Blues | WGLT

Blues

The Ronnie Baker Brooks 2017 release “Times Have Changed” is aptly titled. For one, he altered his guitar sound, leaving his coveted guitar pedals at home during the recording of the album.

“I plugged straight into the amp through a Gibson guitar,” said Brooks. “That was an adjustment for me at first, mentally.”

Mdou Moctar and his band
Jerome Fino

The thriving Desert Blues sound of the Saharan peoples of North Africa is the spiritual homeland of the blues. Mdou Moctar is a Niger-based disciple of that sound. He's about to embark on a short American tour that kicks off at Reverberation Vinyl in Bloomington.

Brian Rozman

Samantha Fish can shred her blues guitar with the best. So a new album with a dual focus on her voice and hits from the 1950s and 60s is a bit of a curve-ball. Fish calls it freeing.

Kathy Boyle

2017 has been the year of musical reunions in Bloomington-Normal.

In April, The Something Brothers, Mojo Stew, and The Mechanics convened at the Castle Theater in an encore for the ages. Marc Boon’s R&B big band Hip Pocket followed suit a few weeks later. And on Aug. 27, the four-member straight-up blues band The Blue Aces join the reunion tour.

Peggy DeRose

The music world has had many romantic couples; the most famous include Sonny & Cher and Ike & Tina Turner. It’s probably not the best comparison to San Francisco based blues artists Cathy Lemons and Phil Berkowitz. Not that they’re not making great music, but the chemistry isn’t, well, tempestuous.

David Dobson

George Thorogood & the Destroyers have been ripping through blues classics for four decades. Their ferocious recorded takes on "Move It On Over," "One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer," and of course "Bad To The Bone" are classic rock radio staples.

Phil Brisse / Courtesy

Joel Da Silva came to blues in the Chicago bars he worked in as a teenage bar-back. That’s where he bumped into legends including Junior Wells, Magic Slim, A.C. Reed and Rod Piazza. Well, he didn’t just “bump” into the them; he would pick them up at the airport and deliver them to their hotel.

“Or I would get them barbeque or whatever they wanted,” said Da Silva.

David Carroll / Flickr

Thornetta Davis is known as "Detroit's Queen of the Blues." Her childhood was anything but royal.

"My mom raised four girls with the help of my grandmother," said Davis. "It was an upbringing of turmoil .... my father was an alcoholic and quite violent. When my mother got out of that situation, that's when I feel I started to live."

Charles Osgood Photography

Renee Rosen's new historical novel "Windy City Blues" uses Chicago and its storied blues history as a backdrop to a story about perseverance and coming of age.

"I sort of see it as the story of three people who come to Chicago seeking a better life," said Rosen via Skype from her Chicago home.

Tyler Zoller

The line "I just want to make music and friends/Been that way since I was 12 years old" is from "Music and Friends" off Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band's recent "So Delicious" album. Hearing the words fed back to Josh"Reverend" Peyton elicits a smile from the trio's founder.

Nicole Weingart

As a teen phenom growing up in a city many consider the Mecca of blues and soul music, Eric Gales didn't quite understand what he was absorbing.

"Growing up in Memphis had an impact on me in ways I didn't realize until later in life," said Gales.  "It was a big part of growing up there.  A lot of blues and other styles were there.  And now it's grown into a whole lot of other styles.  I am very proud to have come from Memphis, but there are many other styles attributed to the city."

Jon Norton / WGLT

WGLT picked up a coveted "Keeping The Blues Alive" award presented by the Blues Foundation in Memphis, Tennessee.  GLT Morning Edition host and Music Director Jon Norton accepted the award for the station during the KBA awards luncheon February 3 at the Doubletree Hotel in Memphis. The ceremony coincided with the annual week-long "International Blues Challenge," where musicians from around the world compete for cash, prizes, and industry recognition.

hurricaneruth.com

"Hurricane" Ruth LeMaster came to music through her parents. Her father was a trumpet player who fell under the spell of all kinds of music, including Dixieland, blues, jazz, big band, R&B and bluegrass.  As a young girl she absorbed that music, as well as the different sounds from the Friday night jam sessions along the Illinois river during the summers in her hometown of Beardstown, Illinois.

Daniel Hartwig / Flickr

When Chess Records co-founder Phil Chess died October 18 at age 95, it was another opportunity to wax nostalgic about a fertile era of independent U.S. record companies.  From the early 1950’s through the late 1960’s, the Chicago based blues label and its peer independents Atlantic, Sun, and Stax Records, produced and sold millions of recordings of some of America’s greatest roots music.

Dave Weld is one of the founding members of the Chicago Blues Band Lil' Ed & the Blues Imperials.  But his Chicago Blues history dates back to his time with Ed's uncle, the now legendary bluesman J.B. Hutto.  On this edition of GLT's Talkin Blues, Weld talks to Jon Norton about meeting Hutto and other blues artists when he ventured from white clubs on Chicago's north side to the black clubs on the city's "grittier" west side. 

Marty Rickard

Shaun Murphy returns to central Illinois to perform at the 2016 Blues Blast Music Awards September 23 at the Fluid Events Center in Champaign.  Murphy is nominated for Female Blues Artist, a category she won in 2012 when GLT Blues Radio broadcast the awards show live from Buddy Guys Legends in Chicago.  In addition to fronting her own band, Murphy has a distinguished music background.

