CAT HEAD UPDATE NEWSLETTER
"All the blues that's fit to print"
|"Happy New Year!" Ha. Yeah, I've been too busy to do a newsletter till now. Thanks for your patience.|
|2023 is half over, and it's been a heck of a busy and bluesy one so far. Lots of fabulous festivals, shows, visitors, media and more.|
I'll try to hit some of the highpoints below plus tell you about some essential upcoming events here in the heart of the blues Delta—Clarksdale, Mississippi. Please come see us soon, y'all!
Plan your blues pilgrimage today:
MONTHLY CALENDAR: www.cathead.biz/music-calendar.
CROSSROADS DELTA BLUES HOUR (radio show): jazz88.org.
Unfortunately, Clarksdale and the Delta has also had some friends and neighbors pass away recently, so please scroll down for more on those great lives lived.
Shop CAT HEAD—Mississippi's blues store in Clarksdale since 2002—Mon-Sat 11am-5pm & Sun 11-3. WEB STORE at www.cathead.biz.
Thanks and best,
A FEW RECENT PICS:
- Texassippi Raquel, Big Red Paden and yours truly modeling current eyewear trends. Per Red, "The sun never sets on cool!"
- Ayler Pug doing tricks in the background the hopes of scoring some of the Abe's BBQ and Delta tamales in the foreground (with no success).
- Cartoon that hits a little too close to home... ha.
|SOUNDS AROUND TOWN: Live blues 365 plus over a dozen annual festivals and so much more!|
|Here is last week's snapshot of Clarksdale's weekly music scene. Remember, you can always see additional future weeks plus our list of annual blues festivals (with web links) on my Music Calendar page at https://www.cathead.biz/music-calendar. (Psst... When you get there, be sure to scroll past the weekly add to see the full list.)|
|Book rooms now for Clarksdale's epic SUNFLOWER RIVER BLUES FESTIVAL—starring KINGFISH!|
|The grandmother of all Clarksdale festivals—the FREE FREE FREE Sunflower River Blues & Gospel Festival—returns August 11-13 with a veritable who's who of Mississippi blues, including Grammy-winner Christone "Kingfish" Ingram, Super Chikan, Jimmy "Duck" Holmes Australia "Honey Bee" Jones, Anthony "Big A" Sherrod, Lucious Spiller, Kenny Brown, Little Willie Farmer, Jimbo Mathus, Pat Thomas, Libby Rae Watson, Terry "Big T" Williams, Bill Abel, Terry "Harmonica" Bean and more! FEST INFO: www.sunflowerfest.org. Plus, Clarksdale will feature plenty of other live blues and special events all over town in the clubs, restuarants, etc. Book your hotel rooms ASAP! LODGING LIST: VisitClarksdale.com (plus check Airbnb and VRBO).|
2023 SUNFLOWER RIVER BLUES & GOSPEL FEST LINEUP (subject to change):
FRI AUG 11 - BLUES MAIN STAGE - FREE!
7pm-7:45pm - Delta Blues Museum Band
8pm-8:45pm - Heavy Suga & Sweet Tones
9pm-9:45pm - Lucious Spiller
10pm-11pm - Super Chikan & Fighting Cocks
11:15pm-12:15am - Jaye Hammer
SAT AUG 12 - ACOUSTIC BLUES STAGE - FREE!
10am-10:45am10:45am - Pat Thomas
11am-11:45 am - Kenny Brown
12pm-12:45pm - Jimmy "Duck" Holmes
1pm-1:45pm - Bill Abel
2pm-2:45pm - Little Willie Farmer
3pm-3:45pm - Libby Rae Watson
4pm-4:45pm - Mississippi Marshall
5pm-5:45pm - Miss Australia "Honey Bee" Jones
6pm-6:45pm - Terry “Harmonica” Bean
SAT AUG 12 - BLUES MAIN STAGE - FREE!
