Two for the Blues

recent spins

9:47 pm Big Walter Horton: 'Little Boy Blue' 4/19/2014
9:37 pm Muddy Waters: 'LONG DISTANCE CALL' 4/19/2014
9:33 pm Elva Thomas & Geeshie Wiley: 'Motherless Child Blues' 4/19/2014
9:30 pm Elvie Thomas: 'Over To My House' 4/19/2014
9:27 pm Geeshie Wiley: 'Skinny Leg Blues' 4/19/2014
9:24 pm Geeshie Wiley: 'Last Kind Words Blues' 4/19/2014
9:12 pm All Night Long: 'Shake 'Em' 4/19/2014
9:08 pm All Night Long: 'Ain't Gonna Stop' 4/19/2014
9:03 pm All Night Long: 'Everybody's Jukin'' 4/19/2014
8:57 pm Ironing Board Sam: '(Come On) Let's Boogie' 4/19/2014
8:53 pm Leo Welch: 'Praise His Name' 4/19/2014
8:49 pm Cedell Davis: 'My Dog Won't Stay Home' 4/19/2014
8:44 pm Deak Harp: 'If You've Ever Been In Clarksdale' 4/19/2014
8:38 pm Rip Lee Pryor: 'Shake Your Boogie' 4/19/2014
8:34 pm Cadillac John Nolden: 'Sugar Mama' 4/19/2014
8:26 pm Reverend KM Williams: 'Feel Like Hollerin'' 4/19/2014
8:22 pm Jimmy "Duck" Holmes & Terry "Harmonica" Bean: 'She Moved Across The River' 4/19/2014
8:17 pm Bobby Rush: '2 Eyes Full of Tears' 4/19/2014
8:17 pm Charlie Patton: 'High Water Everywhere' 4/19/2014
8:14 pm Charlie Patton: 'Down The Dirt Road Blues' 4/19/2014
8:10 pm 5 Royales: 'Dedicated To The One I Love' 4/19/2014
8:07 pm 5 Royales: 'Laundromat Blues' 4/19/2014
8:04 pm 5 Royales: 'Monkey Hips & Rice' 4/19/2014
8:01 pm 5 Royales: 'Baby Don't Do It' 4/19/2014
8:00 pm Guitar Shorty: 'Easter Blues' 4/19/2014
8:00 pm Luther Randolph & Johnny Stiles: 'CROSSROADS' 4/19/2014
9:56 pm JJ Thames: 'Tell You What I Know' 4/5/2014
9:54 pm Tweed Funk: 'Knock On Wood' 4/5/2014
9:50 pm Joe Louis Walker: 'Hornet's Nest' 4/5/2014
9:47 pm HOLMES BROTHERS: 'You've Got To Lose' 4/5/2014

older playlists »

Hubert Sumlin Interview

10/11/12 9:14 PM | Art Schuna

huber sumlin 3   I’m not really great in identifying guitarists just by listening to them but Hubert Sumlin’s tone and style are so distinctive, he’s one of a few I could pick out in a blind listening test. He was born in Greenwood MS in 1931 and past on just last year. Sumlin joined Howlin’ Wolf’s band in 1954 and was with him (except for a few brief lapses) until Wolf died in 1976. His guitar came to define Howlin’ Wolf’s band nearly as much as Wolf himself. Hubert Sumlin had a reputation for being more than a little wild in his youth. When I interviewed Henry Gray (Wolf’s piano player) he told me Wolf would fire Hubert from the band on Friday and hire him back on Monday. Fortunately, Hubert mellowed with age. In Howlin’ Wolf’s funeral program, Hubert Sumlin was referred to as Howlin’ Wolf’s son. I interviewed Hubert in 2005. He was an incredible story teller. He would often end a story by saying “Do you know what I’m saying?” I have to admit, there were times I said yes even if I didn’t know what he was saying because I just wanted to keep hearing those stories. Hubert Sumlin at this time was a gentle soul, but he maintained more than a little mischief. I hope you enjoy this interview. Click on the title above to go to the interview.

