CELEBRATING BLACK HISTORY MONTH

ROBERT "BILBO" WALKER JR

(February 19, 1937)

ROBERT "BILBO" WALKER JR. (born February 19, 1937) is a blues musician. who is known in the blues music world due to his "rock 'n' roll showmanship" and "flamboyant Chuck Berry imitations."

Walker was born near Clarksdale, Mississippi. Walker Sr. was often referred to by his nickname, "Bilbo", which was then passed onto to Walker Jr., who was also sometimes called Little Junior Bilbo. Walker began to explore music after his sister's boyfriend introduced him to Ike Turner. After spending 17 years in Chicago, Illinois with his friend David Porter, Walker moved to the area around Bakersfield, California and started a farm growing such commodities aswatermelon and cotton.[2] During this time, he continued to perform at local bars in the California area, as well as in Chicago and Clarksdale when on visits. He currently still resides in California.

In 1997, Walker released his first album, Promised Land, and followed it with two more records, 1998s Rompin' & Stompin' and 2001s Rock the Night.

DAVID BLUE

(February 18, 1941 – December 2, 1982)

David Blue (February 18, 1941 – December 2, 1982), born Stuart David Cohen, was an American singer-songwriter and actor.

He was an integral part of the Greenwich Village folk music scene in New York, which included Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs, Dave Van Ronk, Tom Paxton, and Eric Andersen. Blue is best known for writing the song "Outlaw Man" for the Eagles, which was included on their 1973 Desperado album, as well as released as their second single from this album. Blue's original version of "Outlaw Man" was the lead track of his own Nice Baby and the Angel album, issued on CD, with the entire David Blue catalogue, in 2007 on Wounded Bird Records.

Blue joined Dylan's Rolling Thunder Revue in 1975 and appeared in Renaldo and Clara, the 1978 movie that was filmed during that tour. Blue acted in other films including, The American Friend (1977), directed by Wim Wenders, The Ordeal of Patty Hearst (a 1979 TV movie) and Human Highway (1982) by Neil Young. Human Highway premiered in 1983 after Blue's death. Blue also performed onstage in Stephen Poliakoff's play American Days at Manhattan Theatre Club in New York City, in December 1980, directed by Jacques Levy.

Blue died of a heart attack in December 1982 at the age of 41, while jogging in Washington Square Park in New York City.

CELEBRATING BLACK HISTORY MONTH

MAVIS STAPLES

Congrats to the Grammy Winner - Best American Roots Performance

Mavis Staples (born July 10, 1939) is an American rhythm and blues and gospel singer, actress and civil rights activist. She has recorded and performed with her family's band The Staple Singers, and also as a solo artist.

Staples was born in Chicago, Illinois on July 10, 1939. She began her career with her family group in 1950. Initially singing locally at churches and appearing on a weekly radio show, the Staples scored a hit in 1956 with "Uncloudy Day" for the Vee-Jay label. When Mavis graduated from what is nowPaul Robeson High School in 1957, The Staple Singers took their music on the road. Led by family patriarch Roebuck "Pops" Staples on guitar and including the voices of Mavis and her siblings Cleotha, Yvonne, and Purvis, the Staples were called "God's Greatest Hitmakers."

With Mavis' voice and Pops' songs, singing, and guitar playing, the Staples evolved from enormously popular gospel singers (with recordings on Unitedand Riverside as well as Vee-Jay) to become the most spectacular and influential spirituality-based group in America. By the mid-1960s The Staple Singers, inspired by Pops' close friendship with Martin Luther King, Jr., became the spiritual and musical voices of the civil rights movement. They covered contemporary pop hits with positive messages, including Bob Dylan's "A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall" and a version of Stephen Stills' "For What It's Worth".

During a December 20, 2008 appearance on National Public Radio's news show Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! when Staples was asked about her past personal relationship with Dylan, she admitted they "were good friends, yes indeed" and that he had asked her father for her hand in marriage.

The Staples sang "message" songs like "Long Walk to D.C." and "When Will We Be Paid?," bringing their moving and articulate music to a huge number of young people. The group signed to Stax Records in 1968, joining their gospel harmonies and deep faith with musical accompaniment from members of Booker T. and the MGs. The Staple Singers hit the Top 40 eight times between 1971 and 1975, including two No. 1 singles, "I'll Take You There" and "Let's Do It Again," and a No. 2 single "Who Took the Merry Out of Christmas?" Staples made her first solo foray while at Epic Records with The Staple Singers releasing a lone single "Crying in the Chapel" to little fanfare in the late 1960s. The single was finally re-released on the 1994 Sony Music collection Lost Soul. Her first solo album would not come until a 1969 self-titled release for the Stax label. After another Stax release, Only for the Lonely, in 1970, she released a soundtrack album, A Piece of the Action, on Curtis Mayfield's Curtom label. A 1984 album (also self-titled) preceded two albums under the direction of rock star Prince; 1989's Time Waits for No One, followed by 1993's The Voice, which Peoplemagazine named one of the Top Ten Albums of 1993. Her recent 1996 release, Spirituals & Gospels: A Tribute to Mahalia Jackson was recorded with keyboardistLucky Peterson. The recording honours Mahalia Jackson, a close family friend and a significant influence on Mavis Staples' life. The Fairfield Four is an American gospel group that has existed for over 90 years. They started as a trio in Nashville, Tennessee's Fairfield Baptist Church in 1921. They were designated as National Heritage Fellows in 1989 by the National Endowment for the Arts.

p class="fwsubtitle">CELEBRATING BLACK HISTORY MONTH

THE FAIRFIELD FOUR

Congrats to the Grammy Winner - Best Roots Gospel Album

The Fairfield Four is an American gospel group that has existed for over 90 years. They started as a trio in Nashville, Tennessee's Fairfield Baptist Church in 1921. They were designated as National Heritage Fellows in 1989 by the National Endowment for the Arts.