7pm-7:45pm - Johnie B. & Queen Iretta Sanders
8pm-8:45pm - Mark "Mule Man" Massey
9pm-9:45pm - Jimbo Mathus
9:45pm-10pm - Awards
10pm-10:45pm - Terry "Big T" Williams & Family
10:45pm-11pm - Miss Gladys
11:15pm-12:15am - Anthony "Big A" Sherrod
12:30am-1:30am - Christone"Kingfish" Ingram
SUN AUG 13 - SUNDAY GOSPEL STAGE - FREE!
3pm-3:30pm Union - Grove Mass Chior
3:45pm-4:15pm - G Hope Mass Chior
4:30pm-5:00pm - B.J. Generation
5:45pm-6:15pm - The Sons of God
6:30pm-7pm - Ricky Burton & 4 Ever Grateful
7:15pm-8:15pm - Josh Myles
8:30pm-9:45pm - Rev. Andrew Cheairs & Songbirds
PLUS, BECOME A VIP SPONSOR AND ENJOY...
THURS AUG 10 - "GRITS, GREENS & BBQ VIP PARTY"
7pm-7:45pm - Stan Street & Jaxx Nassar
8pm-8:45pm - Sean "Bad" Apple
9pm-9:45pm - Deak Harp & Guest
|FESTIVAL RECAP for the 1st half of 2023... including 20th anniversary JUKE JOINT FESTIVAL edition...|
|As I alluded to above, it has been a crazy-busy blues year thus far. Clarksdale is hosting over a dozen festivals for 2023 (in addition to our 365 gig schedule) with several in our rear view mirror and many still yet to come! Plan now for our Aug-Oct events, or book your rooms today for next year's fests. In the meantime, here's what you've been missing in Clarksdale and beyond:|
JANUARY 2023 - Our seats were filled for the 13th annual Clarksdale Film & Music Festival (1/27-29)—starring films like Deep Blues, Blues Divas, Bonnie Blue (James Cotton biopic), Paradise Highway (Morgan Freeman feature) and others... Plus live blues by Anthony "Big A" Sherrod, Libby Rae Watson, Australia "Honey Bee" Jones and more. We had visitors from seemingly everywhere visiting our 2023 pop-up theater location at the new Shared Experiences building, downtown. Website: clarksdalefilmfestival.com. PICS include film venue and Sunday musical acts...
MARCH 2023 - In mid-March Texassippi Raquel and I met in Memphis to see Clarksdale's Kingfish open up for Buddy Guy's "final tour" at the Orpheum. Christone and Buddy delivered, of course. Then, two weeks later, Texassippi and I took a fun planes-trains-and-automobiles trip to Knoxville, Tennessee, for Big Ears Festival (3/30-4/2), which as the name suggests is a mix of edgier or less common musical forms—as in "open your ears." Big Ears uses downtown venues as the stages. Honestly, it's a pretty expensive festival to attend, and even after you spend the money, you spend a lot of time in lines hoping to get into some of the shows. Still, the lineup was very compelling. While the festival definitely sports some pretty big ears, for some reason it doesn't hear (or present) any blues acts. Enormous miss. That said, Big Ears does always feature an excellent collection of the 'freer' forms of jazz and improvisational musics. Our absolute favorite was a hardhitting set by saxman James Brandon Lewis; truly top notch. Runners up included shows by William Parker (with an ensemble that mixed '60s spiritual jazz, modern dance and something akin to Beat Poetry), David Murrary (with the stellar Tarbaby band), Zoh Amba (who I'm pretty sure was trying to kill us with her sax) and the Sun Ra Arkestra (w/98-year-old Marshall Allen and a train we had to climb over to get to the show!). PICS of poster, Arkestra and train...
