmonica style alongside John Lee Hooker, Eddies Burns and Kirkland.

He worked in a car lot by day, in the night he would walk from bar to bar to make a little money taking pictures and hoping for a chance to sit in with the musicians onstage. After a session with Wasboard Sam he was offered a regular gig for three nights in the week by the club owner.

In 1970 Little Sonny released his, in my opinion best album “New King of the Blues Harmonica for Enterprise Records, a division of Stax Records.  This album contains some of the best blues Harmonica you will find. Compare it to Little Walter or Junior Wells, but you will notice it is down and out grooving City Blues.

Blues or Baseball

A Funny Fact about Little Sonny is that his main interest before the Blues was Baseball. On the website of Stax Records he recalls: “He played on sandlot teams in Alabama for a few years before moving to Detroit seventeen years ago. “I knew no baseball scout was going to see me as far back in the woods as I was. I didn’t really have aspirations of being a musician when I came to Detroit. But then, I saw Sonny Boy Williamson.”

Second Album for Stax Black and Blue

According to the Stax Labe Little Sonny Flew for his second album, Black and Blue released in 1972 , Sonny flew to the Stax studios in Memphis and recorded eleven sides in one weekend. It was the #1 blues album in Detroit and #3 on the local LP charts.

Photo Credit: By Arthur Siegel, FSA-OWI [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons Continue reading Detroit’s Electric Harmonica King Little Sonny

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Green Mountain Rebels EP: A distilled a mixture of soulful elegance and raw emotion

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Green Mountain Rebels EP: A distilled a mixture of soulful elegance and raw emotion

Besides the great music of this band, the story about how these guys first met in the spare rooms and on the back roads of Eau Claire, Wis., makes you interested in the life of the Green Mountain Rebels.

Since 2004 the riotous Green Mountain Rebels are brewing a unique style of music in a wide genre. It is Blues, it is Roots, It is Americana and a whole lot more but let’s give it the name Americana  Blues for now. I spoke with guitarist David about the band and their latest EP which is like good Bourbon sweet and smooth up front while strong enough to leave you with a fire in  your belly and a swagger in your talk.

Using two Guitars over drinking cans of beer

Guitarist David Koenig and Jered Shaw developed a friendship using two guitars and conversation over drinking cans of beer and that is how we like it.  I was surprised by the diversity of their songs and as a music lover you have to like the Green Mountain Rebels.

Blues and Swamp Influences

The arrangements remind me in a certain way of my favorite Rolling Stones album Exile on Main Street. Think about tracks like ‘Stop Breaking Down’ and ‘Shake Your Hips’. On the other hand, you might recognize a touch of Swamp blues in the guitar and harmonica. Think of songs like the ‘Hoodoo Blues’. The voice of singer Susan Renee Thiede is soulful and confident, the other vocalist, Jered brings a Hill Country feeling to the arrangement. This combination makes the music, as David already told us smooth and strong, like good bourbon.

Well, we are all about making music that you can feel.  We always strive to be authentic, raw, honest and real.  And there’s no other style of music, in my opinion, that you can feel more than the blues. 

Inspiration from Muddy to Dylan to the Rolling Stones

The Green Mountain Rebels were inspired by a whole lot of musicians in the blues genre.  Guitarist David explains how he and Jered shared a passion for blues style songs: ” We listened to the old timers like Bill Broonzy, Howlin Wolf, Willie McTell, Buddy Guy/Junior Welles, Jimmy Reed, Willie Dixon as well as the more current renditions from the Stones to Zeppelin to Jack White/Black Keys.  We love it all”.

With help from their other heros like the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Zeppelin and Muddy Waters, Koenig and Shaw established the basis for what would become their new adventure: the riotous Green Mountain Rebels.

Favorite song “Down & Dirty Blues”

From The Green Mountain Rebels  EP, my favorite song is  “Down & Dirty Blues”, which is in every aspect complete. The vocals rhythmically built up, the guitar is smooth in the solo tunes and in the riffs. The piano brings some gold old’  Honky Tonk.  And then when the interlude starts  you might think you have seen it all.  But no.  Next to come is the beginning of maybe one of the best finals in a song I’ve heard.

Writing the “Sweatheart Dance”

From all the songs they recorded David picks one of his favorites:  “The Sweetheart Dance”. “This song was always a crowd favorite at our live shows, with the emotional and at times hostile lyrical exchanges between a man and his woman.  The music of that song came from a piece of music I had written years before I met Jered.  When I brought it to Jered, he developed the melody and lyrics and the back/forth structure between the male vocal and female vocal.  Jered gave that song heart and soul, it really came alive.  You can still feel it, even after playing it time and time again.  In my humble opinion, there isn’t another song out there like it.  It’s a very unique blues song, it doesn’t really follow the typical blues structure and within the song two people are actively arguing and taking cheap shots at each other!  It has a theatrical side to it when you see it performed live.  This version, as with every version we ever recorded of this song, was recorded completely live”. 

 

 “What you hear on the EP is what we are, no more no less.”  

Latest Green Mountain Rebels Blues  “Move On”

Another song you will like is “Move On”. This song kicks off with  hill country blues vocals. The combination of Jered and Susie makes this song peak very fast. The following  Harmonica solo is nicely found. It is a newer blues song of the Green Mountain Rebels and doesn’t follow the traditional blues structure, but that doesn’t matter.  While David tells he “was playing around with a lot of palm muting, sort of in the fashion that Neil Young would and found himself simply going between two chords (D & F) in a very “choppy” rhythm.  When that got too repetitious he tossed in a G7 and held that to build the tension back into the main D & F progression.  It is pretty much the entire song. Jered then gave it life with very loose, drenched in bluesman style vocal and bruising harmonica”.

