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 FEATURES: Delmark's 55th Anniversary 

Delmark Records 55th Anniversary All-Star Chicago Blues Party

Buddy Guy’s Legends

March 7, 2008

click on thumbnails to enlarge photos
Photos by: Jennifer Wheeler

The following is an account of what happened at the big bash, according to Delmark’s  Promotions Director Kevin Johnson:

The house band(s) who worked so hard all night providing perfect support:
Dave Specter with Harlan Terson (bass), Brother John Kattke (keys) and Marty Binder (drums) . And for the majority of the night - Kenny Smith (drums), Roosevelt 'Mad Hatter" Purifoy (keys) and the always smiling Bob Stroger (bass) with Lurrie
handling rhythm and lead guitar like no one else can.

A list of the Delmark artists who performed:
Dave Specter, Jimmy Johnson, The Big DooWopper, Aaron Moore, Johnny B. Moore (!), Little Arthur Duncan, Lurrie Bell, Shirley Johnson, Eddie Shaw, Tail Dragger, Zora Young, and Byther Smith.

We also had special guests Nick and Kate Moss in fantastic support on guitar and bass-especially backing up The Big DooWopper (wow, was DooWopper having a ball, y'all!).  One of the toughest harp players of all, Billy Branch, graced us with his formidable presence on many songs. Branch and our friend Scott Cable (guitarist/producer with Carey Bell, Nappy Brown, Eddie Kirkland) played well with Zora Young (a turning- heads guitar solo from Scott!) and Lurrie Bell. Tail Dragger's set was one of the many highlights, with his outstanding regular guitarist Kevin Shanahan and the underrated Davin "Big D "Erikson and Billy Branch on harp, tearing it up hypnotic Wolf style! Our dear friend and Back Scratcher rhythm guitarist extraordinaire Rick Kreher brought down the house with the charismatic crowd pleaser, the down home house rocker, Little Arthur Duncan. I always enjoy the down home raw gritty blues of both Little Arthur Duncan and Tail Dragger, and both of their sets surpassed my expectation.

There were so many musical highlights to mention (and remember) but a few personal ones for me: the ageless vocalist/guitarist Jimmy Johnson (is he really almost 80!) along with guitarist Dave Specter. I wish those two funk blues masters played together all the time! The premier blues saxophonist/singer Eddie Shaw sounded really great in his set as well- no one knew he had just left the hospital (same with Tail Dragger!) Eddie has the most distinctive sound on that horn, honkin' Blues saxophone at its best. Delmark's blues piano pounders were well represented by the criminally underrated vocalist/pianist Aaron Moore (still sounding great, even in his late '80's!!) and the wild and raw blues/gospel/soul stylings of street musician Big DooWopper! It was a special treat to have both Zora Young and Shirley Johnson grace the stage with their beauty, charisma, and powerful, yet sensitive vocals. Byther Smith closed out the highly successful night, playing the most intense BB King style you can hear these days.

The big surprise of the night was the return of vocalist/guitarist Johnny B. Moore, who had suffered a stroke a few years ago that severely affected him and his playing. He has improved vastly, and although he is definitely not the Johnny B from before (have you heard his incredible playing on the Willie Kent LP from Big Boy Records, "I'm What You Need" from '89- still not on CD?!), he sounded pretty damn good, especially his vocals. It is very encouraging how his health keeps getting better and better- we wish him the best in his recovery. We send our good friend, blues guitar tone king Jimmy Dawkins get well wishes as he was unable to attend due to illness. He sent his best and really wished he could have been there to celebrate.

Bob Koester and Buddy "Friendly Chap" Guy accepted the Grammy Hall of Fame award for Junior Wells' Hoodoo Man Blues on Delmark, arguably the greatest Chicago blues recording of all time. When Vice Chair of the Recording Academy/Grammy rep and Chicago jazz critic Neil Tesser presented the award, Buddy amusingly exclaimed "We were drunk as a Motherf*&(#er" during the Hoodoo Man sessions. Bob made the comment what a pleasure it was working with Junior Wells and what a nice guy he was, which Buddy jokingly disagreed. Bob K was quite moved by the mayor's proclamation of March 7th being declared Delmark Records Day in Chicago!! Thank you to Barry Dolins from the Mayor's Office of Special Events and Mayor Daley!


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