APRIL 2023 - Clarksdale's 20th annual (remember that we hosted a 27-act, 9-hour 'live stream' JJF Celebration in April 2020) Juke Joint Festival & Related Events (4/13-16) rocked the town with a Thursday Kickoff, Friday Thacker Mountain Radio and Sunday Cat Head Mini Blues Fest in addition to the dozens of other related activities and (of course) Saturday's main event—this year featuring 17 free daytime stages with 84 acts and 26 nighttime wristband venues with 40 acts. Performers included Super Chikan, Big A, Big T, Duck Holmes, Kenny Brown, Lucious Spiller, Terry "Harmonica" Bean, Lil Joe Ayers, RL Boyce, Pat Thomas, Rev Peyton's Big Damn Band, Honey Bee Jones, Jimbo Mathus, Little Willie Farmer, Lady Trucker, Duwayne Burnside, Robert Kimbrough Sr and so many more! All of the hotels and Airbnbs were filled within 30 minutes of town (plus we had a record number of tent, trailer and RV campers). Thanks to all of the organizers, volunteers, sponsors and partners that made it possible. Plan now for 2024: jukejointfestival.com. PICS include first and latest JJF posters, new JJF bumper sticker, 96-year-old Cadillac John(!), Big A jukin' in my face, Sunflower River campers, Delta street crowd, Texassippi Raquel making me look good at the Visit Clarksdale tourism tent and next year's billboard...
MAY 2023 - Our annual confluence of Clarksdale's May festivals and special events coincided with other happenings in the region (from Memphis to New Orleans)! Clarksdale Caravan Music Fest (5/6) offered up a small-but-mighty sampling of the area's best blues, including Sean "Bad" Apple, Watermelon Slim and more; clarksdalecaravan.com. Women In Blues returned (5/19-20) with a big stage out front of Shared Experiences and butt-kickin' blues and soul from the likes of Australia "Honey Bee" Jones, Jaxx Nassar, Libby Rae Watson and others; womeninblues.org. Ground Zero Blues Club celebrated its anniversary on Memorial Day weekend (5/26-27) by running live blues shows day and night, including performances by Jesse Cotton Stone, Lala Craig, Marquise Knox and more; groundzerobluesclub.com. On the same weekend (5/26-28) Goat Fest X complimented GZBC by rockin' the blues with its 10th edition featuring acts from Catl to Kenny Brown; see "Goat Fest" on Facebook. PICS below are self explanatory...
JUNE - Bentonia, Mississippi's appropriately-named Bentonia Blues Festival fell the same weekend (6/16-17, etc.) as Clarksdale's own B.A.M. Fest (aka Birthplace of American Music Festival), so Raquel made me take some time off, and we did a bit of both events; we truly enjoyed Jimmy "Duck" Holmes himself on a stage next to his legendary Blue Front Cafe; and we caravaned from venue to venue for B.A.M. Fest—with blues/R&B singer/guitarist Beverly Davis playing with Frank "Guitar" Rimmer as a hightlight at Red's Lounge; see Facebook for Bentonia Fest and bamfestms.com for BAM info. (Btw, I didn't make it to the North Mississippi Hill Country Picnic this year, but by all accounts, that was another great June blues event in Mississippi. Also, in Clarksdale, the Pinetop Perkins Foundation held another successful Workshop Experience that culminated with a Blues Showcase at Ground Zero Blues Club on June 16th.) PICS below include 2 each from Bentonia and BAM...
|Clarksdale's CAT HEAD DELTA BLUES & FOLK ART store (and related stuff) turns 21 years old!!|
|In know, I know. You're thinking to yourself, "But Roger, you can't be much older than 21 years old, yourself." What? Really? Nobody? Well, anyway, all I can say is THANK YOU to all of our loyal CAT HEAD customers, blues fan visitors, global media partners, amazing blues musicians, faithful personal friends and, uh... all my general co-conspirators. The first two-decades-plus have been insane for me—in all the right ways—with way too many projects and adventures to list. From CD releases and DVD/streaming productions to annual festivals and overseas tours... from blues books and magazine columns to live-streams and radio shows... and beyond. Oh, and then there's my CAT HEAD brick-n-mortar blues store itself. Ha. A little stress, a ton of fun and more music 'n mayhem than you can shake a pug at. THANKS, Y'ALL! Here's to the next 21.|
What follows is a brief, (not at all chronological or complete) tour through a few of CAT HEAD's highpoints since 2002 (though really just since a certain Roger bought a cellphone that takes pictures)............