 

5-piece band

For the Release of the EP The Green Mountain Rebels have strengthen their forces to the delivery of the songs, toward the power of a 5-piece band. Chuck Caldwell (drums) and Matt Staudenmaier (bass) were enlisted to protect the basic principles of the newly constructed music by driving the rhythm section.

It was a great pleasure to listen to the Green Mountain Rebels, I met David and the band as great musicians with a whole lot of love for the Roots genre. Their EP is available at Bandcamp and Amazon.

Follow the Green Mountain Rebels on Facebook for more music!

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Louisiana Blues harmonica monument Schoolboy Cleve

Louisiana Blues harmonica monument Schoolboy Cleve

‘She’s Gone’ is one of the finest rocking blues song around and was recorded for Feature Records in 1954 by Schoolboy Cleve. As you can hear Cleve was an excellent harmonica player and one of the founders of the New Orleans, Louisiana Blues sound. He managed to preserve this Blues legacy for over fifty years.

Louisiana blues harmonica players

Back in the day Schoolboy Cleve was part of a group harmonica players in New Orleans that made a whole lot of fame. Buddy Guy was one of the musicians that was impressed by the work of these guys that included people like Cleve, Lightnin’ Slim and Lazy Lester. In his biography “When I Left Home: My Story”,  Buddy Guy tells “I was into the Baton Rouge harmonica players: They were the original harmonica players, and Cleve and Slim were first around. Those guys were always talking about New Orleans music”. All these guys found a place in the Blues history books, but I like Schoolboy Cleve the most because of Rhythm ‘nd Blues approach.

South To West: Iron & Gold

His monumental work has been brought to getter in what CD Baby calls ‘A historical musical treasure’. It is the album South to West: Iron & Gold, with Schoolboy Cleve’s original recordings and unreleased material from the period 1954 to 1998. “Schoolboy Cleve felt living in the South was hard like iron. After moving to the West it felt like he struck gold. The title, South to West – Iron and Gold, represents his journey”.

During production of this CD, Hurricane Katrina and Rita hit New Orleans, Louisiana and other parts of the South.

Video Credit: Posted on Youtube by Sanma Bluesanddroll : I do not own the copyright to this recording so if it needs to be removed.

She’s Gone and Strange Letter Blues

In She’s Gone you hear a fast rhythm a groovy harmonica and swinging vocals. It is the easy listening blues sound that especially with a nice beer or whisky makes a man wanna dance. Alongside his regional college’s he recorded several songs. Saidlt enough his solo work wasn’t released that much. You can hear him on Lightnin’ Slim’s recording ‘Sugar Plum’ and a whole lot of other songs on Slim’s album “”It’s Mighty Crazy!”. Schoolboy Cleve is known worldwide and is considered one of the greatest harmonica players that ever lived. He played with other legendary artist like Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy, Grammy nominee Ron Thompson and many others.

photo credit: Blues Harp via photopin (license)

She’s Gone : Schoolboy Cleve

SCHOOLBOY CLEVE- STRANGE LETTER BLUES

Schoolboy Cleve Beautiful Beautiful Love (1957)

Schoolboy Cleve – My Heart is Crying

Schoolboy Cleve – I’m Him

School Boy Cleve – Here I Go Again

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The Black Bull Blues of Little Walter

Little Walter | Marion Walter Jacobs (May 1, 1930)

Little Walter I would’ve liked to have played with  / Johnny Winter

The Swinging Harp

The first time I heard about Little Walter was in the movie Cadillac Recods. I was a nineteen year old boy who just invented some blues greats like Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf and John Lee Hooker. The first song that got my attention, and I’m sure many more Little Walter enthusiasts, was ‘My Babe’.  Everytime I hear that swinging harp and Guitar, it gives me a relaxing groove. Walters voice is one of a kind, that is what makes his music great.

Traveling

Little walter was born in Marksville, Louisiana. At age of twelve he dropped out of school, he would travel around, walking the streets of New Orleans, Memphis, Helena and St. Louis.

Chicago

When Little Walter arrived in Chicago he started playing music on Maxwell Street. A famous place for Chicago blues musicians, back in the day. Not only Walter but also many more Chicago legends made fame on Maxwell Street.  Among Little Walter artist like Floyd Jones, Big Bill Broonzy and Sonny Boy Williamson played there tunes on Maxwell Street.

Little Walter´s Music  

From now on it is possible to listen to some Blues records on the Black Bull Blues Blog. With Amazon musicplayer I can give an impression of the music I’m talking ’bout. Enjoy the famous Little Walter Tracks.

Death

A few months after returning from his second European tour, he was involved in a fight while taking a break from a performance at a nightclub on the South Side of Chicago. The relatively minor injuries sustained in this altercation aggravated and compounded damage he had suffered in previous violent encounters, and he died in his sleep at the apartment of a girlfriend at 209 E. 54th St. in Chicago early the following morning.

Grave

His body was buried at St. Mary’s Cemetery inEvergreen Park, IL on February 22, 1968. His grave remained unmarked until 1991, when fans Scott Dirks and Eomot Rasun had a marker designed and installed
 

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Blues Blog – Keith Dunn at Delft Bluesfestival


Last week Keith Dunn performed at the Delft Bluesfestival. It is organised two times a year. Every bar and pub has live bluesmusic. It’s a great event. so therefore a short Blues Blog.

My personal highlight was the Keith Dunn band. Great harmonica’s and a great voice. It’s modern blues with a little bit of soul.

For more information:
http://www.keithdunnband.com/

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