Nombre total de pages vues

jeudi 23 septembre 2021




For this new portrait of Louisiana's musicians, let's put the focus on the singer and sometimes guitar and harmonica player Joe Johnson. It's certainly not an easy task for there are very few features in the Blues literature about this singer who, despite having recorded at least 18 tracks, between Swamp blues and Soul, has not been well documented.

Joseph Lee Johnson was born in Independence, La. on January 9, 1942 but seems to have moved to Greensboro, La. at an early age. He started playing guitar and harmonica and singing with Guitar Grady's Strings of Rhythm R&B group around 1959 in Louisiana and Texas clubs. It's probably through Grady that Joe Johnson recorded his first sessions in 1966 for Jay D. Miller at his Crowley's studio, two tracks being issued on the Abet label Dirty woman blues/ Santa bring my baby back to me. Two other titles, very much into the Swamp blues style, remained in the vaults for a decade before being issued by the wonderful British Flyright label in the 1970's.

            But in 1967, Johnson's return to Miller's studio gave a very different musical mood: two Soul ballads in the Otis Redding's manner, particularly the vibrant tribute to Otis, Otis is gone. Those records, although not commercially successful, probably convinced Joe to lead his own band with which he recorded more Soul numbers. We found again Johnson several years later in the Malaco's studios in Jackson, Ms, recording for Wardell Quezergue, particularly the very good The blind man which was featured for a short time in some local Southern charts.

            But this small success didn't last and Joe was back in Louisiana, waxing some more records for small labels.

            Joe Johnson seems to have given up his musical career in the early 1980's. According to Bob Eagle, Joe Johnson was a resident of Harvey, a small Louisiana town, in 2010. We have not heard about him since that.

            This Joe Johnson must not be confused with another musician Joe (D.) Johnson, a Texas singer and guitarist who recorded also some fine blues during the 1960's.

            Once again, most of the facts about Joe Johnson, come from the first rate website Sir Shambling, a goldmine of infos on Soul artists.

                                      Gérard HERZHAFT




Joe Johnson, vcl; Guitar Grady, g; Katie Webster, kbds; Lazy Lester, hca on *; Sherman Webster, bs; dms. Crowley, La. 1966

01. Dirty woman blues

02. We're gonna rub

03. Alimonia blues*

04. Santa bring my baby back

Joe Johnson, vcl/hca; Guitar Grady, g; Strings of Rhythm, band. Crowley, La. 1967

05. Otis is gone

06. Got my oil well pumpin'

Joe Johnson, vcl/hca; Guitar Grady, g; band. Dallas, Tx. 1968

07. One horse town

08. Whiskey all night

Joe Johnson, vcl; The Admirations, vcls; band. Gretna, La. 1969

09. Better days and better ways

10. No more worries

Joe Johnson, vcl; band. Jackson, Ms. 1973

11. Perfect love affair

12. Gold digging man

13. Rattlesnake baby rattlesnake

14. The blind man

Joe Johnson, vcl; band. Gretna, La. 1977

15. Nothing like being free

16. Mr Bojangles

17. Can I change my mind?

18. Do unto others



lundi 20 septembre 2021






Daniel Dorsey Overbea naît le 3 janvier 1926 à Philadelphie, Pennsylvanie de Sylvester Overbea et Irene Dorsey, une famille musicale qui officie régulièrement dans leur congrégation. Elevé à Chicago où ses parents ont migré alors qu'il avait sept ans, Danny a eu une éducation musicale poussée à la Du Sable High School où il forme un orchestre, chantant les morceaux du crooner Bing Crosby, alors son idole et devenant progressivement un musicien accompli, compositeur et guitariste capable de jouer n'importe quel morceau.

            Après un service militaire sur le front européen, Danny Overbea revient à Chicago en 1946 et entame immédiatement une carrière musicale professionnelle avec les Three Earls, un groupe vocal pop de Cleveland puis en tant que chanteur et guitariste de l'orchestre du saxophoniste Eddie Chamblee. C'est au sein de cet orchestre que Overbea fait ses débuts discographiques en 1950.