|Tune into the CROSSROADS DELTA BLUES HOUR radio show with me, your host, Roger Stolle.|
|Thanks for all the listener (and station) support of my weekly radio show. I really appreciate it and just signed up to do another year. The CROSSROADS DELTA BLUES HOUR comes to y'all from historic Clarksdale, Mississippi, via San Diego's rockin' jazz & blues station KSDS 88.3FM. Special thanks to Ken, Michael, Chad and the whole KSDS team for making it all happen.|
Please listen 'live' Saturdays at jazz88.org (5pm PT, 7pm CT, 8pm ET), or choose from dozens of archived past episodes any time at www.jazz88.org/programs/Crossroads_Delta_Blues_Hour. I usually feature special "themes" for shows or segments... but honestly it's all just an excuse to play real-deal blues, talk about Clarksdale and promote upcoming festivals and special events. Tune in, and hear for yourself!
|TERRY "HARMONICA" BEAN—an amazing story of baseball and blues courtesy of Mississippi Today|
|If you've ever seen Pontotoc, Mississippi, bluesman Terry "Harmonica" Bean play one of his four-hour sets at Red's juke joint here in Clarksdale, then at some point you probably hear him reference his almost Major League baseball career. If so or if not... here is the rest of the story...|
https://mississippitoday.org/2021/05/24/down-home-blues-and-baseball-pontotocs-terry-bean-could-do-it-all/. Terry will likely be at Red's again in the next couple weeks, and he will definitely be at the Sunflower River blues & Gospel Fest in August, btw.
|Sad news from the home of the blues with multiple CLARKSDALE (and vicinity) PASSINGS since April...|
|So sorry to bring y'all such sad news, but such is the circle of life. Deepest sympathies go out to all of our friends and neighbors mourning the loss of our friends and neighbors. An unprecedented number of Clarksdale-connected folks have passed away in the past four months. We appreciate everything that these Clarksdalians (native, transplanted or honorary) contributed to our modern blues scene and ongoing downtown revitalization. Thank you. RIP.|
CHRIS JOHNSON - Deep Blues Fest founder and owner of The Den on Yazoo Avenue in Clarksdale, the nicest guy you'd ever want to meet passed away the Monday after Juke Joint Festival in April. From savingcountrymusic.com: Chris Johnson founded Deep Blues Festival Inc. in 2006, and held the inaugural festival in 2007 in Minnesota. It grew to become one of the biggest alternative blues festivals in the world. When you think of “Deep Blues,” don’t think of B.B. King and Buddy Guy. Deep Blues drew its inspiration from the North Mississippi Hill Country Blues scene and artists such as Junior Kimbrough, R. L. Burnside, and T Model Ford epicentered in Clarksdale, Mississippi and nearby locations. (Note: Chris ultimately "gave" Deep Blues Fest to Clarksdale where it is still held every October; deepbluesfest.com.)
KEITH EDWARD A.K.A. BLUES WIZARD - Originally from Warren, Pennsylvania, Keith was living in Bisbee, Arizona, when he started visiting Clarksdale for Juke Joint Festival each April. In summer 2022, he moved his Lunatic Fringe Luthiery business to Delta Avenue, caddy-corner to Cat Head. In addition to playing local gigs and festivals, he built guitars and other stringed instruments out of suitcases, hubcaps and other cast-off objects. During his career as a traveling blues musician, he played festivals and street corners from San Diego to New York City. He passed away unexpectedly in May. Read a 2019 feature at https://tomorrowsverse.com/story/meet-keith-edward-the-blues-wizard-32129.html.
