Category Archives: blues

Maria Muldaur, Chris O’Connell, Barbara Dane to Play Benefit For Bluesmen Paul Geremia and Johnny Harper

Maria Muldaur

A benefit concert for Bay Area bluesman Johnny Harper and Paul Geremia will be help on January 28, 2015 at the Freight & Salvage in Berkeley, California.

Among the artists playing the benefit are fold-blues legend Maria Muldaur, former Asleep At The Wheel singer Chris O’Connell, and singer Barbara Dane,

Johnny Harper is a superb guitarist, bandleader, singer and songwriter. Paul Geremia is a highly respected acoustic blues performer, finger-style guitarist, and songwriter, with ten solo albums to his credit. Both men have recently suffered serious health issues.

Here’s Johnny Harper on the concert:

Why a benefit? Many of you do not know that I’ve been dealing with a very tough health situation this past fall. I was hospitalized from early September to mid-November. The reason was a blood-clotting problem called a pulmonary embolism. This is very, very serious; the doctors were very doubtful that I would survive it. But survive it I did. Then there was a long period of recovery from the trauma; a lot of physical therapy was needed to help me get my strength back. I’m home now, and feel pretty good in most respects. I am getting around well, am doing physical therapy exercises daily and taking care of myself. I am playing guitar well again, and am starting to teach some of my guitar students. But there are other respects in which I’m still in the recovery phase. Also, of course, I lost months of work, months of income, and have unpaid medical bills which are not entirely covered by my health insurance.

So some friends in the musical community – spearheaded by the tireless organizer and great fiddler/ singer Suzy Thompson – have put together this wonderful Acoustic Blues Festival night at Freight and Salvage, as a benefit for me and also for Paul Geremia, a distinguished acoustic blues artist of many years’ standing, who has also suffered difficult and costly health setbacks recently.

The Freight is of course the West Coast’s premier folk music venue, and now holds 400 in its very comfortable downtown Berkeley location.

I’ll say more about the stellar lineup of performers in a moment. But the main message is, this will be a wonderful night of music with lots of terrific artists playing. And also – well, both Paul and I have played many benefit shows over the years, for friends in need and for causes we believe in. This time around, we will sure be grateful for whatever support you can give us.


Maria Muldaur, a true star of Americana music, has been knocking listeners out since her early days with the Jim Kweskin Jug Band back in the 1960s. She has recorded 30 albums under her own name, starting off with her self-titled first record which made her famous for the hit “Midnight at the Oasis.” Her albums and performances cover a vast range of American roots music styles – uptown urban blues, down home country blues, jazz and swing, gospel, New Orleans R&B, and more. She remains a sultry, vivacious singer and a powerful performer. In 2004 I played a brief tour as her lead guitarist, filling in for her regular guy. See much more on her albums and upcoming performances at

Barbara Dane is an American music legend, still a very powerful, moving, and creative singer at age 87! She’s a great performer of blues, folk music, and traditional jazz, and sings in various international idioms as well. She’s recorded in all these styles since the 1950s. She has worked with jazz giants Louis Armstrong, Earl Hines, and Jack Teagarden; blues masters Muddy Waters, Lightning Hopkins, and Memphis Slim; folk music legends Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger; and countless other important artists. Her lifelong commitment to peace and social justice still informs her song choices and the causes for which she performs. I have been lucky enough to work many shows with her, as accompanist and occasional band director, for the last 15 years. Details on her many recordings at

Chris O’Connell, famous for her 15-year stint as the original lead singer in Asleep at the Wheel, recently relocated to the Bay Area and released a fine new album. Steve James, veteran blues singer and fine finger-picking guitarist, has worked with John Sebastian, Cindy Cashdollar, Alvin Youngblood Hart, James McMurtry, Bo Diddley, Maria Muldaur, and many more. Catfish Keith specializes in the traditional “bottleneck”slide style played on the metal-bodied resonator guitar.

