Monday, October 3, 2016

Today In Blues History October 3

Today in Blues History

October 3

On today’s date in 1951, Kevin Roosevelt Moore, who would become known as Keb' Mo' was born in South Los Angeles. He is a three-time American Grammy Award-winning blues musician who has been described as "a living link to the seminal Delta blues that travelled up the Mississippi River and across the expanse of America". His post-modern blues style is influenced by many eras and genres, including folk, rock, jazz and pop. The moniker "Keb Mo" was coined by his original drummer, Quentin Dennard, and picked up by his record label as a "street talk" abbreviation of his given name. Keb' Mo' started his musical career playing the steel drums and upright bass in a calypso band. He moved on to play in a variety of blues and backup bands throughout the 1970s and 1980s. He first started recording in the early 1970s with Jefferson Airplane violinist Papa John Creach through an R&B group. Creach hired him when Moore was just twenty-one years old; Moore appeared on four of Creach's albums: Filthy!, Playing My Fiddle for You, I'm the Fiddle Man and Rock Father. Keb Mo's first gold record was received for a song, Git Fiddler, which he co-wrote with Papa John on Jefferson Starship's Red Octopus. The album hit number one on the Billboard 200 in 1975. Keb' Mo' performed at a White House event titled In Performance at the White House: Red, White and Blues on February 21, 2012. On February 24, 2012, many of the same performers, including Keb' Mo, Gary Clark, Jr., Buddy Guy, Warren Haynes, Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks, paid tribute to Hubert Sumlin at the "Howlin' For Hubert" memorial concert at the Apollo Theater in New York, NY.

This date in 1954 also marks the birth of Stephen "Stevie" Ray Vaughan in Dallas, TX. In spite of a short-lived mainstream career spanning seven years, he is widely considered one of the most influential electric guitarists in the history of music, and one of the most important figures in the revival of blues in the 1980s. AllMusic describes him as "a rocking powerhouse of a guitarist who gave blues a burst of momentum in the '80s, with influence still felt long after his tragic death." Vaughan began playing guitar at the age of seven, inspired by his older brother Jimmie. In 1971 he dropped out of high school, and moved to Austin the following year. He played gigs with numerous bands, earning a spot in Marc Benno's band, the Nightcrawlers, and later with Denny Freeman in the Cobras, with whom he continued to work through late 1977. He then formed his own group, Triple Threat Revue, before renaming the band Double Trouble after hiring drummer Chris Layton and bassist Tommy Shannon. He gained fame after his performance at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1982, and in 1983 his debut studio album, Texas Flood, charted at number 38. The ten-song album was a commercially successful release that sold over half a million copies. After achieving sobriety in late 1986, he headlined concert tours with Jeff Beck in 1989 and Joe Cocker in 1990 before his death in a helicopter crash on August 27, 1990, at the age of 35.

In 1956, Deborah Coleman  was born in Portsmouth, Virginia and raised in a music-loving military family that lived in San Diego, San Francisco, Bremerton, Washington, and the Chicago area. With her father playing piano, two brothers on guitar, and a sister who plays guitar and keyboards, Deborah felt natural with an instrument in her hands, picking up guitar at age 8. She has played at the top music venues such as North Atlantic Blues Festival (2007), Waterfront Blues Festival (2002), the Monterey Jazz Festival (2001), Ann Arbor Blues and Jazz Festival (2000), Sarasota Blues Festival (1999), the San Francisco Blues Festival (1999) and the Fountain Blues Festival (1998). Coleman's Blind Pig debut, I Can't Lose (1997), was an album of ballads and blues stories, and guitar playing and singing. Her version of Billie Holiday's Fine and Mellow got a lot of airplay on college and public radio stations around the U.S. Soul Be It (2002) included the opener Brick, My Heart Bleeds Blue, Don't Lie to Me, and a jump blues track, I Believe. These were followed by What About Love? (2004) and Stop the Game (2007).