BILL "HOWL-N-MADD" PERRY - Born in the North Mississippi Hill Country near Tula in 1947, Bill was committed to two things: His family. And his music. In that order. Back when I booked Ground Zero Blues Club here in Clarksdale, he was the guy who was willing to jumpstart music on Wednesday nights, when tourists were rare and mid-week was silent. He built it up, and the Wednesdays continue to this day. He led a truly interesting life, working with everyone from Sonny Thompson and Little Milton to Big George Brock and Bill's own family band, The Perrys. He appeared on an episode of Soul Train and in the Cuba Gooding Jr. film The Way of War. He toured the world but was most often heard at local Clarksdale venues like Red's or Hambone and at festivals like Juke Joint or Sunflower. Sadly, Bill passed unexpectedly in May. More at https://www.msdeltablues.com/billhowlnmaddperry.
JEFF SIMMONS - Jeff was a character. That could be his epitaph. He owned and operated Simmon's Jewelry, just around the corner from Blues Town Music in downtown Clarksdale, for decades. As a former adman, one of my favorite things was to see his once annual ad in the local newspaper. It was a very small square on page one or two and read in its entirety: "Cantaloupe $2 / Simmon's Jewelry". He was a character. And he was the consummate entrepreneur—selling jewelry, yes, but also homemade picnic tables, cell phone accessories and the occasional melon. Whatever it took to pay the bills. He was also a man of opinions who occasionally ran for public office. My impression was that he was from the old school, loved his town and wasn't going to go down without a fight. He wasn't well for months, or maybe years, but he stayed up longer than most thought he would—finally passing away in June. Obituary: https://www.legacy.com/us/obituaries/name/jeffrey-simmons-obituary?id=39519620.
JOHN MEEK - Local visual artist John Meek passed recently. We were fortunate enough to carry John's Clarksdale watercolor prints at my store. From his obituary at https://www.legacy.com/us/obituaries/name/john-meek-obituary?id=52376565: "John Park Meek from Swan Lake, MS, a remarkable watercolor artist and a man of many talents, passed away on July 1, 2023, at the age of 63. Born September 15, 1959, to Ernest Carlysle Meek, Jr. and Sara Bess King Meek in Clarksdale, MS, John's passion for artistic expression shone brightly throughout his life. Renowned for his exceptional watercolor paintings and captivating designs, John's talent was truly extraordinary. He had an eye for transforming everyday objects into stunning sculptures and lamps."
MAC CRANK - Mac Crank and his partner Shelley Ricker lived in Clarksdale for much of the 2000s before returning to Stillwater, Oklahoma, after Mac's retirement. Until recently, they owned two buildings on Yazoo Avenue in downtown Clarksdale. Mac is the former director of the Clarksdale Revitalization Inc. (CRI) nonprofit and later worked for the City of Clarksdale. His efforts in those organizations were instrumental in building the MLK Park Stage, starting the Crossroads Cultural Arts Center nonprofit, constructing the downtown "Heritage Walking Trail" (aka multiple blocks of much-needed new sidewalks, curbs and wheelchair ramps) and other projects and initiatives. Mac also helped juke-joint-king Red Paden behind the scenes for Red's annual Old-Timers Blues Fest each year. Mac passed in early July after a long illness. Obituary: https://obituaries.stwnewspress.com/obituary/malcolm-crank-1088532440.
|LATEST BLUES, MISSISSIPPI, CLARKSDALE, JAZZ AND RELATED NEWS. Check out the links below...|
|NORTH HILLS MONTHLY MAGAZINE article on Clarksdale at https://www.nhmmag.com/post/clarksdale-ms-birthplace-of-the-blues.|
ONLY IN YOUR STATE webzine covers Clarksdale in piece "The Strangest Town In The Deep South Is Right Here In Mississippi… And You’ll Want To Visit"; see it at https://www.onlyinyourstate.com/mississippi/town-deep-south-mississippi-visit-ms/.
TRAVEL2NEXT.COM basically just lists 20 Mississippi cities with barebones descriptions (including Clarksdale, of course) at https://travel2next.com/cities-in-mississippi/.