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Jerry “Boogie” McCain Interview

10/11/12 6:16 PM | Art Schuna

jerry mccain     I’ve always been a big fan of Jerry McCain. He was one of the most under-rated talents in the blues. The songs he wrote were unique. Jerry McCain was born in Gadsden, AL in 1930 and lived his entire life there. McCain’s first record was made for Lillian McMurry’s Trumpet label in 1953. Jerry was not too fond of this firs.t release, saying his voice was too high. He would go on to record 9 tunes for Trumpet and had one more release which included “Stay Out of Automobiles” which was released shortly before the label folded. Neither of the Trumpet releases were commercially successful due to limited distribution. His Trumpet records on a release originally issued on the Acoustic Archive label and reissued by Alligator titled Strange Kind of Feeling. McCain would go on to record for Ernie Young’s Excello label and had half a dozen singles released between 1955 and 1957 including “Courtin’ In a Cadillac” and “Run Uncle John Run” which were early classics. Many of these were upbeat tunes aimed at rock and roll fans. The song “Tryin’ To Please” mocks Elvis Presley’s “Love Me Tender”. These songs demonstrate McCain’s unique approach to lyrics that would be a trademark throughout his career. The Excello sides may be found on That’s What They Want: The Best of Jerry McCain released on AVI/Excello which is, sadly, out of print. In 1960, Jerry McCain would acquire a manager Gary Sizemore, who would be with him for 26 years. Jerry released a series of records on Sizemore’s Gas label. His best tune from this period was released on the Rex label, “She’s Tough”. This tune was a regional hit for him would later be covered by the Fabulous Thunderbirds in 1980. You’ll find these recordings on a CD called Good Stuff, released on the Varese Sarabande label. This CD also features a great tune called “Welfare Cadillac Blues”. Unfortunately, this record seems to be out of print. Jerry would go on to record for the Okeh label who tried to turn him into a pop music star. At least one of his records included backing by the Anita Kerr Singers, a female chorus known for their syrupy arrangements. I’ve never heard these records but maybe that’s a good thing. He was billed $33,000 for these questionable productions. The records were not a commercial success. Between 1965-68 Jerry recorded for Stan Lewis’ Jewel label and released 5 singles. In later years, ….

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Samuel Charters Interview

10/5/12 4:48 PM | Art Schuna

samuel charters   Samuel Charters is a noted blues scholar and author, record producer, musician and poet. He first became interested in the blues after listening to Bessie Smith’s version of “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out.” He soon became a record collector and began playing jazz clarinet. While in the Army in the early 1950s he ran afoul of the House Un-American Activities Committee. This led to an interest in politics, but as he did not feel he could run for political office he began writing about black music as a means of fighting racism. His book, “The Country Bluesmen” was published in 1959, one of the earliest books on the blues. Charlie Musselwhite told me in an interview that this book was important in his becoming a bluesman. He was living in Memphis and read the book. Then he discovered that many of the bluesmen included in the book were still living in Memphis. He tracked down many of them from Charter’s book. Perhaps the most instrumental to his future career was Will Shade, who played a number of instruments but was best known for his work on harmonica. In the 1950s Charter began to search for African American bluesmen and did field recordings of them for the Folkways label. One of his early successes was the rediscovery of Lightnin’ Hopkins. He recorded him in his home using a single microphone and a portable tape recorder. In this interview, Sam describes holding the microphone and moving it from Lightnin’s guitar to his face depending on whether he was singing or doing a guitar instrumental break. The Smithsonian-Folkways recording “Lightnin’ Hopkins” is still in press and is an amazing record given the conditions under which it was recorded and worth seeking out. He recorded quite a number of blues musicians including Pink Anderson, Billy Boy Arnold, Baby Tate, Homesick James, Jesse Fuller, Junior Wells, Buddy Guy, James Cotton, Otis Spann, Juke Boy Bonner, Robert Pete Williams, Big Joe Williams, Siegel-Schwall Band, Eddie Boyd, Otis Rush, Champion Jack Dupree and Memphis Willie B to name just a few. He also produced all of Country Joe & The Fish’s LPs. Perhaps one of his most important production achievements was the Chicago/The Blues/Today! series which was originally released as 3 LPs on the Vanguard label in the mid-1960s. This is essential blues that belongs in every blues fans collection. Each LP/CD featured 3 bands, many of them not under contract at the time, and is ….