            Mais c'est lors d'une prestation particulièrement réussie au Paris Club sur le West Side en 1952 - Danny est aussi un formidable showman qui joue de la guitare avec les dents, derrière son dos, couché ...- qu'il est remarqué par le DJ et producteur Al Benson qui lui fait signer un contrat et l'enregistre, les disques sortant sur le label Checker. Train train train est immédiatement un énorme succès national, suivi l'année suivante en 1953 de plusieurs autres morceaux marquants (Stop time, 40 cups of coffee - que reprendra Bill Haley), cette fois gravés en compagnie du bel ensemble de King Kolax. Pendant quelques années, Overbea participe à plusieurs tournées nationales de R&B notamment avec Count Basie, Dinah Washington, Cootie Williams ou les Moonglows et figure dans les célèbres programmes télévisés de Alan Freed.

            Mais ces succès ne se répètent plus les années suivantes et Overbea - du moins dans ses enregistrements pour Chess, Federal, Shep, Apex- essaie de revenir à un répertoire plus orienté vers des ballades, sans résultats commerciaux. Cependant, il continue à se produire dans de nombreux clubs de Chicago et jusqu'en Floride jusque à la fin des années 1960 où, la mort dans l'âme, il doit abandonner la musique pour vivre de divers métiers.

            Un formidable guitariste mais sans doute difficile à catégoriser, Danny Overbea décède le 11 mai 1994 à Chicago, très largement oublié de tous.

            Merci à Marc Claes et Steve W. pour leur aide précieuse.

                                                                       Gérard HERZHAFT


            Daniel Dorsey Overbea was born 3d January 1926 at Philadelphia, the son of Sylvester Overbea and Irene Dorsey, a musical family who played regularly in their local church and around. His parents went to live to Chicago when the young Danny was seven and he was musically educated at the Du Sable High School where he formed a band, playing several instruments, composing, arranging and singing a lot of Bing Crosby's tunes, his first idol.


After his service in Europe during the war, Danny came back to Chicago in 1946 and embarked himself upon a professional musical career, first with the Cleveland vocal group The Three Earls and then as a guitarist and lead singer with tenor-saxophonist Eddie Chamblee's band. This is as a member of Chamblee's group that he made his recording debut in 1950.

            A proficient guitarist and a powerful showman (he played behind his back, with his teeth...), Danny Overbea was contacted by the famous R&B DJ Al Benson who recorded him for the Checker label the Top 10 R&B hit Train, train, train, followed by several strong numbers (Stop time, 40 cups of coffee... this one being covered by Bill Haley) waxed with the no-nonsense King Kolax Orchestra. During a few years, Overbea was very busy, touring nationally with Top R&B acts like Count Basie, Dinah Washington, Cootie Williams or The Moonglows and being featured several time on the famous Rock'n'Roll TV shows by Alan Freed.

            But and despite trying to record more ballads and even pop tunes, the subsequent recordings for Checker, Federal, Shep , Apex... didn't generate any new Hits. For some years, until the end of the 60's, Overbea was still playing in clubs and venues from Chicago to Florida, living on his reputation.

            But the good things didn't last and around 1969, Overbea had to give up music and make a living on several menial jobs.

            A powerful, imaginative guitarist and composer but probably too hard to categorize, Danny Overbea died on 11 May 1994 at his Chicago's home, largely forgotten.

            Thanks a lot to Marc Claes and Steve W. for their help.

                                                           Gérard HERZHAFT



DANNY OVERBEA/ Discographie

Danny Overbea, vcl/g; Eddie Chamblee, t-sax; John Young, pno; bs; dms. Chicago, Ill. 27 juillet 1950

01. Sweet Lucy

02. Laughing boogie

03. This is it

Danny Overbea, vcl/g; Eddie Chamblee, t-sax; John Young, pno; Walter Scott, g; Andrew Harris, bs; Osle Johnson, dms. Chicago, Ill. 28 juillet 1950

04. Every shut eye ain't sleep

Danny Overbea, vcl/g; band. Chicago, Ill. 1951

05. The joke is on me

06. Contrary Mary

Danny Overbea, vcl/g; King Kolax, tpt; Dick Davis, t-sax; b-sax; Prentice Mc Cary, pno; Cowboy Martin, bs; Little Gates, dms. Chicago, Ill. janvier 1953