TRAVEL WRITER'S VISIT TO THE MS DELTA... https://arts.ms.gov/davids-travel-log-mississippi-delta/.
BLUES FOUNDATION UPDATES from nearby Memphis - Blues Music Award (BMA) submission process has started, https://mailchi.mp/blues.org/june-2021-newsletter-3479753?e=c136b88de7.
RECENT "BLUES FESTIVAL GUIDE" NEWSLETTERS at https://www.mynewsletterbuilder.com/email/newsletter/1416461079 and https://www.mynewsletterbuilder.com/email/newsletter/1416449039.
FROM NPR (COURTESY CHARLIE MUSSELWHITE): Meet The Emerging Americana Stars Of The Black Opry Revue, https://www.npr.org/sections/pictureshow/2023/06/30/1183756191/photos-meet-the-emerging-americana-stars-of-the-black-opry-revue.
KOSCIUSKO, MS, FOLK ARTIST NEWS - LV Hull home to be preserved, https://mailchi.mp/6587ce2666ae/lv-hull-home-receives-national-grant-for-preservation?e=1d393e20fe.
- 2024 GRAMMY AWARDS - Nominations announced Nov. 10, 2023; awards announced Feb. 4, 2024; https://mailchi.mp/grammy/the-66th-annual-grammy-awards-set-to-take-place-sun-feb-4-2024?e=590d7c6444. Also, NEW CATEGORIES ADDED, https://mailchi.mp/grammy/three-new-categories-added-for-the-66th-annual-grammy-awards-and-two-existing-categories-moved-to-the-general-field?e=590d7c6444.
LATEST UPDATES FROM THE MEMPHIS FLYER - https://mailchi.mp/memphisflyer.com/new-issue-beer-boom-black-cream.
MISSISSIPPI'S RORY DOYLE photos Myrlie Evers-Williams on the 60th anniversary of Civil Rights icon Medger Evers' murder, https://twitter.com/rorydoylephoto/status/1669162950110617601.
TOKYO JAZZ JOINTS BOOK coming soon; it was a successful Kickstarter project you can see at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/philiparneill/tokyo-jazz-joints/posts/3852862.
NY TIMES PIECE ON AVANT GARDE JAZZ - https://www.nytimes.com/2023/07/05/arts/music/avant-garde-jazz-music.html?smid=nytcore-android-share. (I listed some other albums to think about in the article's comments section, fyi.)
And finally, THE WEEK magazine highlights a new HULU show called "ANTHEM" that visits Clarksdale (see snapshot of review below). Also, this comes from part of another review online: "For this documentary, Detroit was chosen to represent R&B music in America; Clarksdale was chosen to represent blues music in America; Nashville was chosen to represent country music in America; Oklahoma was chosen to represent Native American music; and the San Francisco Bay Area was chosen to represent Latin music in America..." I don't have Hulu, but others have told me that it's definitely worth watching!
|Clarksdale makes another "top" list one of SMITHSONIAN MAGAZINE's Top 15 Small Towns...|
|In Clarksdale, we are very fortunate to show up on blues and tourism lists every year. As a former tourist visitor myself, I can attest to the draw Clarksdale has on folks who love music, history and hospitality. Check out VisitClarksdale.com and MSbluestrail.org, and make your plans to visit the what Lomax called the Land Where Blues Began today. But be careful. Dozens of us from all around the U.S. and the world started as curious visitors and ended up permanent residents. It really is that kind of place.|
Oh, and here's that Smithsonian piece: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/the-15-best-small-towns-to-visit-in-2023-180982286/.