Several long-time Bay Area musical friends of mine are also featured. I’ve played informally with all these artists for many years. Eric and Suzy Thompson are well-known for playing old-time music, bluegrass, Cajun music, Greek music, and lots of traditional blues. Suzy’s powerful vocals and fine fiddling, and Eric’s fleet-fingered guitar and mandolin work, add life to every style they turn their hands to. Suzy has also written some fine songs. I produced an early CD of theirs, Adam and Eve Had the Blues on Arhoolie. Marc Silber’s long life story in music includes a stint in the early ’60s Greenwich Village folk scene. He is well known as a guitar dealer, but should be better known as the superb musician he is. His finger-style guitar playing and his deep, authentic feel for traditional blues are wonderful; his singing is captivating and soulful. Will Scarlett is a true virtuoso of the harmonica, seemingly able to jump in any song, in any style, in any key, at the drop of a chord change! He’s performed and recorded with many fine artists – Brownie McGhee, Jerry Garcia, Hot Tuna, Old and In the Way, David Bromberg, and Clifton Chenier, to name a few.

Paul Geremia, not expected to perform on this occasion, is the other beneficiary of this special concert; he’s been struggling with difficult health problems for the last year.

Those of us who really love the blues know that it’s music to celebrate life joyfully by – and also, music that can really help us, can be there for us to lean on, when we’re having hard times.

Come celebrate with us, come hear the blues in many styles and variations, on January 28th! Tell your friends! I hope to see you there.

– A Days of The Crazy-Wild blog post –

Audio: Rhiannon Giddens Sings ‘Black Is the Color,’ ‘Shake Sugaree’ & More

T Bone Burnett has produced Rhiannon Giddens’ debut solo album Tomorrow Is My Turn< ,/em> which is set for a February 10, 2015 release.

Giddens, of course, is a member of the New Basement Tapes band, and was a major contributor to Lost On The River: The New Basement Tapes.

I like her version of “Shake Sugaree,” and “Black is the Color” is interesting.

Joan Baez, of course, recorded “Black is the Color” in the ’60s, and Bob Dylan had the line “Where black is the color, where none is the number” in “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall.”

I’m looking forward to hearing what Giddens does with Geeshie Wiley’s amazing “Last Kind Words.”

Check out three songs off the album.

“Black is the Color”:

“Don’t Let It Trouble Your Mind”:

“Shake Sugaree”:

Album track listing:

Last Kind Words (Geeshie Wiley)
Don’t Let It Trouble Your Mind (Dolly Parton)
Waterboy (Jacques Wolfe)
She’s Got You (Hank Cochran)
Up Above My Head (Sister Rosetta Tharpe)
Tomorrow Is My Turn (Charles Aznavour/Marcel Stellman/Yves Stéphane)
Black Is the Color (Traditional, arr. Rhiannon Giddens)
Round About the Mountain (Traditional, arr. Roland Hayes)
Shake Sugaree (Elizabeth Cotten)
O Love Is Teasin’ (Traditional, arr. Rhiannon Giddens)
Angel City (Rhiannon Giddens)

[I just published my rock ‘n’ roll novel, True Love Scars.” Rolling Stone has a great review of my book in a recent issue. Read it here. There’s info about True Love Scars here.]

Audio: Bob Dylan Sings ‘Motherless Children’ – Gaslight Café, 1962 – Plus Blind Willie McTell & Blind Willie Johnson

Great early Dylan song.

Bob Dylan performed “Motherless Children” at The Gaslight Café in New York in October 1962.

The song was previously recorded by a number of artists including blues greats Blind Willie Johnson and Blind Willie McTell.

Blind Willie Johnson:

Blind Willie McTell:

–- A Days of the Crazy-Wild blog post: sounds, visuals and/or news –-

Audio: Session #2, Bob Dylan Records ‘The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan’ 52 Years Ago – ‘Solid Road,’ ‘Milk Cow Blues,’ ‘Sally Gal’ & More

Outtake from session for album cover.

Fifty-two years ago, on April 25, 1962, the second session for The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan took place at Columbia Studio A in New York.

