Tag Archives: West Coast Blues

Lowell Fulson’s laid back attitude and West Coast grooving Blues

Lowell Fulson’s laid back attitude and West Coast grooving Blues

West Coast Blues pioneer Lowell Fulson inspired a generation of new Blues musicians like Ray Charles and BB King with his uptown jump Blues from Oakland California. Ray Charles was part of Lowell’s band as a pianist during the forties and fifties. BB was inspired while working as a DJ in Memphis and became a big fan of Lowell. Fulson’s songs were recorded by artists like Elvis Presley and Otis Redding. His music was sampled by Salt ‘n Peppa and the Wu Tang Clan. The kid from Oklahoma walked a long journey to become an inspiring bluesman.

Legacy of Lowell Fulson

Lowell wasn’t an urban city bluesman. His songs were laid back like you would expect on the sunny West Coast. His guitar solos were smooth and his lyrics were direct. You will notice this in songs like “Tramp”, which was covered most successfully by Otis Redding. A legion of bluesmen recorded the song later, which originally reached #5 in the R&B chart. Men like Buddy Guy, Johnny Winter and Junior Kimborough among them.

Start of career in Oklahoma

Born in Oklahoma Fulson did not spent a lot of time in  “The Sooner State”, Lowell esthablished in Texas. It would become the place where he came in contact with the blues through greats like Blind Lemon Jefferson, Lonnie Johnson and Little Hat Jones (Encyclopedia of the Blues-2nd (p71) 1992, author Gérard Herzhaf). After some time Fulson was good enough to take part in the band of traveling artist Texas Alexander in 1939, replacing Howlin’ Wolf according to Nick Talevski’s Rock Obituaries – Knocking On Heaven’s Door p.188. 

Not Texas but California became the place this bluesman really got things going. In 1943 he left Texas Alexander’s band and moved to California for his navy duty in World War II. The next two years he worked overseas and got inspired by some of the greatest swing and jazz tunes around. These tunes would stay part of his style throughout his career. After the war he settled in the East Bay Area.

Best songs Lowell Fulson

To get an impression of the laid back blues Lowell Fulson made fame with and eventually became the head of a Rhythm and Blues community on the West Coast, you should listen to songs like ‘When the Figs Start Falling”, “Everyday Blues” and “Oh Well Oh Well”.

‘When the Figs Start Falling”

“Everyday Blues”

“Oh Well Oh Well”

Reconsider Baby

In 1954 Lowell Fulson wrote and recorded Reconsider Baby his biggest or at least his most covered song recorded for Checker Record in 1954. Today this song is considered a Blues Classic like other diamond song’s as “Got My Mojo Working”  and “Baby Please Don’t Go”. Many blues and other artists have recorded Lowell Fulson’s “Reconsider Baby”. Most famous is perhaps the 1960 version of Elvis Presley, recorded for his Elvis Is Back! album. According to Wikipedia Presley recorded an earlier version in 1956 during a jam session at Sun Studio with Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis, later known as the “Million Dollar Quartet“. You might also like Little Milton’s version of ‘Reconsider Baby’, recorded on ‘Sings Big Blues’ in 1966.

Elvis Presley – Reconsider Baby

During the nineties Lowell Fulson was an esthablished musician, but his career was low-key. Other artists like Eric Clapton and B.B. King asked Lowell to perform alongside them. He kept performing and recording for mostly small record labels. Most of his work can be found online and there you will see how different his songs and lyrics are. Lowell Fulson was a big man of the blues, a heavy weight and a winner.

My father’s nephew was the blues musician, Lowell Fulson. Every time he came around, he had a pretty car, a beautiful woman and a slick sharkskin suit. Believe it or not, that’s how I decided I wanted to get into music.
– Charlie Wilson –

Photo Credit feature picture: By Lioneldecoster (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Lowell Fulson – The Letter

Lowell Fulson — One More Blues


Lowell Fulson 1963 ‘You’re Gonna Miss Me’ Live Clip

Lowell Fulson / Low Society

Lowell Fulson – At My Place Santa Monica, CA, 1983

Please follow and like us:

K.C. “Mercury Blues” Douglas

K.C. “Mercury Blues” Douglas

K.C. Douglas was a fine blues musician from the Bay Area. Originally born Mississippi K.C. Douglas learned the Delta Blues from veteran Tommy Johnson. Alongside Johnson, K.C. would perform throughout Mississippi in several Juke Joints until 1945, when he moved to the West Coast. In de Bay Ares Folk Blues scene Douglas would performed several songs of Johnson. ( Blues Encyclopedia by Edward Komara,Peter Lee, p 280) .