|Shop CAT HEAD—Mississippi's blues store in Clarksdale since 2002—in-person or online today!|
|If you've visited our CAT HEAD store lately (252 Delta Ave.), then you know we are FULLY FULL of amazing T-shirts, ballcaps, books, CDs, DVDs, vinyl LPs, original artwork, posters & prints, beverage glasses, coffee mugs and much more. Come see us 7 days a week at 11am for the complete selection, or check out our curated Web Store now at www.cathead.biz. Thanks for 21 years of good times and great blues, y'all!|
|Coming this fall: "THE ROCK ’N’ ROLL WRITING RETREAT with Preston Lauderbach" in Memphis...|
|Writer? Aspiring writer? Then, pack up your Royal (or Mac) and get your mojo to Memphis this fall as author Preston Lauderbach hosts The Rock ’n’ Roll Writing Retreat—November 5-11, 2023. Hone your craft and explore a legendary city with the author of The Chitlin' Circuit, Beale Street Dynasty, Bluff City and other acclaimed books (plus co-author of books such as Brother Robert, with Robert Johnson's stepsister). Time is of the essence since slots are limited. Read all the details now at rockinretreats.info. Questions? Email Preston at email@example.com.|
|New exhibit coming soon to GRAMMY MUSEUM MISSISSIPPI in nearby Cleveland...|
|From e-newsletter: GRAMMY Museum® Mississippi has announced it will debut a new, major exhibit on Friday, Aug. 11 titled Highway 61: Traveling America’s Music Highway. Presented by Eutaw Construction, in collaboration with Commissioner Willie Simmons, the first-of-its-kind exhibit will take visitors on a journey down what could be considered to be music’s most important and famous road—Highway 61—while exploring the music sites and celebrating the artists that played a major role in shaping American music history. The exhibit will be on display through 2024. Supporting sponsors include APAC Mississippi and South Delta Planning and Development.|
The exhibit will feature iconic artifacts from artists like Muddy Waters, Ann Peebles, Dr. John, Bobby Rush, and Conway Twitty, among others, along with artist interviews, interactive experiences, and even a Juke Joint. The exhibit will also include a section dedicated to the celebration of the Recording Academy Memphis Chapter’s 50th anniversary, highlighting key moments from the Chapter’s history. https://mailchi.mp/grammymuseumms/upcoming-programs-at-gmm-exhibitalert.
|The legendary "Godfather of European Free-Jazz" PETER BROTZMANN passes at 82 years old...|
|"We played like a bat out of hell, going far beyond anything we knew. Until the bouncer threw Brotzmann out." - bandmate describing early gig.|
"Blues wasn't the description of the s***, but rather the attempt to get out of the s***." - Peter Brotzmann.
Rarely surfacing into the mainstream (except perhaps for Jimmy Kimmel's recent mockery and Bill Clinton's past accolades), the grizzled "Solder of the Road"—sax dinosaur PETER BROTZMANN—amazingly appears on over 300 albums, including 153 listed on Discogs under his own name. His lungs dangerously enlarged from decades of hard (at times bloody) blowing at clubs and festivals around the world, he continued to perform till almost the bitter end. While often misunderstood by critics due to his sometimes brutal assault on saxophones, clarinets and taragotos, the tireless German horn legend pulled as much inspiration from traditional American blues music as he did from his European compatriots' modern jazz experiments.
FROM BLUES MUSIC MAGAZINE:
When I interviewed him in 2017 for my Blues Music Magazine column, Brotzmann explained, "I'm not a black man. I'm not even American. I'm just a human being. But what is blues? I mean, it's a question of definition, of course. I think every culture, every human being, has a kind of blues, and I, all my life, was listening to the old blues guys. I still have my quite a big chunk of records, just the blues. Robert Johnson and all the old guys, and still, for me, nowadays, listening to these guys is a source of renewing my own ideas, or coming down to the essentials. I think it's very important, because if I talk to younger musicians nowadays, who have all this education, from the conservatories and music school, they learn everything. They can play their own much better than I can in, let's say, the classical way, but they don't really know what it means."
