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.
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
The show that I attended in
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.
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
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.
All tracks recorded in
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.
Curtis Jones, vcl/pno.
Jimmy Reed, vcl/g/hca; Eddie Taylor, g; Jerome Arnold, bs; J.C. Lewis, dms.
05. Big boss man
John Lee Hooker, vcl/g;
06. Boom boom
07. It serves me right to suffer
T-Bone Walker, vcl/g/pno; Eddie Taylor, g; Jerome Arnold, bs; J.C. Lewis, dms.
09. I wonder why
11. Stormy monday blues
John Lee Hooker, vcl/g;
12. Shake it baby
All photos taken from my AFBF 1968's programme by J.P.Leloir, Ambor, Dabrowski, M. Rowe, H. Lippmann