K.C. Douglas from Mississippi to California

After K.C. Douglas moved to California he quickly formed a band. In 1948 his first recording “Mercury Boogie” was pressed. Mercury Boogie is a happy feeling blues song and in some ways it just sounds as a jam between the folks in the local bar. That sounds is what hear in a lot througout K.C.’s repertoire. I Imagine K.C. Douglas as a man who allways played and allways was around. A habitue of the local juke joint and a local hero.

Arhoolie founder Chris Strachwitz and K.C. met in the late fifties, and Stachwitz must have seen the heroism of Douglas like we do now. They recorded “Mercury Boogie” in 1960 later Douglas would record maybe his best song “Mercury Blues” for Arhoolie. (Arhoolie 40th anniversary collection set).

Mercury Boogie

Mercury Blues

K.C. Douglas’ “Mercury Blues” was covered by a whole lot of musicians like The Steve Miller Band, Alan Jackson, and Meat Loaf. Alan Jackson´s version of “Mercury Blues” became a big hit in 1992, and was used in a Ford Trucks commercial. The rights of the song where purchased by Ford Motor Company.

K.C. Douglas didn’t get the fame like fellow west coast blues musicians like Jesse Fuller or Lowell Folsom got. Het was a local hero where he played in the pubs and coffeehouses of Oakland and the Bay Area. K.C. Was always around playing blues. That lifestyle made him the hero of the Bay Blues.

Listen to K.C. Douglas’ best songs right below…

Please follow and like us:

Smokey Wilson’s West Coast Blues music

Smokey Wilson’s West Coast Blues music

We’re goin’ back to 1970 when Smokey Wilson decided to move out of Mississippi. He had a long career in the Juke Joint’s of the southern states, performed with a whole lot of bluesmen and lived the blues for already 34 years. His mother died. He was done with Mississippi and decided to go the city of Angels, Los Angeles.

Moving To Los Angeles blues scene

In L.A. Smokey was confronted with the growing popularity of the blues. Soon after his arrival he opened his own bar the Pioneer Club in Watts. He started playing in the Pioneer Club house band and invited a lot of friends like Big Joe Turner, Albert Collins, Pee Wee Crayton, Shakey Jake and Big Mama Thornton. Before Smokey bought the club The Doors had performed there in 1965.(Encyclopedia of the blues, p 1093)

Smokey Wilson Style and Genre

 Watts -1912 - photo Wiki Commons
Watts -1912 – photo Wiki Commons

His own music is widly stretched in all black music genres. `High Time´ is a great funky song. `Howlin´ for my Darlin´ is a more Chicago style blues song and ´goin´ Away Baby is a fast Rhythm and Blues close to Rock ´n Roll song.  What we can say is that Smokey Wilson is capable in performing all the genres with attitude and flair.

Smokey Wilson best song, in my book, is definitely `I´m No Fool I Know the Rule´. It is the funky voice, the rhythmic screaming and laid back chorus. Somewhere it has the same groove as `Messing with the Kid` by Junior Wells. I´m No Fool I know The Rule has a great groovy a steady between the lines bass guitar, and very fine guitar solo.

Wilson Started recording for several record labels since the seventies, like Cadet, Big Town and Modern Record. He had a lot of success in the Pioneer Club but outside the West Coast his fame was very little.  In 1981 he sued the record labels because he had not been paid for his rightful record and publishing royalties. Find here more about the court case.

Last night I drank beer with some friends and wanted to introduce them to the blues, Rhythm and Blues and Rock ´n Roll. For that night Smokey Wilson was a golden match. His music is always good and every sub-genre he knows how to play with flair.

Smokey Wilson on Spotify

Smokey Wilson – High Time

Smokey Wilson Killig Floor

Smokey Wilson – 44 Blues

Please follow and like us: