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JERRY LAWSON

JUST A MORTAL MAN

The ‘Jerry Lawson Legacy Project,’ an exclusive series for Blues America, explores the history of Jerry Lawson and the legendary Persuasions in chronological order as explained in a biographical commentary by Jerry and Julie Lawson with special guests.

Jerry Lawson is arguably one of the most important figures in the genre of a’cappella (singing without the use of instrumental accompaniment). For more then 40 years, Lawson was the lead singer, producer, arranger and founding member of the Persuasions, the most famous a’cappella group to date, and the only performers of their genre to earn worldwide mainstream success. Jerry Lawson and the Persuasions have undoubtedly done more to popularize a’capella then anyone else before or since. Lawson launched a solo career in 2004 soon after releasing an album with Talk of the Town and appearing on CBS's the Sing-Off. At the age of 71, he is releasing his first solo album on Nashville Red Beet Records, 'Just a Mortal Man.'

Blues America is a public radio series broadcasting weekly from the Chico Chism Studio in Phoenix and providing an outlet for Blues artists to share their stories. There's nothing like it!

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68

Show 68: Oct 21 to Oct 27, 2016

BILLY BOY ARNOLD

OCT

2016

Billy Boy Arnold is one of a handful of musicians still standing to talk about the vibrant and important Chicago blues scene of the 1950’s. He was first inspired by John Lee Sonny Boy Williamson who he considered to be the most important purveyor of modern blues harmonica. After several meetings with Sonny Boy, while only a teenager, he cut his first two sides for the cool label before meeting Ellas McDaniel. Soon after, Arnold was in the studio with McDaniel cutting the two-sided smash “Bo Diddley/I'm a Man” for Checker which forever branded McDaniel with the moniker, Bo Diddley. This session led to Arnolds own hits for Veejay Records, “I Wish You Would” and “I Ain’t Got You.” Both hits put Arnold on the map and were later covered by British rockers the Yardbirds.

MUST LISTEN

78

Show 78: JAN 13 to JAN 20, 2017

CEDRIC BURNSIDE PROJECT

JAN

2017

Cedric Burnside is a 4-time Blues Music Award Drummer of the Year who grew-up in rural Northern Mississippi, without a TV or radio, across the street from Junior Kimbrough’s Juke Joint and under the wing of his famous Grandfather, RL Burnside. After many years of touring and recording with RL Burnside, Cedric continued to keep hill country blues alive with his own endeavor, the Cedric Burnside Project featuring his lifelong friend, guitar ace Trenton Ayers. Trenton is the son of Junior Kimbrough guitarist, Little Joe Ayers. Together the dynamic duo has released a handful of critically acclaimed albums with the latest effort being Descendants of Hill Country which was nominated for a Grammy Award.    

83

Show 83: FEB 17 to FEB 23, 2017

BOBBY RUSH

FEB

2017

Speaking backstage with the “King of the Chitlin’ Circuit”, the Living Legend, Bobby Rush. One of the last of his era, Rush estimates that he has cut over 337 sides since he first began making music. After being honored with three Grammy nominations, he accepted his first Grammy trophy for his newest sensational Rounder Records release “Porcupine Meat.” Bobby has also racked up 41 nominations and 10 awards from the Blues Foundation, and a 2006 induction into the Blues Hall of Fame. The creator of “Folk-Funk” scored his first gold record with the 1971 immortal hit classic “Chicken Heads.”  

85

Show 85: MAR 03 to MAR 09, 2017

THORNETTA DAVIS

MAR

2017

Thornetta Davis is the reigning Queen of Detroit Blues whose latest album “Honest Woman” has been climbing the music charts and earned her two Blues Music Award nominations. She confesses that her recent studio effort that has earned national critical acclaim was 20 years in the making. She was mentored by the great late Alberta Adams. The Queen has also had her music featured on the hit cable series Sopranos and has performed many times with Bob Seger, Kid Rock and Iggy Pop.

84

Show 84: FEB 24 to MAR 02, 2017

ELVIN BISHOP

FEB

2017

Elvin Bishop is a living legend whose great contributions to American music have been solidified by his induction into the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame followed soon after by the Blues Hall of Fame. He played a significant role in the success of the Paul Butterfield Band as a founding member and the lead guitarist on three classic albums during the 1960's before becoming a regular at the famed Fillmore Auditorium jam sessions alongside Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton and BB King. Elvin had a top Billboard smash hit in 1976 with the gold record “Fooled Around And Fell In Love” which was prominently featured in a recent blockbuster film. Following his 2014 Grammy-nominated album, his new critically acclaimed release is called “Big Fun Trio” out now on the Alligator record label.

