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BLUES AT THE CROSSROADS 2: Muddy & The Wolf
Fabulous Thunderbirds featuring Kim Wilson with
After a sucessful tour with the Robert Johnson Centennial Concerts, BLUES AT THE CROSSROADS returns to celebrate the two ledgends, MUDDY WATERS and HOWLIN' WOLF. Both musiciansvie for the homor of the "father of modern Chicago Blues" and both are considered the key bluesmen inspiring Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, John Mayall, Eric Clapton and others who brought about the 1960's British blues explosion.Though friends, Muddy & The Wolf were rivals for the top slot, and this spurred on both to top the other and create classics of the genre, including "Spoonful," "Mannish Boy," "Rolling Stone," and "Smokestack Lightning." THE FABULOUS THUNDERBIRDS join Blues At The Corssroads 2 as the core band backing greats JAMES COTTON, BOB MARGOLIN, JJ GREY, and JODY WILLIAMS.
From the beginning, 30 years ago, the FABULOUS THUNDERBIRDS have been led by one of a kind vocalist / harmonica player, Kim Wilson. The group's distinctive and powerful sound mixes Texas blues and southern rock with harmonica laced swamp blues and R&B.
Because of their peerless musicianship and unique vocals, they have a huge worldwide fan base and have always been favorites of top musicians, leading to world tours with The Rolling Stones and Eric Clapton.
"TUFF ENUFF" [and]"WRAP IT UP" were Top 10 hits and many of their songs have been used in movies and commercials.
Born into a family with generations-old roots in rural Florida, JJ GREY was raised with a combination of backwoods wisdom and old-school blue-collar values. He heard music at barbeques and in local juke joints, all the while developing a deep love and respect for the land and its culture. Grey’s original songs are inspired by legendary musicians, including Southern rockers Lynyrd Skynyrd, soul greats Otis Redding and Toots Hibbert, country stars George Jones and Jerry Reed, as well as by Grand Ole Opry comedian Jerry Clower. Whether it is a narrative passed down to him from his grandmother or the tribulations of a childhood friend, Grey’s ear for detail rings through in true storyteller fashion.
Debuting in 2001 with Blackwater, following up in 2004 with Lochloosa (both albums reissued by Alligator), Grey steadily built an intensely loyal following. In 2007 Grey released his Alligator debut, Country Ghetto, followed by 2008’s Orange Blossoms, further growing his already large audience. With the release of 2010’s Georgia Warhorse, Grey stepped further into the mainstream with the AAA radio breakout single The Sweetest Thing.
Grey, an avid outdoorsman, is a dedicated fisherman and surfer and holds an honorary position on the board of the Snook Foundation, dedicated to the protection of coastal fish and fish habitat. He has written passionately and articulately about his love for the untrammeled environment of his north Florida home.
After over a decade of hard touring and five studio albums Grey still spends eight months of the year on the road, bringing his music to his loyal, ever-growing, worldwide fan base, laying it all on the line with each and every performance. JJ has played countless festivals, including Bonnaroo, Wakarusa, Austin City Limits Festival, Byron Bay Blues Festival (Australia), Montreal Jazz Festival and Fuji Rock (Japan). Over the course of his career, Grey has shared stages with the likes of B.B. King, The Allman Brothers Band, The Black Crowes, Los Lobos, Jeff Beck, Ben Harper, Lenny Kravitz, Booker T. Jones, Mavis Staples and many others. In 2011 the band invaded the UK, leaving blissful fans and overwhelming praise in their wake. Also in 2011, Grey embarked on his first-ever solo tour, playing packed-to-capacity clubs, getting more personal and up close with his audience.
Grey’s songs have appeared in film and network and cable television programs including House, Flashpoint, Crash, Friday Night Lights, The Deadliest Catch and the film The Hoot. In November 2009, JJ wrote his first film score for the critically acclaimed, Emmy Award-winning documentary The Good Soldier that appeared in theatres and on Bill Moyers Journal on PBS. In 2010, Grey played piano, sang and contributed a song (The Wrong Side) to Buckwheat Zydeco’s Grammy-winning Alligator album Lay Your Burden Down.
"The first great stringbender on the Chicago blues scene, Williams provided the stylistic bridge between B.B. King and T-Bone Walker and young firebrands Otis Rush and Buddy Guy, both of whom wholeheartedly absorbed his innovations" - Bill Dahl
"Williams comes back armed with a tone and a style that'll turn your head around." - Guitar Player Magazine
The term "legend" is bandied about generously these days. It seems like the mere act of living to a ripe old age is enough to earn this handle all by itself.
In the case of blues guitarist JODY WILLIAMS, however, the "legendary" mantle is entirely and gloriously justified. As the first great string bender on the Chicago blues scene, he provided the stylistic bridge between B.B. King and T-Bone Walker (two of his principle influences) and young firebrands Otis Rush and Buddy Guy, both of whom wholeheartedly absorbed his innovations and licks as they modernized the idiom.
As a key Chicago session-guitarist during the 50's whose singular tone, imaginative chord changes, and boundless creativity set him well apart from his peers, Jody added the essential guitar fire to some of the era's greatest blues recordings: Bo Diddley's Who Do You Love, Howlin' Wolf's Forty Four, Billy Boy Arnold's I Wish You Would, and his own shimmering minor key instrumental Lucky Lou. You can hear echoes of Jody in Carlos Santana and Fleetwood Mac's Peter Green, and his impact extends to a legion of contemporary bluesmen on the scene.