07. Train train train

08. Train train blues

09. I'll wait

Danny Overbea, vcl/g; King Kolax, tpt; Dick Davis, t-sax; b-sax; Prentice Mc Cary, pno; Cowboy Martin, bs; Little Gates, dms. Chicago, Ill. avril 1953

10. 40 cups of coffee

11. I'll follow you

Danny Overbea, vcl/g; King Kolax, tpt; Dick Davis, t-sax; b-sax; Prentice Mc Cary, pno; Cowboy Martin, bs; Little Gates, dms. Chicago, Ill. septembre 1953

12. I could but I won't

13. Sorrento

Danny Overbea, vcl/g; King Kolax, tpt; Harold Ousley, t-sax; b-sax; Prentice Mc Cary, pno; Cowboy Martin, bs; Leon Hooper, dms. Chicago, Ill. janvier 1954

14. Stomp and whistle

15. Ebony Chant

Danny Overbea, vcl/g; band. Chicago, Ill. avril 1954

16. Roamin' man

17. Hey Pancho

18. You're mine

Danny Overbea, vcl/g; band. Chicago, Ill. 27 septembre 1954

19. A toast to lovers

20. My love my love

Danny Overbea, vcl/g; band. Chicago, Ill. mars 1955

21. Do you love me?

Danny Overbea, vcl/g; band. New York City, décembre 1955

22. My stubborn heart

23. Hear my story

Danny Overbea, vcl/g; Wilbur Wynne, g; Ronald Wilson, t-sax/flt; Billy Wallace, pno; Johnny Pate, bs; Donald Clark, dms. Cincinnati, Oh. 19 mars 1958

24. Space time

25. Candy bar

Danny Overbea, vcl/g; band. Chicago, Ill. février 1959

26. With all my soul

27. Like crazy

Danny Overbea, vcl; Lefty Bates, g; Tommy Jones, t-sax; b-sax; pno; Quinn Wilson, bs; Al Duncan, dms. Chicago, Ill. juin 1959

28. Don't laugh at me

29. Stop

Danny Overbea, vcl/g; Sonny Thompson, pno; band. Cincinnati, Oh. 1961

30. Listen to me singing the blues

31. Book of tears

32. I'm tired of being tossed around

33. Rosebud



lundi 6 septembre 2021

TEXAS BLUES/ Volume 10


TEXAS BLUES/ Volume 10




           The 10the opus of our Texas Blues (Yesterday as usual on this blog!) is more focused on three blues artists who were also (or even more) soul oriented, although they waxed some excellent blues tracks.


            L.C. Steels is mainly known by blues buffs from his great rendition of Magic Sam's instrumental Looking good. But he recorded also a handful of records on his own Steels label that he operated from his Fort Worth home based Steels Record Shop. Those tracks are very often soul blues of high quality. During the 1970's L.C. Steels turned exclusively to Gospel, having his own radio show and recording many Gospel cuts and even crafting a Gospel album with his son L.C. Steels Jr (who could be the lead guitarist on his father's recordings) when he died from Lou Gehrigs disease in 2002. All these infos come from the first rate website Sir Shambling who went in touch with L.C. Steels son and family, thus providing first hand facts.


            Once again all I know about singer and guitarist Fred Lowery comes from the indefatigable Sir Shamblin'. Fred Lowery was the arranger, lead guitarist, writer and sometime singer with more than a hint of Bobby Bland's influence for sax ace Willie "Big Bo" Thomas who recorded a lot of successful dance numbers during the 60's. Lowery recorded also under his own name a dozen of tracks from which we have kept the bluesiest ones. His bio whereabouts are unknown to me. And he certainly not be confused with the white pop and whistler Texan artist of the same name.



Then we have the blues singer and guitarist Joe Hughes (born 29 September 1937 in Houston) who is quite well known for his later great albums for several labels, Black Top, Double Trouble, Munich Records etc... Strongly influenced by T-Bone Walker, Joe started his career as a member of the Dukes of Rhythm alongside Johnny Copeland and later on as a member of Grady Gaines and the Upsetters, a rocking and rolling Houston band which backed Little Richard and many other R&B and Soul acts. As his albums are almost only blues, his former 45s that Hughes recorded for small local outfits are more in a Soul blues vein. His 1980-90's albums paved the way for numerous European tours. Joe Hughes died in his Houston home on 20 May 2003.