88

Show 88: MAR 31 to APR 06, 2017

TRUDY LYNN

APR

2017

Trudy Lynn is considered by many to be the reigning Queen of Houston Blues. She cut her teeth as a singer for Clarence Green, Johnny Copeland and Albert Collins before becoming a franchise artist on the Atlanta based Ichiban Records during the 90’s where several of her albums charted on the US Billboard R&B. She has continued to record strong through the 2000’s to present day racking up many Blues awards nominations along the way to her latest studio effort, “I’ll Sing the Blues for You.”

92

Show 92: APR 28 to MAY 04, 2017

STEVIE J BLUES

APR

2017

Stevie J Blues is a veteran blues guitarist from Jackson, Mississippi who cut his teeth on the scene with the likes of Denise LaSalle, Shirley Brown, Dorothy Moore, Mel Waiters and toured with Bobby Rush for five years. He is the son of a sanctified preacher but considers Bobby Rush as his “blues father.” He’s featured as a session player on multiple Bobby Rush albums. Stevie can be seen in the Martin Scorsese series, “The Blues.” His new album, “Back 2 Blues” is the third solo studio effort and represents a modern sound for the contemporary blues category.  

93

Show 93: MAY 05 to MAY 11, 2017

SHARON LEWIS

MAY

2017

Sharon Lewis is a Chicago blues diva who’s commanding vocals and strong song writing is celebrated on her second studio effort for Delmark Records, ‘Grown Ass Woman.’ Sharon arrived to Chicago via Texas and has made a big impact on the local scene since going pro during the 90’s. Since then, she was mentored by Son Seals and shared the stage with the who’s who of blues legends before becoming friends with the famed British folk-rock band, Mumford & Sons. Sharon remains in high demand on the international circuits and has been nominated for numerous prestigious awards. She holds dual undergraduate degrees from Northwestern University.

93R

Show 93R: May 11 to May 18, 2017

HENRY GRAY

MAY

2017

This week your host, Drew Verbis is escorting Henry Gray to Memphis to receive his induction into the Blues Hall of Fame. 92 year old multi Grammy-nominated blues piano master, Henry Gray, is a living legend and a national treasure whose recording career spans seven decades. Despite his vibrant solo career, he is often remembered for his significant contribution to post-war Chicago blues during his time as a session player for Chess Records and a member of the Howlin’ Wolf band. In 2016, shortly after the release of his critically acclaimed Delta Groove Records called ‘The Blues Won’t Let Me Take My Rest,’ Henry was awarded a lifetime achievement award in Chicago.

May 10 2017

Drew at Henry's house in Baton Rouge

May 10 2017

Drew and Henry Memphis Bound

May 10 2017

Henry finds a Piano in Memphis

May 10 2017

Henry is inducted into the Hall of Fame

94

Show 94: MAY 18 to MAY 25, 2017

PRIMER & CORRITORE

MAY

2017

John Primer and Bob Corritore are two of the top names in the blues who celebrate their sophomore studio collaboration for Delta Groove Records with “Ain’t Nothin You Can Do.” John Primer is a living legend who credits Sammy Lawhorn as a mentor and cut his teeth on the tough Chicago scene with Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon and Magic Slim before breaking out as a dynamic and popular solo artist. His album “Muddy Waters 100” was nominated for a Grammy award and was widely regarded as the best blues album of 2015. Bob Corritore is a well-respected producer who has emerged as one of the top sidemen in the business. His versatility on the harmonica can summon the spirit of Walter Horton or shuffle with his contemporary peers.

95

Show 95: JUN 02 to JUN 08, 2017

SELWYN BIRCHWOOD

JUN

2017

Florida native Selwyn Birchwood cut his teeth touring with his neighbor, blues legend Sonny Rhodes before breaking out on his own and earning the top spot in the 2013 International Blues Challenge. Alligator records quickly picked up the rising fiery guitar trailblazer and released his debut, ‘Don’t Call No Ambulance’ which earned several awards. He’s celebrating his second studio effort, ‘Pick Your Poison’ which crafts authentic traditional blues sounds with contemporary innovations to make a bold statement.  Selwyn is one of the most exciting talents in the blues.

96

Show 96: JUN 16 to JUN 22, 2017

STEVE KRASE

JUN

2017

Producer and harmonica ace Steve Krase is a Houston transplant from Long Island, New York. He cut his teeth with Houston legends Big Walter Price, Jerry Lightfoot and Trudy Lynn before fronting a solo career. Along the way he spearheaded the label, Connor Ray Music which has been involved in capturing some of the greats like, Pete Mayes and released a variety of contemporary and traditional blues including some of Trudy Lynn’s best work.

