Tag Archives: Chicago

Johnny Nicholas: Blues Guitar Legend



Nicholas grew up in Rhode Island, United States, where he formed his first band, The Vikings. The band performed cover versions of popular rhythm and blues hits of the time, along with songs by the Rolling Stones. In the mid-1960s, he formed the Black Cat Blues Band with Duke Robillard, Fran Christina and Steve Nardella. Around 1970, he formed the Boogie Brothers with Nardella. After attending the Ann Arbor Blues Festival in 1970, the band eventually moved on to San Francisco, California in 1972 per-request of Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen.

By 1974, Nicholas had moved to Chicago, Illinois and began playing with Big Walter Horton. During his time in Chicago, he would record music with Horton, Boogie Woogie Red and Robert Lockwood, Jr. In 1974, he created his own single, “Too Many Bad Habits” for Blind Pig Records. Moving to Providence, Rhode Island, he formed his own band, Johnny Nicholas and the Rhythm Rockers, which included Kaz Kazanoff on saxophone, Terry Bingham on drums, Sarah Brown on bass guitar and Ronnie Earl on electric guitar.

Nicholas began his stint with Asleep at the Wheel in 1978, when the band asked him to perform with them. During his off time, he would travel to various cities for solo shows, but would often visit Louisiana to play with Link Davis and Cajun accordion player Nathan Abshire.

By 1980, however, Nicholas decided to take time off from music in order to raise a family.  in 1991 Nicholas returned to recording blues music with Johnny Shines and Snooky Pryor on the album Back to the Country. After returning to music, Johnny has released one studio album and three live albums on Topcat Records while also returning to regular live shows.


Bill Kirchen of Commander Cody’s Lost Planet Airmen



In 1969, Kirchen took Commander Cody and the Lost Planet Airmen to California and they developed a reputation as musical “outlaws” that were praised by other outlaw musicians and bands like Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, The Grateful Dead and the Allman Brothers Band.Kirchen’s band “played a collection of rock ‘n’ roll, hard-core country, boogie and rockabilly sounds produced in a “high-octane mix” that made them a “happening” group in the San Francisco Bay area.

Kirchen began to develop as guitarist, vocalist, songwriter and performer. He became known for his vocal and guitar work on such songs as “Mama Hated Diesels”, “Down to Seeds and Stems Again Blues” from the band’s albums, Hot Licks, Cold Steel & Truckers’ Favorites and Lost in the Ozone. His live performance work was captured on the 1973 album Live From Deep in the Heart of Texas, recorded at the Armadillo World Headquarters in 1973.Kirchen’s Commander Cody band broke apart in 1976 and he formed a “swing orchestra” called the Moonlighters and began a decades-long collaboration with British musician Nick Lowe. Lowe produced the Moonlighters’ second album Rush Hour, and Kirchen toured with Lowe and joined him in the studio from time to time. During this period Kirchen also worked on albums with Elvis Costello, Gene Vincent, and Link Wray.

Kirchen was one of the musicians that pioneered the Americana movement in the 1980s, and also with being a founding father of “twangcore,” along with Dave Alvin, Wilco and Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys. Kirchen’s signature sound has been dubbed “dieselbilly” and incorporates elements of country, blues, rockabilly, Western swing and boogie-woogie, laced with themes of American truck driving music. Kirchen’s work in the early 1970s with Commander Cody and the Lost Planet Airmen helped set the stage for the singers like Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson and other outlaw country bands with his recordings of songs like “Seeds And Stems.”Kirchen is said to have “one of the most distinctive, pure-Fender Telecaster tone guitar sounds in modern music”.

Kirchen was named “The Titan of The Telecaster” by Guitar Player magazinefor his musical prowess on the Fender Telecaster guitar. He played a 1959 model with a maple fretboard and sunburst finish that he calls the “coal burner” and acquired in 1967 when he exchanged his Gibson SG with a stranger on a bus.He retired that guitar in the early 2010s in favor of a Telecaster with a wider neck.


Mark Answers Listener Questions



Grammy Nominee, Blues Award Winner, Author, Harp Man Mark Hummel had a banner year in 2014. Grammy Nominated for his Remembering Little Walter CD he produced and performed on, Mark also won Best Blues CD and Best Traditional Blues CD at the Blues Music Awards in Memphis, TN. Mark’s The Hustle Is Really On climbed to #2 and stayed in the top five for four months on the Living Blues Radio Charts. Hummel’s book “BIG ROAD BLUES:12 Bars on I-80” garnered rave reviews and was nominated for best Independent Book release. Mark Hummel started playing harmonica in 1970 and is considered one of the premier blues harmonica players of his generation. Thanks to over thirty recordings since 1985, including the Grammy nominated 2013 release Blind Pig recording Remembering Little Walter (part of the Blues Harmonica Blowout CD series). Mark Hummel’s Blues Harmonica Blowout™ started in 1991 and have featured every major legend (Mayall, Musselwhite, Cotton, etc.) on blues harp as well as almost every player of note on the instrument – a who’s who of players. Hummel is a road warrior – a true Blues Survivor. Along the way, he has crafted his own trademark harmonica sound – a subtle combination of tone, phrasing and attack combined with a strong sense of swing. Mark has been with Electro Fi Records since 2000, releasing five CDs. Thanks to Mark’s earlier albums, constant touring and appearances at the major blues festivals, he’s firmly established his solid reputation around the US and Europe. Born in New Haven, CT but raised in Los Angeles. Mark moved to Berkeley at age 18 to pursue a career in blues music, where he felt the music was taken more seriously. Mark started the Blues Survivors in 1977 with Mississippi Johnny Waters. By 1984 Hummel began a life of non- stop touring of the US, Canada and overseas, which he still continues at least 130-150 days out of each year. Hummel has toured or recorded with blues legends Charles Brown, Charlie Musselwhite, Lowell Fulson, Billy Boy Arnold, Carey Bell, Lazy Lester, Brownie McGhee, Eddie Taylor, Luther Tucker and Jimmy Rogers.

