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!
WHERE THE BLUES TALKS
THE BLUES IS A FEELING
THE BLUES IS LIFE
THE BLUES IS STORIES AND LEGENDS
THE BLUES IS THE HEART AND SOUL OF AMERICA
IT IS OUR HISTORY AND NATIONAL STANDARD
EVERYTHING STARTED FROM THE BLUES
IT'S TIME NOW FOR BLUES AMERICA
BROADCASTING COAST TO COAST
LET'S TALK ABOUT SOME BLUES, SHALL WE
KEEP THE BLUES ALIVE
Southwest Musical Arts Foundation
FUNDING AND PROMOTIONAL CONSIDERATION MADE POSSIBLE BY:
Show 68: Oct 21 to Oct 27, 2016
BILLY BOY ARNOLD
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.
Show 78: JAN 13 to JAN 20, 2017
CEDRIC BURNSIDE PROJECT
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.
Show 83: FEB 17 to FEB 23, 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.”
Show 84: FEB 24 to MAR 02, 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.
Show 93R: May 11 to May 18, 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
Show 94: MAY 18 to MAY 25, 2017
PRIMER & CORRITORE
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.
Show 95: JUN 02 to JUN 08, 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.
Show 97: JUN 22 to JUN 29, 2017
BILL & SHY PERRY
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.
Show 98: JUL 04 to JUL 13, 2017
JIMI "PRIMETIME" SMITH
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.
Show 99: JUL 14 to JUL 20, 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.”
Show 100: JUL 28 to AUG 04, 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.
Show 102: AUG 11 to AUG 17, 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.
Show 103: AUG 18 to AUG 24, 2017
The San Francisco native cut his teeth as a teen with ZZ Hill, Fillmore Slim, Travis Phillips and Roger Collins before finding a place with the legendary west coast hallmark band, Little Charlie in the Night Cats during the 70’s. Rick became the band leader when Charlie departed in 2008 and released his fourth studio effort for Chicago’s famed Alligator records, “Groovin’ in Greaseland” which features 13 new tracks recorded in the home studio of bandmate wonder kid, Kid Anderson who is a rising blues star in his own right. Rick is self-described as ‘peculiar’ and has won several awards for his extraordinary harmonica talent.
Show 105: SEP 01 to SEP 06, 2017
Joe Nosek is a Wisconsin based harmonica ace and songwriter from Chicago who founded and fronts Chicago’s favorite houserocking party band, the Cash Box Kings. Over the years’ members have included an all-star cast of top-notch players from Oscar “Mr. 43rd St” Wilson, Kenny “Beedy Eyes” Smith to Billy Flynn and the late Barrelhouse Chuck. Their recent smash hit album, ‘Royal Mint’ is the debut studio effort on Chicago’s famed Alligator records following a string of critically acclaimed releases on the Blind Pig record label. Nosek is a self-described blues fanatic who spent his youth soaking up blues music. He took up the harmonica during his teens and quickly cultivated his own aggressive, fluid style.
Show 107: SEP 15 to SEP 23, 2017
Dorothy Ellis is better known by her stage name, Miss Blues. A moniker earned, not in church, but the cotton patches and juke joints of Direct, Texas; a town barely found on the map and where a preacher once declared everyone born there was headed directly to hell. Her mother died before she reached her mid-teens. Broke and hungry, she took a bus as far North as a few cents would take her looking for opportunity and arriving in Oklahoma City. There she fronted a band called the Rockin’ Aces which featured Chuck Berry’s guitarist, D.C. Minner. Today, Miss Blues is considered a legend in Oklahoma and appropriately resides in the Blues Hall of Fame and the Jazz Hall of Fame. Although she hasn’t toured much, she has released a handful of critically acclaimed studio albums.
Show 110: OCT 06 to OCT 12, 2017
Alligator recording artist Tommy Castro is a Westcoast blues legend who is one of the most recognizable names in the business. The 2010 BB King Entertainer of the Year harkens back to a simpler time during his San Jose roots on his latest nostalgic studio album, ‘Stompin’ Ground,’ recorded at Kid Andersens Greaseland studios. Since starting his recording career with Warner Brother’s recording artist, the Dynatones, he’s released 15 solo albums; most of which for Alligator and Blind Pig Records and built a remarkable legacy that includes winning 6 Blues Music Awards, touring with B.B. King, recording John Lee Hookers last session and working as the house band for three seasons of NBC’s comedy showcase.
Heard on this Episode
Sho Nuff I Do
Blues and Boogie
Poor Boy Blues
A Blues Story
We Did It
Waiting for the Train
Cat Food Records
Meet Me in the Bottom
Howlin' at Greaseland
West Tone Records
Show 112: OCT 20 to OCT 26, 2017
Johnny Rawls is a Southern Mississippi soul-blues legend who cut his teeth with ZZ Hill, and Joe Tex before becoming O.V. Wright’s band leader. After O.V.’s death he led Little Johnny Taylor’s band before launching a solo career and scoring several hit records, Red Cadillac and Lucy (Get Juicy). Rawls has been featured on many magazine covers and in 2009 was honored with a Blues Trail Marker next to Tyrone Davis and Little Milton, located at the original site of the Hi Hat Club in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. He has been nominated for 14 Blues Music Awards.