FROM NEW YORK TIMES OBIT:
Hans Peter Hermann Brötzmann was born on March 6, 1941, in Remscheid, an industrial city in western Germany. Remscheid was almost destroyed by Allied bombardment in 1943, and Mr. Brötzmann’s earliest memory was of running through the streets holding his mother’s hand to escape the firestorm.
"Younger people don’t understand, but what has happened to us in Germany is a kind of trauma of our generation," he told The Wire. "There is a great shame there and a terrible kind of trauma. And that’s why maybe the German way of playing this kind of music sounds always a bit different than the music from the other parts of Europe, at least. It’s always more a kind of scream. More brutal, more aggressive."
PICS below include one of me and my buddies Jeff and Joey with the German sax legend after a gig in Chicago, plus a proper photo by Chris Felver from NY Times obit...
|Texas Monthly covers the new book by Mack McCormick re: his search for ROBERT JOHNSON|
|The 2023 blues Grammy Awards, Blues Music Awards, Blues Blast Awards, etc...|
|The always amazing MISSISSIPPI BOOK FESTIVAL returns to downtown Jackson next month!|
|On the web at msbookfestival.com. This is always a very well-organized and fascinated event, described as: "A Literary Lawn Party! Each August, the Mississippi Book Festival unites readers and authors in an exhilarating celebration of books." I've been on panels in the past, and I can tell you that it is a blast. They always have interesting panels featuring blues 'n roots music, Mississippi history and more... as well as some very big name national and international authors presenting. (Notice below that our buddy Bob Mugge will be there to discuss his new book Notes from the Road—conveniently available as a signed copy at CAT HEAD, of course, https://www.cathead.biz/books-art.)|
|Sorry... also one more recent musical passing of note to reflect upon... GEORGE WINSTON...|
In 2011, the Delta Blues Museum advertised a "George Winston Solo Harmonica Concert." I thought, "Hmm. I've see a pianist with that name. Could it be the same guy?" After closing my Cat Head store that day, I walked down to the DBM stage, where a handful of people were listening to a harmonica player. I walked up and looked down. Yup. Just socks. No shoes. It was THE George Winston. (That was his thing.) I talked to him afterwards, and he gave me a couple CDs. Super nice guy. A big fan of Delta blues with some (forgotten by me) slight connection to Jackson, Mississippi. Curious harmonica player. Interesting slack-key guitarist. Amazing pianist. RIP.
From The New York Times: George Winston, Pianist With a Popular Soothing Sound, Dies at 74. He won a Grammy in the new age category, and his top-selling records helped define the genre. But his interests also included Hawaiian guitar and the Doors. https://www.nytimes.com/2023/06/07/arts/music/george-winston-dead.html?smid=em-share
|Clarksdale's ANTHONY "BIG A" SHERROD amazes in New Jersey as well as in Dublin, Ireland...|
|I joined Big A and the band (Quicksand and Preston Rumbaugh) for a very special weekend of blues music and Clarksdale promotion on the Jersey Shores last month. Then, the next weekend the booking manager and a co-owner of Ground Zero Blues Club took Big A to Dublin to play with an orchestra. I can't "speak" to Dublin (though I heard it went very well), but I can tell you that Big A & the Allstars trio really and truly blew away the audiences in NJ. Anthony was crazy-good. Read more about that Friday's main event presented by The Bruce Springsteen Archives & Center for American Music and the Jersey Shore Jazz & Blues Foundation at the Lauren K. Woods Theatre in New Jersey: https://www.newjerseystage.com/articles/getarticle2.php?titlelink=the-mississippi-delta-meets-the-jersey-shore. And take a look at the cool pics by John Posada below. Then, come see Big A tear it up some night here in Clarksdale. Special thanks to NJ event organizer Christine Zemla as well as co-sponsors Visit Clarksdale and the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area. (Btw, my fav comment after Friday's epic show was from the soundman: "Did you notice that no one got up to even use the bathroom during the show?!") |
|THANKS for reading and supporting CAT HEAD thru 21 years of recession, pandemic and the occasional hangover. Come celebrate in-person when you can!|