97

Show 97: JUN 22 to JUN 29, 2017

BILL & SHY PERRY

JUN

2017

Bill "Howl-N-Madd" Perry cut his teeth on the gospel scene behind the Blind Boys of Alabama and Shirley Caesar before touring with Little Milton. Later the Mississippi native was seen behind Freddie King, Little Richard, Cash McCall, Johnnie Taylor and T-Bone Walker before breaking out on his own and cutting several fine records over the years. In 2009, he acted alongside Cuba Gooding Jr and Clarence William III in the major motion film, The Way of War. Today Howl-N-Madd Perry is considered a living legend who tours extensively with his daughter, the rising blues star, Sharo “Shy” Perry. In 2011, Bill was imprinted on the 143rd Mississippi Blues Trail marker posted in downtown Oxford, Ms.

98

Show 98: JUL 04 to JUL 13, 2017

JIMI "PRIMETIME" SMITH

JUL

2017

Jimi Primetime Smith was groomed to join the family business made famous by his mother, Chicago Blues legend Johnnie Mae Dunson “The Big Boss Lady.” He learned blues guitar directly from a master, the great late Jimmy Reed who lived in Jimi’s childhood home for a short period. Other legends, such as GL Crocket, Koko Taylor, Eddie Taylor, JB Hutto and Hubert Sumlin would also frequent his home. Later, as a teen he performed with Jimmy Reed on stage during some of Reed’s most memorable performances; including the famed Ann Arbor Blues Festival. Smith lived in Minneapolis for a number of years were he was considered one of the top performers and developed a close working relationship with the legendary Big Walter Smith who often introduced Jimi as his son.

99

Show 99: JUL 14 to JUL 20, 2017

HARRISON KENNEDY

JUL

2017

Canadian-born Harrison “Sweet-Taste” Kennedy is a multi-instrumentalist and a founding member of the famed Detroit R&B-Pop band Chairmen of the Board who scored a number of hits including the 1969 chart topper, “Give Me Just Little More Time.” The late great Sonny Terry taught him how to play the harmonica during his early teens. After many years with his band, Harrison naturally gravitated towards the blues following in his uncle’s footsteps, Canada’s legendary music pioneer, Jackie Washington.  Harrison’s childhood home wash filled with legendary musicians and famous visitors such as Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday and Lonnie Johnson. In 2016, Harrison won a Juno award for “Blues Album of the Year.”

100

Show 100: JUL 28 to AUG 04, 2017

SUGARAY RAYFORD

JUL

2017

Standing 6’ 5” 300 pounds, Sugaray Rayford is a formidable force. Critics consider Sugaray Rayford to be one of the greatest and last blues shouters; in the same league, as: Big Mama Thornton, Jimmy Rushing, Big Joe Turner. His critically acclaimed sophomore release was on Delta Groove and featured a host of famed talent, including Kim Wilson and Kid Anderson. Rayford’s powerful voice also leads the all-star revue project, The Mannish Boys appearing on their last two albums and winning a Blues Award in 2013. He’s been nominated for numerous B.B. King entertainer of the year awards considering his hard-working tour schedule, fine body of solo work and high profile featured performances on some of the industry’s top charting albums.

Heard on this Episode

BRAND

New Blues

The Nighthawks

Ninety Nine

All You Gotta Do

Eller Soul

2017

BLUES at

The Break

WAY WAY

Back Blues

Blind Teddy Darby

The Girl I Left Behind

912112-A-De

Decca Records

1937

 

BLUES

Soundbite

Roscoe Gordon

Film Documentary

Tales From Beale Street

2002

BLUES

KickOff

Linsey Alexander

Why I Sing the Blues

Two Cats

Delmark Records

2017

The Cashbox Kings

If you Gotta Jeaoulous..

Royal Mint

Alligator Records

2017

102

Show 102: AUG 11 to AUG 17, 2017

LINSEY ALEXANDER

AUG

2017

Linsey “Hoochie Man” Alexander has been a fixture on Chicago’s Northside blues scene for decades. He has a knack for writing colorful and provocative songs to present an authentic and modern offering that is upbeat with a party atmosphere while continuing to promote the traditional blues format. He celebrates his latest Delmark Records studio release “Two Cats” marking his third release for the famed Chicago label.  Before breaking out as a solo artist, he performed with Buddy Guy, AC Reed, Magic Slim and BB King.

 
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