James Christopher

At this time last year, Walter Trout was still re-gaining his strength following a liver transplant the year prior.  Today Trout sounds strong and happy to be alive.  When a 16 year old recording of a performance at the Tampa Bay Blues Festival was brought to his attention, specifically his aside saying he was appreciating his mortality more than ever as friends and family were beginning to die, Trout took a deep breath and said "I feel right now even more that every day is a bonus, every breath is beautiful.  Like 'there's another breath, I got to do that again'."

Andrew Malone / Flickr via Creative Commons

Uptown Normal hosts not-your-average harvest festival, Saturday and Sunday, August 27 & 28.  It's the Sweet Corn Blues Festival, featuring over 20 tons of fresh sweet corn and two days of live blues on the CEFCU stage.

Miami bluesman Albert Castiglia returns to central Illinois early next month, and this time he's touring on what critics are calling his finest album.  Castiglia says he agrees with with what his critics are saying about the album titled "Big Dog," and credits the albums producer Mike Zito.

"Because Mike and I are cut out of a similar cloth musically, and we both grew up listening to blues and rock music made it a good pairing. There's an edge to this album.  Mike dialed in my guitar sound. When we met at the studio, he brought his trailer full of all the equipment he owns.  We experimented with sound and he really got my guitar sound to what I sound like live.  And vocally he pushed me to heights I never thought possible."

Julia Bailey

Boogie-woogie pianist Eden Brent will grace the GLT Summer Concert stage June 11.  The Greenwood, Mississippi native has been immersed in blues music since she met the much older Aibe "Boogaloo" Ames when she was a teen.

"Boogaloo was a fixture here in the delta.  He enjoyed quite a successful career from the middle 1940's through the 1960's in Detroit.  First as a jazz piano player, and swing player with his own band in the 40's.  Up until the mid 60's he did some work with Barry Gordy at the Motown studio's.  Boogaloo had enjoyed a celebrated career, just fortunate for me he fell in love with a woman with ties to Mississippi, so he followed her down here.  I didn't meet Boogaloo until probably 1980 or so."

Monaghan Photography

Corey Dennison listened to a lot of music growing up in Chattanooga TN and various other southern burgs.  But he said everything changed once he heard Howlin' Wolf's "London Sessions" album.

"Right then and there is when I said 'whoa ... I gotta have this.'"

Brad Olson Photography

Following his muse has worked well for California based singer/songwriter/guitarist Mike Eldred. Exhibit A is a recent album of Elvis covers titled "Elvis Unleaded."  Eldred said his latest album “Baptist Town” was inspired by his readings of folklorist Alan Lomax, which themselves have inspired many trips by Eldred to Mississippi.

“The more I dug into the folklore and history, and the prisons, prison work songs and field hollers, I realized that this music has always done something to me, as has gospel.”

Jon Norton / WGLT

WGLT's legendary Blues host "Delta" Frank Black made an encore appearance during GLT Blues Sunday, May 15.  Black played his 50 favorite blues songs as part of GLT's 50th anniversary celebration, and said he had "a blast."

"It's been a long time since I've been on the radio. I tell ya, and I haven't had this much fun in a long, long time."

Marc Cooper / Flickr

Jeff Jensen was living in Portland Oregon in 2011 when he lost his marriage and house. Devastated, he packed what was left of his belongings and prepared to move to California,

“I have a really supportive family and they encouraged me to move back to California, where I’m originally from. That was the plan.” 

The plan changed at a service station.  As he was getting an oil change before departing, he said something didn’t feel right. On a whim, he drove east, instead of south.

In December 1956, an impromptu recording session in the now legendary Sun Records Studio's became legendary itself.  Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, and Jerry Lee Lewis spent a relaxed afternoon recording mostly gospel music. An article featuring a photograph of the four who themselves would reach legendary status appeared in a local newspaper the next day. The headline simply said "Million Dollar Quartet."

Guy King Goes 'Uptown'

Apr 10, 2016
Roman Sobus / Roman Sobus Photography

Chicago’s Guy King spices his blues with Jazz & R&B, the "uptown" sounds he devoured growing up in his native Israel.  When he moved to the United States in his early 20’s, those sounds became the foundation of his own music.

Dragan Tasic

"Paying your Dues" is a saying heard frequently in blues music.  Chicago's Toronzo Cannon has been doing that nightly for two decades ... while driving a CTA Bus during the day.  Cannon began his dues paying as a sideman with some of Chicago's big blues names.  He later formed his own band and worked his way through the city's club circuit, and eventually to large crowds in Europe and a label deal with Delmark Records. 

Blues singer-songwriter-performer Shari Puorto grew up in Connecticut listening to some of the great names in rock and blues, and was especially drawn to the intensity of Etta James. 

Peoria's Smokers Blues Band member Hal Duckett recently stopped by the GLT Studio's to talk with Jon Norton about band's debut album, titled "Roads Less Traveled."  He also talked about their recent trip to Memphis representing Peoria at the International Blues Challenge.  

Duckett says his brother introduced him to Blues through his record collection.  But he says he REALLY got the Blues ... in his car.  He says he was driving home from St. Louis ... and was listening to WGLT on his car radio.

Jean-Luc Bouchier

The latest album from Blues/Roots Rocker Peter Karp titled "The Arson's Match" is actually an over decade ago live date with former Rolling Stones member Mick Taylor.  In this Skype conversation with WGLT's Jon Norton, Karp details how he and Taylor met, and how as a teenager, he coincidentally found his calling at the "The Bottom Line," the same famous New York City nightclub where he recorded his new album shortly before the venue closed in 2004.

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