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 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 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.
Show 113: OCT 27 to NOV 03, 2017
Rockin Johnny cut his teeth on the Chicago scene with the likes of Jewtown Burkes and the Taildragger. Since then he’s released 7 critically acclaimed albums, most on famed Delmark Records. Johnny led one of the most requested house bands in Chicago working with Billy Boy Arnold, Jimmie Lee Robinson, Willie Buck, Paul De Lay and many more, before relocating to California. He just released his second studio effort as a Californian, both recorded at the renowned Greaseland. His latest is Neoprene Fedora, a theme which represents his assimilation into Westcoast culture. The album features Kid Andersen, Aki Kumar and Alabama Mike among others and features a smashing version of Johnny Littlejohn’s ABC hit, Guitar King.
Show 115: NOV 10 to NOV 16, 2017
On the first half of the program, producer, vlogger and promoter, Stephanie Tice talks about her latest production, ‘Howlin at Greaseland’ a compilation which features an all-star line-up of blues greats including, Blues Hall of Famer Henry Gray, The Tail Dragger, Kid Andersen, Alabama Mike, Rockin’ Johnny and Rick Estrin. Texas guitar master and blues legend Anson Funderburgh is featured on the second half of the program. Anson talks about his latest projects with Andy-T and the Golden State Lone Star Review and reminisces about his long history with the Rockets featuring the late great Sam Myers.
Show 116: NOV 17 to NOV 23, 2017
MOJO MARK CIHLAR
Mojo Mark Cihlar is a Chicago native who cut his teeth performing guitar and harmonica with some of most legendary players of his day like Kansas City Red, Big Smokey Smothers, Eddie King, and Little Arthur Duncan. After 30 years on the scene, he still performs traditional Chicago blues with the great Willie Buck, the Taildragger or a combination of his own band. In 2010, he was featured on the legendary Eddie C. Campbell’s award winning Delmark studio release. In 2016, he celebrated the release of his own project, co-produced with his brother, Grant, called Chicago Blues Party.
Show 117: DEC 01 to DEC 07, 2017
When the Howlin’ Wolf gives you a name it sticks. He told Arkansas native, Crawlin’ James Yancey to stop draggin’ his tail and from that day, the Tail Dragger was born on the Chicago blues scene. He took tips from Mad Dog Lester Davenport, Lee Shot Williams and Chico Chism before becoming one of Chicago’s most formidable singers and hiring a gamut of top talents to back him including Willie Kent, Little Mack Simmons, Johnny B Moore, Carey Bell, Lurrie Bell, and Eddie Shaw. Later, he frequently molded young white players; some have moved-on to make significant contributions to the blues, like Bob Corritore and Rockin’ Johnny Burgin.
Heard on this Episode
Bullseye Blues Xmas
Hello Santa Claus
BB Kringle Saves ...
Merry Merry XMas
Deck the Halls
Show 118: DEC 08 to DEC 15, 2017
A BBQ smothered Christmas special featuring Oklahoma’s blues elder and reigning queen of the blues, Dorothy Ellis, better known under her moniker, Miss Blues. We also hear season’s greetings by Tommy Castro, Rockin’ Johnny and more. On the second half of the program, enjoy an offbeat, laugh-out loud, off the wall Christmas story about the mysterious B.B. Kringle who saves the small town of Bluesville from the miserly grips of Eli’s Pawn proprietor, old Ebenezer Slim. This family fun tale was written by the creative children from a local shelter group exclusively for Blues America. It’s narrated by actor and multi-instrumentalist Monty Banks. Throw on your bad Christmas sweater, untangle those lights and spike the eggnog as we gather around the stovepipe for Santa’s favorite show, the Blues America juke joint jingle jam.