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dimanche 24 janvier 2021

AFBF 1969/ The Complete Sessions





After Al Smith in 1968, the line up of the AFBF 1969 European tour was once again given to a blues producer. This time it was the great Arhoolie's founder and manager Chris Strachwitz who also introduced on stage each artist, mostly bluesmen who had recorded on Arhoolie with the exception of Magic Sam and Carey Bell.

            The Paris show which I attended was quite good with Juke Boy Bonner starting with several of his own compositions and some Jimmy Reed's numbers. As far as I remember, Alex Moore appeared a little frail and, alone on the big concert stage, seemed to be hidden behind his piano, playing more for himself than for the audience. John Jackson followed, certainly the first Piedmont style bluesman to grace those AFBF's. I will have the opportunity to visit Mr Jackson ten years after at his home near Washington DC and he remembered this tour fondly but apologized himself for being too restrained and shy at that time before an European audience that he didn't know previously.


Clifton Chenier and his brother were their usual excellent showmen, introducing himself in French and mocking Chris Strachwitz who "sait pas parler français, le pauvre gars" (can't speak French, the poor boy!). 

Earl Hooker lighted the stage on fire with several instrumentals, displaying a dexterity on his double neck guitar that stunned the audience, singing some numbers with a young Carey Bell who was at that time mostly unknown but blowed like hell.


  Magic Sam closed the show with his trio and played a wonderful driving set that started a thunder of applause. I chatted a little bit with him and he told me to come to visit him in Chicago, telling me he was going to sign a contract with a major label for which he had great expectations. Unfortunately, Sam would die less than two months after this show!

            So, here are the titles from this tour that I've been able to gather for my "Blue Eye" blog.

                                                                       Gérard HERZHAFT



All titles recorded in Europe during October 1969


Juke Boy Bonner, vcl/g/hca.

01. Jumping with Juke Boy

02. Running shoes

Alex Moore, vcl/pno.

03. Across the Atlantic Ocean

John Jackson, vcl/g.

04. Poor boy

05. John Jackson's breakdown

06. You ain't no woman

Clifton Chenier, vcl/acc; Cleveland Chenier, rubboard; Robert St Julien, dms.

07. Zydeco et pas sale (Les haricots sont pas salés)

08. Wrap it up

Earl Hooker, vcl/g; Carey Bell, hca; Mac Thompson, bs; Robert St Julien, dms.

09. Earl's boogie

10. Going up and down

11. Crosscut saw

12. Blue shadows fall

Carey Bell, hca; Earl Hooker, g; Mac Thompson, bs; Robert St Julien, dms.

13. Rocking with chromonica

Magic Sam, vcl/g; Mac Thompson, bs; Robert St Julien, dms.

14. Easy baby

15. Looking good

16. All your love


All photos taken from my programme by Chris Strachwitz, Horst Lippman, Tom Revis.

mercredi 13 janvier 2021

AFBF 1968


AFBF 1968



For the 1968 American Folk Blues Festival European tour, German promoters Lippman and Rau had given to producer, promoter and bandleader Al Smith the task to form a lineup of artists, almost entirely based on Al's roster of bluesmen he had under contract. At that time Al who had been one of the main A&R man at Vee Jay, had launched his own companies like Torrid, Blues on Blues (BOB) and recently Bluesway. Al Smith had just been beginning a several years collaboration with ABC, recording many first rate LPs by several big blues names who had signed a contract with him: John Lee Hooker, T-Bone Walker, Jimmie Reed, Big Joe Williams and a lot of lesser names but certainly not lesser talented.

            So it was natural that those blues stars would form the line up of the AFBF 1968 tour. After the near disaster of 1967, the backing band this time was first rate with guitarist Eddie Taylor, longtime Reed's accompanist (and largely responsible of the best moments of Reed's career), impeccable bassist and drummer Jerome Arnold and J.C. Lewis. Plus the great harmonica of Big Walter Horton who had already been on the AFBF 1965 lineup. Roosevelt Sykes (a long time friend of Al Smith) who was at first scheduled, couldn't appear and was replaced by Curtis Jones who at that time was living permanently in Europe.


The show that I attended in Paris was certainly one of the very best among all of those AFBFs. Everybody was in great form except Jimmy Reed who, probably drunk, stumbled on stage, only saved by the always reliable Eddie Taylor. Big Joe Williams that I never saw less than excellent, was at his greatest this evening. At first, opening the show and the spotlights being badly adjusted, Big Joe, sitting on his stool, tuned his guitar for a long while. His charisma was such that the audience, completely mesmerized by this giant of the blues working on his old battered and well worn 9 string guitar, didn't make a single noise. Suddenly, Joe got up of his stool and wiping his face with a huge handkerchief, asked loudly: "Is somebody out there?". After a great round of applause he whispers " Ah, you

are here!" and he got back on his stool and started to deliver a masterful set. Walter and Eddie Taylor and the band were extremely tight. T-Bone was his usual great and John Lee Hooker, now a big favorite of European stages since 1962, also delivered one of the better set that I've seen from him. The finale was very exciting with T-Bone alternating guitar and piano while Hooker rocked like hell, finishing dancing frantically on stage while the band was following every of his movement.