That day, according to Clinton Heylin’s “Bob Dylan: The Recording Sessions [1960 – 1994]” the following songs were recorded.

(It’s possible that some of these were cut at a different session since Dylan rerecorded some songs on different days.)

“Solid Road (Rocks and Gravel)”:

Solid Road (Rocks and Gravel) by Bob Dylan on Grooveshark

“Let Me Die in my Footsteps”:

Let Me Die in my Footsteps by Bob Dylan on Grooveshark

“Talkin’ Hava Negeilah Blues”:

Talkin' Hava Negeilah Blues by Bob Dylan on Grooveshark

“Sally Gal”:

Sally Girl – Take 4 (Studio Outtake) by Bob Dylan on Grooveshark

“Baby, Please Don’t Go”:

Baby, Please Don't Go (Studio Outtake) by Bob Dylan on Grooveshark

“Milk Cow Blues” #1:

Milkcow's Calf Blues I by Bob Dylan on Grooveshark

“Milk Cow Blues” #2:

Milkcow's Calf Blues II by Bob Dylan on Grooveshark

“Wichita Blues” #1:

Wichita Blues I by Bob Dylan on Grooveshark

“Wichita Blues” #2:

Wichita Blues II by Bob Dylan on Grooveshark

“Talkin’ Bear Mountain Picnic Massacre Blues”:

Talkin' Bear Mountain Picnic Massacre Blues by Bob Dylan on Grooveshark

Audio: Bob Dylan Records ‘The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan’ 52 Years Ago – ‘Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Willie,’ ‘Corrina, Corrina’ & More

Outtake from the photo session for the album cover.

Fifty-two years ago, on April 24, 1962, Bob Dylan entered Columbia Studio A in New York and began recording his second album, the album that would become The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan.

That day he recorded versions of “I’m Going to New Orleans,” “Sally Gal,” “Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Willie,” Corrina, Corrina,” “The Death of Emmett Till,” “Talkin’ John Birch Paranoid Blues” and “(I Heard That) Lonesome Whistle” according to Clinton Heylin’s “Bob Dylan: The Recording Sessions [1960 – 1994].”

Here are versions of the songs he cut that day. Some may have been cut at later sessions as in some cases he recorded the same song at more than one session.

“I’m Going to New Orleans”:

Going To New Orleans (Studio Outtake) by Bob Dylan on Grooveshark

“Sally Gal”:

Sally Gal by Bob Dylan on Grooveshark

“Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Willie”:

Ramblin' Gamblin' Willie by Bob Dylan on Grooveshark

“Corrina, Corrina”:

Corrina Corrina by Bob Dylan on Grooveshark

“The Death Of Emmett Till” (Studio Outtake):

The Death Of Emmett Till (Studio Outtake) by Bob Dylan on Grooveshark

“Talkin’ John Birch Paranoid Blues” (From withdrawn version of the LP):

Talkin' John Birch Paranoid Blues (From Withdrawn LP) by Bob Dylan on Grooveshark

“(I Heard That) Lonesome Whistle”:

(I Heard That) Lonesome Whistle by Bob Dylan on Grooveshark

-– A Days of the Crazy-Wild blog post: sounds, visuals and/or news –-

Audio: Bob Dylan Sings ‘I Rode Out One Morning,’ ‘House of the Rising Sun’- April 12, 1963

Photo via American Masters.

These two songs, recorded a little over 51 years ago, were taped at the home of Eve and Mac McKenzie. Dylan met the McKenzies at Gerde’s Folk City in early 1961, according to Isis Magazine. He was “introduced to Mac McKenzie by Woody Guthrie’s wife Marjorie. ”


Folk enthusiasts, the McKenzies had an apartment north of the Village where some of the young would-be folk musicians often met up. Dylan became a regular visitor and soon a houseguest too, sleeping on the couch in the family’s living room. The middle-aged couple, generous down-to-earth folks, were among the first to adopt Dylan. Mac was a hard working, hard-drinking longshoreman, Eve, an ex-Martha Graham dancer, described Dylan as looking like a character out of Dickens, with long coat and cap.