www.markhummel.com


Harmonica Great: Corky Siegel



Corky Siegel is known internationally as one of the worlds great blues harmonica players, blues pianist, singer-songwriter, creator of CHAMBER BLUES and the sole pioneer/composer of award-winning revolutionary works that weave blues and classical forms together. Co-founder of the SIEGEL-SCHWALL BAND, and Blues Hall of Fame Inductee, Corky Siegel has a catalogue of recordings on RCA, Vanguard, Alligator, and million selling blues/classical recordings on the iconic classical label Deutsche Grammophon. His close associations with the blues masters in the earlier days of Chicago blues, his essential part in the blues rock revolution, and his surprising success in bringing together blues and classical audiences make him a pivotal (though inconspicuous) figure in modern music history. “under appreciated national treasure” – DOWNBEAT MAGAZINE. 

Corky Siegel


Rick Estrin of The Nightcats



Estrin was born in San Francisco, California in 1949, and fell in love with blues after his sister presented him with Ray CharlesThe Genius Sings The Blues when he was 12. He began playing harmonica at age 15, and by age 18 was beginning to work professionally. Early in his career he played with Lowell Fulson, Z.Z. Hill, Travis Phillips, and Fillmore Slim. Estrin names Sonny Boy Williamson II, Little Walter Jacobs and Baby Boy Warren as key inspirations.  He played with and was mentored by Rodger Collins (whose 45rpm recordings include “She’s Looking Good” and “Foxy Girls” In Oakland). Estrin moved to Chicago when he was 19 and worked with bluesmen Sam Lay, Johnny Littlejohn, Eddie Taylor and Johnny Young.  He met and sat in with Muddy Waters at the Sutherland Hotel in Chicago. He told the Sacramento Bee, “Muddy started shaking his finger in my face and said, ‘You outta sight, boy! You play like a man! I know that sound. That’s my sound.’” Muddy tried to hire Estrin as a sideman but Estrin did not receive the phone call, and moved back to the Bay Area. He met guitarist Charlie Baty in 1973 and they created Little Charlie & the Nightcats based in Sacramento, California. Estrin fronted Little Charlie & the Nightcats for 30 years and performed around the world. They were nominated four times for the Blues Music Award for Band of the Year. In 2008, Baty retired from touring. Guitarist Kid Andersen joined Estrin with previous band members Hansen and Farrell and they formed Rick Estrin & The Nightcats that same year.  

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Special Guest – John Primer



John Primer  is an American Chicago blues and electric blues singer and guitarist who played behind Junior Wells in the house band at Theresa’s Lounge and as a member of the bands of Willie Dixon, Muddy Waters and Magic Slim  He recorded with Muddy and the Rolling Stones at Buddy Guy’s Checkerboard Lounge in 1981, a concert that was eventually released as an award-winning DVD, before launching an award-winning career as a front man, carrying forward the traditional Windy City sound into the 21st century.

johnprimerblues.com


Special Guest Jim Pugh



Jim Pugh’s international performing music career spans 40 years and includes multiple Grammy Award, platinum and gold records. He has recorded and performed with a star-studded array of musicians including B.B. King, Etta James, John Lee Hooker, Robert Cray, Boz Skaggs, Syl Johnson and Van Morrison. He created Little Village Foundation in 2014 to share the diverse music that has always inspired him and to help other artists, especially musicians no one would learn about without Little Village Foundation’s support.


Special Guest Diunna Greenleaf



Diunna Greenleaf, the leader of Blue Mercy, is a native Texan (Houston) who has a background steeped in gospel music. Influenced by the likes of Koko Taylor, Aretha Franklin, Rosetta Thorpe, Sam Cooke, Charles Brown and her own parents Ben & Mary Ella Greenleaf (Gospel). She has developed “Diunna’s style of Blues” in the same tradition as so many other great Texas blues men and women. She combines intricate patches of jazz, gospel and heartfelt soul to create a kind blues that takes one on an emotional roller coaster ride.


Special Guest Jim Pugh



Jim Pugh’s international performing music career spans 40 years and includes multiple Grammy Award, platinum and gold records. He has recorded and performed with a star-studded array of musicians including B.B. King, Chris Isaac, Etta James, John Lee Hooker, Robert Cray, Boz Skaggs, Syl Johnson and Van Morrison. He created Little Village Foundation in 2014 to share the diverse music that has always inspired him.

Jim Pugh

http://markhummel.com


Live from The Backroom in Berkeley California



Mark Hummel brings together some of the top blues players in history for his Chicago Blues Party at the Backroom in Berkeley California.  The supergroup includes:

Mark Hummel – Harmonica/Vocals

Oscar Wilson – Vocals

Joe Beard – Guitar/Vocals

Billy Flynn – Guitar

Wes Starr – Drums

Randy Bermudes – Bass