            Unfortunately, 1968 would be the only AFBF without a record issued! Apparently there were disagreements between German promoters and Al Smith and Al, having almost all the artists under his wing, took back to the USA all the recordings with the idea to issue a double album of the tour on Bluesway in the future. Why didn't this happen? Anyway, Al confirmed this to me when I interviewed him lengthy some months before his untimely death. Those tapes (many hours of it) are somewhere in some unknown vaults with many still unissued Bluesway sessions that Al showed me by Floyd Jones, John Littlejohn, Big Walter and many others.

            So, I've modestly tried for this post to gather whatever possible from this great tour and give a glimpse of what happened during this very successful tour.

Enjoy it!

                                         Gérard Herzhaft


All tracks recorded in Europe October 1968

Big Joe Williams, vcl/g.

01. Baby please don't go

02. Crying shame

Big Walter Horton, hca; Eddie Taylor, g; Jerome Arnold, bs; J.C. Lewis, dms.

03. Juke

Curtis Jones, vcl/pno.

04. Cherie

Jimmy Reed, vcl/g/hca; Eddie Taylor, g; Jerome Arnold, bs; J.C. Lewis, dms.

05. Big boss man

John Lee Hooker, vcl/g; T-Bone Walker, pno; Eddie Taylor, g; Jerome Arnold, bs; J.C. Lewis, dms.

06. Boom boom

07. It serves me right to suffer

08. Maudie

T-Bone Walker, vcl/g/pno; Eddie Taylor, g; Jerome Arnold, bs; J.C. Lewis, dms.

09. I wonder why

10. Stuttgart blues

11. Stormy monday blues

John Lee Hooker, vcl/g; T-Bone Walker, pno; Eddie Taylor, g; Jerome Arnold, bs; J.C. Lewis, dms.

12. Shake it baby

All photos taken from my AFBF 1968's programme by J.P.Leloir, Ambor, Dabrowski, M. Rowe, H. Lippmann



mardi 5 janvier 2021

HONEYBOY EDWARDS/ Complete early recordings 1942-69

 HONEYBOY EDWARDS/ Complete Early Recordings 1942-69

 Honeyboy Edwards a été un acteur important de l'histoire de la migration du blues du Delta vers Chicago. Né à Shaw (Ms) le 28 juin 1915 au coeur du Delta, David Edwards a longuement voyagé avec Robert Johnson et Big Joe Williams, Forgeant son propre style au contact de ces deux compères ainsi que d'autres dont il a croisé la route un moment, tels Charlie Patton, Son House, Tommy Mc Clennan, Tommy Johnson, Robert Petway et bien sûr son voisin Muddy Waters. Guidés par John Work, les Lomax découvrent Edwards en 1942 sur la plantation Stovall où il est manoeuvre agricole et l'enregistrent à Clarksdale. Cette superbe série de titres non commerciaux enregistrés pour la Bibliothèque du Congrès révèlent en Edwards un des plus doués de ces bluesmen du Delta de ces années 1940, avec un jeu de guitare en fingerpicking fluide, imaginatif et substantiellement moderne.
Honeyboy Edwards. Clarksdale 1942
     Comme Muddy Waters, Honeyboy aurait dû émigrer vers Chicago mais il préfère traîner au Texas, le temps de graver un beau Build myself a cave pour un obscur label local. Il remonte à Memphis où il enregistre pour Sam Phillips une des plus belles versions de Sweet home Chicago qui restera inédite pendant deux décennies et qui sera même un temps attribué au pianiste Albert Williams! Mais Edwards est aussi à Chicago, attire l'attention des frères Chess qui le font enregistrer quelques grands titres (Drop down mama) mais décident de ne pas les exploiter pour ne pas concurrencer Muddy Waters! Il reste encore au moins trois titres inédits dans les archives de Chess si celles-ci existent encore quelque part!
            Par la suite, Honeyboy fait partie des premiers Aces avec Fred Below et les frères Myers mais les quitte juste avant qu'ils n'enregistrent. Il est du premier Blues Revival mais la plupart des séances que produit à l'époque Pete Welding resteront aussi inédites. La malchance frappe encore lorsque Honeyboy est en 1969 dans les studios Chess avec Fleetwood Mac et que les deux titres qu'il enregistre alors ne sont pas retenus sur l'album original!
            Heureusement, Honeyboy, grâce à sa longévité, finira par enregistrer plusieurs albums la plupart du temps en solo, apparaître dans les grands festivals, faire des tournées internationales, un des derniers témoins du passage du blues du Delta à celui de Chicago.
            Il décède le 22 août 2011 à Chicago après avoir publié en 1997 sa superbe autobiographie (The world don't owe me nothing) que nous recommandons chaudement.