The date also marks the passing of two well-known figures in the blues community. The first, in 1969, is Nehemiah Curtis "Skip" James in Philadelphia, PA. James was an American Delta blues singer, guitarist, pianist and songwriter whose guitar playing is noted for its dark, minor-key sound, played in an open D-minor tuning with an intricate fingerpicking technique. James first recorded for Paramount Records in 1931, but these recordings sold poorly, having been released during the Great Depression, and he drifted into obscurity. After a long absence from the public eye, James was "rediscovered" in 1964 by three blues enthusiasts, helping further the blues and folk music revival of the 1950s and early 1960s. During this period, James appeared at folk and blues festivals, gave concerts around the country and recorded several albums for various record labels. His songs have influenced generations of musicians, having been adapted or covered by Kansas Joe McCoy, Robert Johnson, Alan Wilson, Cream, Deep Purple, Chris Thomas King, Alvin Youngblood Hart, the Derek Trucks Band, Beck, Big Sugar, Eric Clapton, John Martyn, Lucinda Williams and Rory Block. He has been hailed as "one of the seminal figures of the blues."

It also marks the passing of Victoria Regina Spivey in New York. Spivey, who is also sometimes known as Queen Victoria, was an American blues singer and songwriter. During a recording career that spanned 40 years, from 1926 to the mid-1960s, she worked with Louis Armstrong, King Oliver, Clarence Williams, Luis Russell, Lonnie Johnson, and Bob Dylan. She also performed in vaudeville and clubs, sometimes with her sister Addie "Sweet Peas" (or "Sweet Pease") Spivey (1910–1943), also known as the Za Zu Girl. Among her compositions are Black Snake Blues, Dope Head Blues, and Organ Grinder Blues. In 1962 she co-founded Spivey Records. Spivey's first professional experience was in a family string band led by her father in Houston. After he died, the seven-year-old Victoria played on her own at local parties. In 1918, she was hired to accompany films at the Lincoln Theater in Dallas. As a teenager, she worked in local bars, nightclubs, and buffet flats, mostly alone, but occasionally with singer-guitarists, including Blind Lemon Jefferson. In 1926 she moved to St. Louis, Missouri, where she was signed by Okeh Records. She recorded numerous sides for Okeh in New York City until 1929, when she switched to the Victor label. Between 1931 and 1937, more recordings followed for Vocalion Records and Decca Records, and, working out of New York, she maintained an active performance schedule. Her recorded accompanists included King Oliver, Louis Armstrong, Lonnie Johnson, and Red Allen. The Depression did not put an end to Spivey's musical career. She found a new outlet for her talent in 1929, when the film director King Vidor cast her to play Missy Rose in his first sound film, Hallelujah!. Through the 1930s and 1940s Spivey continued to work in musical films and stage shows, including the hit musical Hellzapoppin, often with her husband, the vaudeville dancer Billy Adams. In 1951 Spivey retired from show business to play the pipe organ and lead a church choir, but she returned to secular music in 1961, when she was reunited with an old singing partner, Lonnie Johnson, to appear on four tracks on his Prestige Bluesville album Idle Hours. The folk music revival of the 1960s gave her further opportunities to make a comeback. She recorded again for Prestige Bluesville, sharing an album, Songs We Taught Your Mother, with fellow veterans Alberta Hunter and Lucille Hegamin, and began making personal appearances at festivals and clubs, including the 1963 European tour of the American Folk Blues Festival. In 1961 Spivey and the jazz and blues historian Len Kunstadt launched Spivey Records, a low-budget label dedicated to blues, jazz, and related music, prolifically recording established artists, including Sippie Wallace, Lucille Hegamin, Otis Rush, Otis Spann, Willie Dixon, Roosevelt Sykes, Big Joe Turner, Buddy Tate, and Hannah Sylvester, and also newer artists, including Luther Johnson, Brenda Bell, Washboard Doc, Bill Dicey, Robert Ross, Sugar Blue, Paul Oscher, Danny Russo, and Larry Johnson.

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