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Honeyboy Edwards Interview

10/5/12 4:41 PM | Art Schuna

honeyboy edwards   I had the privilege of interviewing David Honeyboy Edwards in October 2003. It was a remarkable in that although he was 88 years old at the time, he had an amazing recall of events from his lifetime going back to the earliest days of his life as a blues artist. He got his start in the pre-war era and learned how to busk on the streets from Big Joe Williams. He was one of the last living blues musicians who was a contemporary of Robert Johnson and performed with him. He knew many of the blues greats from the pre-war era. His interview covers not only discussions about many of the bluesmen he worked with over the years but also what life was like at that time. He talks about hoboing to travel from town to town and being harassed by the police. He also talks about his life as a gambler and how to cheat at dice. Honeyboy wrote a book about his life, “The World Don’t Owe Me Nothing” published by Chicago Review Press which is still in press and is definitely worth tracking down as there are very few autobiographies of blues performers from this era. I had the good fortune of seeing Honeyboy in performance on a number of occasions. The last was the next to the last time he ever performed in public at Folklore Village in Dodgeville. He was 95 yeas old. He was joined by Michael Frank, owner of Earwig records who released a number of Honeyboy’s recordings including “Delta Bluesman”, which has his first recording for Alan Lomax and the Library of Congress together with more contemporary recordings. All of his recordings are worth having. A few of my favorites are “Mississippi Delta Bluesman” released on the Smithsonian-Folkways label originally in 1970. “Don’t Mistreat A Fool” on the Genes label, “Shake Em On Down” on APO and “White Windows” on Evidence are also favorites. We lost Honeyboy August 29,2011. It marked the end of an era as he was probably the last pre-war performer and the last direct connection to blues artists of that era. Click on the title above to go to the interview.  

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Bob Koester Turns 80, Delmark’s 60th Anniversary

10/5/12 11:21 AM | Art Schuna

bob koester     Bob Koester celebrates his 80th birthday this month and his record label, Delmark is celebrating its 60th year in the business. Bob also owns the Jazz Record Mart pictured here. Bob became interested in blues and jazz as a collector of 78 rpm records. He started a record store called Delmar Records named for the street it was located on, Delmar Avenue in St. Louis. Bob first recorded a trad jazz band and then went on to seek out blues performers living in the St. Louis area including Speckled Red, Big Joe Williams, JD Short and James Crutchfield. The label had to change its name from Delmar to Delmark due to copyright issues. Bob moved to Chicago and purchased Seymour’s Jazz Record Mart. I first visited Jazz Record Mart in the 1970s when it was located at West Grand Ave, not far from ‘The Magnificent Mile” on Michigan Avenue. It’s moved a few times since then. Currently located at 27 E. Illinois St, not far from that Grand Avenue location. The store has always carried an amazing inventory of jazz and blues recordings, including both new and used items as well as label overstock and discontinued items. I can usually spend hours going through the bins and dropped a lot of money there over the years. The upside is I often find things I couldn’t find anywhere else. Big Joe Williams used to live in the basement at the Grand Avenue location when he was in Chicago. His 9 string guitar was on display in a showcase at the store at one time. Bob says Delmark has been a labor of love with the record store serving as a cash cow to provide money to produce new records. Delmark has continued to turn out an amazing catalog of blues recordings by performers including Big Joe Williams, Sleepy John Estes, Junior Wells, Magic Sam, Luther Allison and Jimmy “Fast Fingers” Dawkins to name just a few. Delmark is the longest running independent blues and jazz label in the country. This interview was recorded around the time of Bob’s 70th birthday and Delmark’s 50th anniversary as a record label. Click on the title to go to the interview.

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09/29/12 10:50 AM | Art Schuna

art radio shot 1-08 I have been co-hosting Two For The Blues since January 1997. I initially did the show with Bonnie Kalmbach who originated the show in January 1976. After she retired from the airwaves, Dave Leucinger took over the co-hosting duties. Growing up in Northern Wisconsin, I was first introduced to the blues on AM radio in the 1950s when Slim Harpo and Jimmy Reed crossed over to the pop record charts. In the 1960s, British Invasion bands were playing blues tunes I liked but it took me years before I heard the original versions. I remember the first time I heard Howlin’ Wolf. I didn’t like it. It was just too raw compared to versions done by rock bands. In the 1970s I tired of much of the music played on commercial radio. I began looking for the origins of rock & roll and in the process rediscovered the blues. It was music that spoke to me. Soon it became a passion and I’ve never looked back. I read about and listen to blues music from the entire recording history of this music which now spans 10 decades. My show is an extension of my exploration of the blues which continues to this day. Over the years I’ve had opportunities to interview many of the blues greats and some of these interviews may be found at [WEB LINK HERE]. I play music from all eras of the blues and all styles. I have a special love of the 1940s and 1950s jump blues styles that so heavily influenced what came to be called rock and roll and that music usually opens each of my shows. I hope at least a few of my listeners will discover music that means as much to them as it does to me.  

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Two for the Blues
Two for the Blues
Saturdays @ 8:00 pm
G Man, Dave Leucinger, Art Schuna, Various Hosts
Blues from the 1920s to the present with a little zydeco and southern soul added to the mix, hosted by Art Schuna and Dave Leucinger. Since 1999, the show has done special features on blues artists including interviews discussing their careers and music. Unfortunately, we can't give you the music without violating copyright acts but we can give you the interviews.
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