                                     Gérard HERZHAFT

            Born in Shaw (Ms) on June 28th, 1915, David "Honeyboy" Edwards has known and played with most of his local contemporaries, Robert Johnson, Big Joe Williams, Tommy Mc Clennan, Robert Petway and of course his neighbour Muddy Waters. He also learned from Charlie Patton, Tommy Johnson and Son House, all of whom he met and sometimes played with.
            Lead by African American musicologist John Work, John and Alan Lomax discovered Edwards on Stovall Plantation where David was a sharecropper. Work noted that here was "a skilled blues singer and guitarist as well as a clever young man". Thus Edwards was quite extensively recorded for the Library of Congress during two days of July 1942 in Clarksdale. Those recordings show an excellent singer and a very fluent, imaginative fingerpicking guitarist with a more modern approach than most of his local fellow bluesmen.
            Like Muddy Waters and so many others, Honeyboy should have migrate to Chicago and probably he would have started to record a thicker work and maybe become an important name of the post-war Chicago blues. But instead he preferred to drift here and there, working as a field hand a little bit everywhere in the Southern States and playing his music in juke joints and venues. His recorded output during the 1950's is unfortunately quite thin but of a very high quality. He waxed four sides in Texas (only two were issued), one striking version of Sweet Home Chicago in Memphis for Sam Phillips that will stay unissued for decades and even attributed to piano player Albert Williams (!)... When he hit Chicago in 1953, he eventually recorded for the Chess label four titles that Chess didn't issue because they thought Edwards's style was too close to Muddy Waters', which was of course true. Only one (Drop down mama) has been issued on LP, the remainder lays somewhere in the Chess vaults if there still is such a thing today!
            And that's it for his commercial recordings for the African American blues market! Honeyboy will also ne a member of the Aces with Below and the Myers brothers but once again won't record with them. He'll have to make a living outside of music during the 50's and 60's. And when Pete Welding brought him in the studio in 1964 and 1967 for the new public of the Blues Revival, most of the tracks Honeyboy recorded then would stay unissued until the CD years. In 1969, Edwards is part of the Fleetwood Mac's Chess sessions but - guess what - the two titles he takes as a leader will stay once again in the vaults until the 1990's!
            But at last, during the 1980's, Honeyboy's talents will be recognized. Edwards, as an elder witness of the henceforth legendary road that brought the Delta blues to Chicago and as an old partner of Robert Johnson, will record several CD's, be on major festival stages, tour Europe. He even will write in 1997 a gripping autobiography (The world don't owe me nothing) that should be in all blues libraries.
            Honeyboy Edwards died in Chicago on 22 August 2011.
                                                                       Gérard HERZHAFT

HONEYBOY EDWARDS/ Complete Early Recordings
Honeyboy Edwards, vcl/g/hca. Clarksdale, Ms. 20 juillet 1942
01. Spread my raincoat down
02. Chain Gang song 1 (You got to roll)
03. Chain Gang song 2
04. Stagolee
05. Just a spoonful
06. I love my Jelly roll
07. Hellatakin' blues
08. Worried life blues
09. Water Coast blues
10. The Army blues
11. Tear it down rag
Honeyboy Edwards, vcl/g/hca. Clarksdale, Ms. 22 juillet 1942
12. Wind howlin' blues
13. Roamin' and ramblin' blues
Honeyboy Edwards, vcl/g; Thunder Smith, pno. Houston, Tx. 1950
14. Build a cave
15. Who may your regular be?
Honeyboy Edwards, vcl/g; Albert Williams, pno; Joe Willie Wilkins, g; Dickie Houston, dms; James Walker, wbd. Memphis, Tn. 1952
16. Sweet home Chicago
Honeyboy Edwards, vcl/g; Gus Jenkins, pno; Willie Nix, dms. Chicago, Ill. 9 janvier 1953
17. Drop down mama
Honeyboy Edwards, vcl/g; John Lee Henley, hca. Chicago, Ill. 17 mars 1964
18. My baby's gone
19. Angel Child
20. Highway 61
21. Love me over slow
Honeyboy Edwards, vcl/g. Chicago, Ill. 29 juillet 1967
22. Just like Jesse James
23. Sweet home Chicago
24. Blues like showers of rain
25. Long tall woman blues
26. Love me over slow
27. Crawling kingsnake
28. Skin and bones blues
29. Bull cow blues
30. Worryin' woman blues
Honeyboy Edwards, vcl/g Big Walter Horton, hca; Buddy Guy, g; Peter Green, g; Willie Dixon, bs; Mick Fleetwood, dms. Chicago, Ill. 4 janvier 1969
31. My baby's gone
32. Honeyboy blues