Tag Archives: Muddy Waters

Willy & The Planks Play Juke Joint Blues With Spunk & Hypnotic Blues

1 Oct

With their newest album, entitled Willy & The Planks, the overall sound of this band is nothing short of Mississippi and Tennessee influenced bluesy sound. The musical talents of Willy Gibbs on the guitar, Mark Noble on the bass, and Chris Gibbs on the drums, reflect the genuine love of music and affinity for the craft of blues music all in one. The song lyrics of the track below describe the novelty in the south and the environment, feel good feelings, and overall nostalgia wrapped around the music itself.  If listening to the track is not enough, viewing the music video for this track will have you feeling in a whole different blues world and takes you along the fun feeling fueled journey.

For more listening:

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The Deity of British Blues – Alexis Korner

8 Sep

Alexis Korner

Robert Johnson, Charley Patton, Son House, Ma Rainey, Big Bill Broonzy – Names that are forever linked with their god-like status among the propagation of American Blues – an extensive genre that had an indelible impact on the future molding of rock ‘n’ roll.

On the other side of the pond, British jazz musicians and fans became ensconced with the Blues music of musicians like Ma Rainey and Fats Waller, acquiring much of these tunes from African-American GIs stationed there during the Wars. After the Skiffle craze died down in the 1950s, many Skiffle-influenced musicians turned their attention to pure Blues music. Muddy Waters had a shocking electric (literally) visit to England where he shocked Brits with his amplified electric blues. Some were appalled by his lack of reverence for the classic style, but the youth ate up this edgy playing. Among them was a guitarist by the name of Alexis Korner, who, like the Blues ancestors above, would spark a focus on Blues in Britain and influence a slew of rock ‘n’ roll’s greatest musicians. Thus, he too should be considered a true Blues god, and it should come to no surprise that he is often given the moniker of the “Father of British Blues.”

Korner’s elaborate music history is extensive and impactful. It is not easy to keep the plenitude of anecdotes to a minimum, but for the sake of the reader I shall limit my focus to a few stories. Like, for example, in 1969 while touring with a new band, Korner was jamming with a little-known singer named Robert Plant. Jimmy Page, who often performed with Korner at the Marquee Club, was intrigued by Plant’s voice and asked him to join The New Yardbirds…who would soon turn into a rock band called Led Zeppelin with Page and Plant at the helm.

But I am getting ahead of myself. That was in the late 60s. Korner’s career (even though he dabbled in Skiffle) really began in 1961 when he founded Blues Incorporated with Blues harmonica extraordinaire Cyril Davies. Blues Incorporated (like The Yardbirds, John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers, and Cyril Davies’ All-Stars) was an early example of a “supergroup.” But, in truth, it was just a platform for talented blues musicians to play music. Blues Incorporated, though, has the special mark as the first electrified Blues band in Britain. The band secured a residency at the Marquee (mentioned above) and even established an R&B Night at Ealing Jazz Club.

Remember what I said about the youth loving electrified Blues music? Well, where do you think they went to hear this music? And who do you think inspired them to pursue this music? So when I tell you that Korner played with musicians like Jack Bruce, Ginger Baker, Mick Jagger, Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, Paul Jones, Eric Burdon, and many, many others, you should not be too surprised. Most of the early Blues musicians in Britain are linked with Alexis Korner in some way. He is like the Kevin Bacon of British Blues. And when Cyril Davies left Korner to form his All-Stars he played with musicians like Nicky Hopkins and Long John Baldry until he died far too young in 1964. The All-Stars were led by Baldry who created Hoochie Coochie Man, featuring a singer named Rod Stewart. Page also had a few All-Stars jam sessions, adding individuals like Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Bill Wyman, and Mick Jagger to the mix.

But back to Korner for one more story before I urge you to watch this documentary about him.

Blues Incorporated was asked by BBC radio to broadcast a session in the early 60s, but the producer only had room for six musicians. The seventh member of the group with a singer named Mick Jagger. Jagger was asked to gather some friends and play the normal spot at the Marquee. The friends he gathered were Keith Richards, Brian Jones, Ian Stewart on piano, Dick Taylor on bass and Tony Chapman on drums. The band went by the name of  Rollin’ Stones after a Muddy Waters tune.

Cyril Davies on vocals and harmonica. Alexis Korner playing a mean acoustic guitar. Released in November, 1962.

Got My Mojo Working – Muddy and Cole

17 Nov

Mojo Baby Yeah!

 
How weird is it that the last Austin Powers movie was released almost a decade ago? My mojo reference is dated. No, Austin Powers is still a fresh memory. Plus, he is perfect for this post.
 
 
 
“Got My Mojo Working” is a fast-paced, haromica-driven blues song popularized by the great Muddy Waters. His 1957 version of the song became the one that most people cite when they think of this prime example of fast blues. There is no denying it. Muddy’s smooth croon and hedge-like slick black hair make the song slippery and a little dirty. What made Waters’ version so popular was its skilled use of call-and-response and James Cotton’s “I’m better than everyone here” harmonica. It is so proficient it’s scary. But when people say that Muddy Waters created this song, they are mistaken. While he did manipulate elements of this famous blues hit to fit his mold (and this definitely contributed to its popularity), the song was written by Preston Foster and first recorded by Ann Cole in 1956.
 
 
 
Cole’s version is more jump blues than traditional blues. The doo-wop background singers, backing high-pitched guitar, horns, and Cole’s poppy voice contribute to this conclusion. That is not to say that this original version is not good. No, it is great. There were lawsuits (of course) between record companies – claiming that Muddy stole the song after hearing Cole perform it. Whatever, that stuff was settled and it is unimportant. There was, however, a humorous ruling by the court when another performer claimed that songwriter Preston Foster stole the concept of “mojo” from her. This was the ruling:
 
 “MOJO is a commonplace part of the rhetoric of the culture of a substantial portion of the American people. As a figure of speech, the concept of having, or not having, one’s MOJO working is not something in which any one person could assert originality, or establish a proprietary right.
 
Mojo should be shared by all. Now, here is to hoping that the Jets have their mojo working for their Thursday Night Matchup against the Broncos tonight! To sponsor this sentiment here are some more performers showing their mojo off.
 
   – I think I was at this show.
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