Dylan recorded many songs at the apartment.

Below are two songs Dylan recorded at the Mckenzie’s apartment on April 12, 1963 (according to

The first song, “I Rode Out One Morning,” is an obscure one that Dylan only performed once, and you’re about to listen to that the one tine he played it.

“I Rode Out One Morning”:

I Rode Out One Morning (Mackenzie Home Tapes) by Bob Dylan on Grooveshark

“House of the Rising Sun”:

House Of The Rising Sun (Mackenzie Home Tapes) by Bob Dylan on Grooveshark

-– A Days of the Crazy-Wild blog post: sounds, visuals and/or news –

Audio: The Incredible Search for Blues Singers ‘Geeshie’ Wiley and ‘Elvie’ Thomas

Only known photo of L. V. Thomas.

Fantastic article in today’s Sunday New York Times on the search for 1930s blues singers ‘Geeshie Wiley’ and ‘Elvie’ Thomas.

Below the excerpt are the songs the two women recorded in 1930 for Paramount Records.

John Jeremiah Sullivan writes:

IN THE WORLD of early-20th-century African-American music and people obsessed by it, who can appear from one angle like a clique of pale and misanthropic scholar-gatherers and from another like a sizable chunk of the human population, there exist no ghosts more vexing than a couple of women identified on three ultrarare records made in 1930 and ’31 as Elvie Thomas and Geeshie Wiley. There are musicians as obscure as Wiley and Thomas, and musicians as great, but in none does the Venn diagram of greatness and lostness reveal such vast and bewildering co-extent. In the spring of 1930, in a damp and dimly lit studio, in a small Wisconsin village on the western shore of Lake Michigan, the duo recorded a batch of songs that for more than half a century have been numbered among the masterpieces of prewar American music, in particular two, Elvie’s “Motherless Child Blues” and Geeshie’s “Last Kind Words Blues,” twin Alps of their tiny oeuvre, inspiring essays and novels and films and cover versions, a classical arrangement.

Yet despite more than 50 years of researchers’ efforts to learn who the two women were or where they came from, we have remained ignorant of even their legal names.

Geeshie Wiley and Elvie Thomas, “Last Kind Word Blues”:

Geeshie Wiley and Elvie Thomas, “Motherless Child Blues”: (1930)

Geeshie Wiley and Elvie Thomas, “Skinny Leg Blues”:

Geeshie Wiley and Elvie Thomas,” Pick Poor Robin Clean”:

Geeshie Wiley and Elvie Thomas, “Come On Over To My House”:

Geeshie Wiley and Elvie Thomas, “Eagles On A Half”:

-– A Days of the Crazy-Wild blog post: sounds, visuals and/or news –

Audio: Bob Dylan Plays Gerde’s Folk City, April 16, 1962 – ‘Corrina, Corrina,’ ‘Deep Ellum Blues’ & More

Fifty-two years ago, Bob Dylan appeared at Gerde’s Folk City. He’d been playing there since 1961 when, on April 11, he played Gerde’s for the first time.

What’s important about the April 16, 1962 gig is that some of it was recorded, and the recordings are tremendous. They’re great in and of themselves, but it’s also fascinating to get another earful of an artist in transition. And with Bob Dylan, he’s always in transition.

These songs appeared on an official album released by Sony two years ago. They’re on the The 50th Anniversary Collection: The Copyright Extension Collection, Volume 1. Of course that was released as a very limited edition so that Sony could prevent the recordings from entering the public domain in Europe.

Anyway, enjoy.