Jody was a prolific studio musician during the mid-to-late 1950's. He invigorated Bo Diddley's voodoo-laced 1956 Checker smash Who Do You Love with a barrage of scalding fretwork. Williams' slashing axe graced sessions with Jimmy Rogers (One Kiss), Floyd Dixon (Alarm Clock Blues), Jimmy Witherspoon (Ain't Nobody's Business), Otis Rush (Groaning The Blues), and Billy Boy Arnold (I Ain't Got You).
Williams' studio debut as a leader came at the end of 1955 with two authoritative upbeat vocals, Lookin' For My Baby and Easy Lovin' for Chicago deejay Al Benson's Blue Lake logo with Willie Dixon slapping the bass. At the top of 1957, Williams cut his two-sided classic Lucky Lou b/w You May for Chess' Argo label. Lucky Lou's startling melody line was the inspiration for the blazing intro to Otis Rush's classic All Your Love (I Miss Loving), cut the following year for Cobra Records. Jody kept busy during the early 1960's but by the late 60's he was tired of getting short changed on recognition and financial rewards, and he had a family to support. He stopped playing the guitar, stopped going to clubs, stopped listening to music. In a strange twist of irony, Williams the guitarist that everyone copied, took a job as an engineer for the Xerox Corporation.
In 2002 he emerged from retirement with the Dick Shurman produced album Return of A Legend which became the vehicle to re-launch his career. Legend received a 2003 WC Handy Award for Comeback Album of the Year, and Williams was heralded by Living Blues readers and critics as "Best Guitarist" for that year.
In 2004 he released "You Left Me In The Dark." Williams once again teamed up with producer Dick Shurman to record material that continues to show his strength as a songwriter and a master of the Chicago Blues guitar style. Living Blues voted Jody Williams "Best Guitarist" and "You Left Me In The Dark" as "Best Contemporary Blues" recording in the 2005 Critics poll.
The musical pedigree of JAMES "SUPERHARP" COTTON consists of a veritable who’s who in the world of the Blues. He’s a Grammy winner, an inductee into the Blues Hall of Fame, the Smithsonian Institute, and a recipient of countless W.C. Handy Blues Awards. The year 2011 has begun with four coveted nominations. GIANT, his current CD on Alligator Records, has a Grammy nomination for Traditional Blues Album and the Blues Foundation’s Blues Music Awards have nominated GIANT in the same category along with Cotton in both the Traditional Male Artist and Instrumentalist - Harmonica categories.
An orphan at the age of nine, he was raised in Mississippi by his mentor, Sonny Boy Williamson, who remains famous for his many unique songs and innovative Delta Blues harmonica style. As a young teenager Cotton befriended Howlin’ Wolf and joined forces with him playing Mississippi and Arkansas juke joints for two years. During that time Cotton hosted his own afternoon radio show in West Memphis, AR and also recorded “Cotton Crop Blues” and three other songs on Sun Records in Memphis. In 1954 when Muddy Waters needed a harmonica player, he found Cotton playing a club in Arkansas and took him to Chicago. Cotton remained a member of Waters band for 12 years not only playing shows but also recording with him on Chess Records. One of the highlights of that period came when Cotton arranged the ever-popular anthem of the blues, “Got My Mojo Workin’, “ which was played for the first time by the Muddy Waters Band at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1961.
In 1966 Cotton formed the James Cotton Blues Band. His 1974 album, 100% Cotton, began the crossover funk, rock-oriented sound that is the contemporary Chicago Blues. The band continues to showcase his immense talent which is defined by his signature unmatched harmonica tone combined with a drummer’s acute sense of time and rhythm. At age 75 he is still a force to be reckoned with. He’s one of the most sought-after, harddriving, seminal blues musicians touring the world today.
He has shared the stage with B.B. King, Santana, Steve Miller, Johnny Winter, the Allman Brothers, Bonnie Raitt, Led Zeppelin, Janis Joplin, Sam and Dave, the Grateful Dead, ad infinitum. He is the only musician alive today who has played with Sonny Boy Williamson, Howlin’ Wolf, and Muddy Waters.
Cotton passionately explains, ”My audience always tells me how I’m doing. If I look out there and don’t like what I see, I work harder.” After all these years he feels his audience has become part of his family, still standing, and enjoying his performances as much as he does. You will have a memorable evening with an international treasure and a true Living Legend of the Blues.
His current Alligator Records CD, GIANT, is a ferocious blast of brash power blues from Cotton and his touring band.
2011 is Cotton’s 67th year in the entertainment business. What an amazing adventure “Superharp” is experiencing with his little harmonica.
BOB MARGOLIN is a Blues guitar player and vocalist, a recording artist who tours worldwide both leading his own band and The Bob Margolin All-Star Blues Jam. He won a Blues Music Award for Guitar in 2008, known as the W.C. Handy Award in 2005 when he won that year, and played guitar in Muddy Waters’ Band from 1973-’80.
He can be seen with Muddy Waters and The Band in The Last Waltz, the classic music documentary. His most recent album is The Bob Margolin All-Star Blues Jam for Telarc Records, which features many of today’s surviving Chicago Blues legends. Since the ‘90s, he has also recorded albums for the Powerhouse, Alligator, and Blind Pig labels. He writes a regular column for Blues Revue magazine and contributes to BluesWax.com online magazine.
Bob also has played on, produced or consulted on, and written liner notes for four reissues of Muddy Waters’ albums on the Sony/Legacy label. He appears on the Muddy Waters Classic Concerts DVD, playing in 1977 with Muddy and writing liner notes for the DVD.
In today’s Blues music scene, Bob Margolin is carrying on the tradition with a full schedule of festivals, concerts, and club appearances. For more details and depth, visit the other links on this website.