            As a bonus we have included some tracks by Lonnie Lyons and Milton Willis that were missing on Texas Blues/ Volume 9. Thanks to our friend Mike from Australia for providing those rare numbers.


                                                           Gérard HERZHAFT


L.C. STEELS, vcl/g; band. Shreveport, La. 1961

01. Come back Betty

02. Don't play no woman for no fool

L.C. Steels, vcl/g; band. Fort Worth, Tx. 1964

03. I always will love you

04. Go ahead baby

L.C. Steels, vcl/g; band. Fort Worth, Tx. 1966

05. Yesterday is already gone

06. Looking good

L.C. Steels, vcl/g; band. Shreveport, La. 1973

07. Losin' boy

08. Pretty black woman

FRED LOWERY, vcl/g; band. Dallas, Tx. 1962

09. Wait and see

10. Goodbye

Fred Lowery, g; Big Bo Thomas, vcl/t-sax; Oscar Perry, pno; Don Williams, bs; James Lynn, dms. Dallas, Tx. 1965

11. Ascot shuffle I & II

12. Boogie chillun

(This Boogie chillun is by The Nitehawks, a Revival band from Illinois. The track was included as a flip of a "reissue" of a title by Big Bo & The Arrows featuring Fred Lowery and that mistook me. Sorry. Anyway, the title is not bad, so I let it on this comp. Thanks to Ballas)

Fred Lowery, vcl/g; Big Bo Thomas, t-sax; The Arrows, band. Dallas, Tx. 1964

13. Thousand miles away

14. I done got over it

Fred Lowery, vcl/g; Big Bo Thomas, t-sax; Oscar Perry, pno; Don Williams, bs; James Lynn, dms. Dallas, Tx. 1966

15. I'm sorry

Fred Lowery, vcl/g; band. Dallas, Tx. 1968

16. Work with me Annie

JOE HUGHES, vcl/g; Henry Hayes, a-sax/t-sax; Cleotis Arch, t-sax; Eddie Solomon, pno; Bill Johnson, bs; Herbert Henderson, dms. Houston, Tx. 1958

17. I can't go on this way

18. Make me dance little ant

Joe Hughes, vcl/g; Curtis Mitchell, tpt; Harold Bennett, a-sax; L.A. Hill, t-sax; Joe Nettles, org; Vernon Heard, bs; Johnny Prejean, dms. Houston, Tx. 22 mai 1963

My pacify

I hope I'll cry

Joe Hughes, vcl/g; Curtis Mitchell, tpt; Harold Bennett, a-sax; L.A. Hill, t-sax; Joe Nettles, org; Vernon Heard, bs; Johnny Prejean, dms. Houston, Tx. 1 août 1963

19. The shoe shy I & II

You think you got it made

Joe Hughes, vcl/g; band. Houston, Tx. 1964

20. May the best man win

21. The rains came

With you

Joe Hughes, vcl/g; band. Houston, Tx. 10 février 1965

22. Where there's a will

23. Can't figure out woman

Joe Hughes, vcl/g; Henry Boatwright, t-sax; Pee Wee Stevens, pno; George Brown, bs; Johnny Prejean, dms. Houston, Tx. 1972

24. Let's shack up

25. Ugly to the bone


BONUS TRACKS (complement to Texas Blues Vol. 9) (Thanks to Mike from Australia)

LONNIE LYONS, vcl/pno; Nelson Mills, tpt; Conrad Johnson, a-sax; Sam Williams, t-sax; Goree Carter, g; Louis Pitts, bs; Allison Tucker, dms. Houston, Tx. juin 1949

26. Lonely heart blues

27. Barrelhouse nightcap

MILTON WILLIS,bs; Elmore Nixon, pno; R.P. Rogers, t-sax; Johnnie Jackson, dms. Houston, Tx. février 1949

28. Lost you

29. Take me back again