“Honey, Just Allow Me One More Chance”:

Honey, Just Allow Me One More Chance (Gerde's Folk City) by Bob Dylan on Grooveshark

“Talkin’ New York”:

“Corrina, Corrina”:

“Deep Ellum Blues”:

Deep Ellum Blues (Gerde's Folk City) by Bob Dylan on Grooveshark

“Blowin’ in the Wind”:

Blowin' In The Wind (Gerde's Folk City) by Bob Dylan on Grooveshark

-– A Days of the Crazy-Wild blog post: sounds, visuals and/or news –

Audio: Two Hours of Killer Delta Blues – Elmore James, Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson & More

Muddy Waters

Found this great YouTube post. Tons of Delta blues tracks.

Delta Blues — 2 hours of Blues, 41 great tracks, the greatest stars of the Delta: Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Bo Carter, Son House, Elmore James, Robert Lockwood, Charley Patton, Mississippi John Hurt and many more!

00:00 – Elmore James – I Can’t Stop Lovin’ You
02:16 – Johnny Shines – Ramblin’
04:49 – Muddy Waters – Long Distance Call
07:31 – Charly McCoy – Motherless Blues
10:45 – Robert Lockwood – Little Boy Blues
14:00 – Robert Johnson – Milkcow’s Calf Blues
16:37 – Son House – My Black Mama
22:59 – Bo Carter – Banana In Your Fruit Basket
26:08 – Helen Humes – They Raided the Joint
28:34 – Bo Carter – The Law Is Gonna Step On You
31:17 – Charley Patton – Stone Pony Blues
34:10 – Mississippi Joe Calicott – Travelin’ Mama Blues
37:24 – The Mississippi Moaner – Mississippi Moan
39:53 – Ishmon Bracey – Trouble Hearted Blues
43:18 – Big Joe Williams – Stack O’ Dollars
46:33 – Big Joe Williams – Please Don’t Go
49:21 – Mississippi John Hurt – Stack O’ Lee
52:21 – Leadbelly – Duncan and Brady
56:28 – Memphis Minnie – He Is In the Ring
59:17 – Memphis Minnie – Me and My Chauffeur
01:02:25 – Mississippi Fred McDowell – Good Morning Little School Girl
01:05:04 – J.B. Lenoir – Mama Talk to Your Daughter
01:07:39 – Jimmy Dawkins – I Feel So Bad
01:12:51 – Mississippi Johnny Waters – Baby Don’t Treat Him This Way
01:15:06 – Robert Lockwood – Mean Mistreater
01:17:16 – John Lee Hooker — Landing Blues
01:20:44 – Elmore James – Standing At the Crossroads
01:23:33 – Big Joe Williams – Rootin’ Ground Hog
01:26:35 – Ishman Bracey – Trouble Hearted Blues
01:30:01 – Tommy Johnson – Canned Heat Blues
01:33:40 – Son House – Walkin’ Blues
01:40:21 – Robert Lockwood Jr – Little Boy Blue
01:43:26 – Blind Willie McTell – Stomp Down River
01:46:35 – Big Bill Broonzy – Mississippi River Blues
01:49:20 – Robert Johnson – Hellhound On My Trail
01:51:59 – Tommy Johnson – Cool Drink of Water Blues
01:55:35 – Sleepy John Estes – Hobo Jungle Blues
01:58:32 – Tommy McClennan – Highway 51
02:01:23 – Skip James – Devil Got My Woman
02:04:24 – Arthur Crudup – Black Pony Blues
02:07:48 – Bo Carter – My Pencil Won’t Write No More

For more: JazzAndBluesExperience – SUBSCRIBE HERE : (Re)Discover the Jazz and Blues greatest hits.

-– A Days of the Crazy-Wild blog post: sounds, visuals and/or news –

The Time Machine: Watch Sonny Boy Williamson II Sing ‘Nine Below Zero’

From the Classic Blues Videos website:

Sonny Boy Williamson II performs “Nine Below Zero” at the American Folk Blues Music Festival in 1963. Introduced by Memphis Slim, with Otis Spann (piano), Matt Murphy (guitar), Willie Dixon (bass) and Billy Stepney (drums).

Thanks to Classic Blues Videos for hipping me to this clip.

— A Days of the Crazy-Wild blog post: sounds, visuals and/or news –-