The group won the 1998 Grammy for Best Traditional Soul Gospel Album. As a quintet, they featured briefly in the motion picture O Brother, Where Art Thou?.

The group gained more popular recognition after appearing on John Fogerty's 1997 album Blue Moon Swamp, singing on the track "A Hundred and Ten in the Shade". They also undertook live appearances with Fogerty. They also appeared on the song "There Will Be Peace in the Valley for Me" by Dolly Parton on her 2003 studio album For God and Country. They were later featured on the song "Rock of Ages" by Amy Grant & Vince Gill on Grant's 2005 studio album Rock of Ages... Hymns and Faith.

The Fairfield Four's newest album Still Rockin' My Soul! was released on March 10, 2015, and won the 58th Grammy awards.

CELEBRATING BLACK HISTORY MONTH

(JAMES) KOKOMO ARNOLD

(February 15, 1901 – November 8, 1968)

Kokomo Arnold (February 15, 1901 – November 8, 1968) was an American blues musician. Born as James Arnold in Lovejoy's Station, Georgia, he got his nickname in 1934 after releasing "Old Original Kokomo Blues" for the Decca label; it was a cover of the Scrapper Blackwell blues song about the city of Kokomo, Indiana. A left-handed slide guitarist, he had an intense slide style of playing and rapid-fire vocal style that set him apart from his contemporaries.

Having learned the basics of the guitar from his cousin, John Wiggs, Arnold began playing in the early 1920s as a sideline while he worked as a farmhand in Buffalo, New York, and as a steelworker in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In 1929 he moved to Chicago and set up a bootlegging business, an activity he continued throughout Prohibition. In 1930 Arnold moved south briefly, and made his first recordings, "Rainy Night Blues" and "Paddlin' Madeline Blues", under the name Gitfiddle Jim for the Victor label in Memphis.[3] He soon moved back to Chicago, although he was forced to make a living as a musician after Prohibition ended in 1933. Kansas Joe McCoy heard him and introduced him to Mayo Williams who was producing records for Decca.

From his first recording for Decca on September 10, 1934, until his last on May 12, 1938, Arnold made 88 sides, seven of which remain lost. Arnold, Peetie Wheatstraw and Bumble Bee Slim were dominant figures in Chicago blues circles of that time. Peetie Wheatstraw & Arnold in particular were also major influences upon musical contemporary seminal delta blues artist Robert Johnson and thus modern music as a whole. Johnson turned "Old Original Kokomo Blues" into "Sweet Home Chicago", "Milk Cow Blues" into "Milkcow's Calf Blues", while another Arnold song, "Sagefield Woman Blues", introduced the terminology "dust my broom", which Johnson used as a song title himself.

Other notable songs include his 1934 recording of the "Sissy Man Blues" with its openly bisexual lyrics, including the line, "Lord, if you can't send me no woman, please send me some sissy man."[6]This piece went on to also be recorded by other blues musicians of the era including Josh White (Pinewood Tom), George Noble and Connie McLean's Rhythm Kings.

In 1938 Arnold left the music industry and began to work in a Chicago factory. Rediscovered by blues researchers in 1962, he showed no enthusiasm for returning to music to take advantage of the new explosion of interest in the blues among young white audiences. He died of a heart attack in Chicago, aged 67, in 1968, and was buried in the Burr Oak Cemetery in Alsip, Illinois.

CELEBRATING BLACK HISTORY MONTH

LEAD BELLY

Huddie William Ledbetter (January 20, 1888 – December 6, 1949) was an American folk and blues musician notable for his strong vocals, virtuosity on the twelve-string guitar, and the songbook of folk standards he introduced. He is best known as Lead Belly. Though many releases list him as "Leadbelly", he himself wrote it as "Lead Belly", which is also the spelling on his tombstone and the spelling used by the Lead Belly Foundation. Lead Belly usually played a twelve-string guitar, but he also played the piano, mandolin, harmonica, violin, and "windjammer" (diatonic accordion). In some of his recordings he sings while clapping his hands or stomping his foot. Lead Belly's songs covered a wide range, including gospel music; blues about women, liquor, prison life, and racism; and folk songs about cowboys, prison, work, sailors, cattle herding, and dancing. He also wrote songs about people in the news, such as Franklin D. Roosevelt, Adolf Hitler, Jean Harlow, the Scottsboro Boys, and Howard Hughes. Lead Belly was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988 and the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame in 2008.[Wikipedia]

CELEBRATING BLACK HISTORY MONTH

DOM FLEMONS

Dom Flemons is the "American Songster," pulling from traditions of old-time folk music to create new sounds. Having performed music professionally since 2005, he has played live for over one million people just within the past three years. As part of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, which he co-founded with Rhiannon Giddens and Justin Robinson, he has played at a variety of festivals spanning from the Newport Folk Festival to Bonnaroo, in addition to renowned venues such as the Grand Ole Opry.

Raised in Phoenix, Arizona, Dom’s involvement with music began by playing percussion in his high school band. After picking up the guitar and harmonica as a teenager, he began to play in local coffee houses and became a regular performer on the Arizona folk music scene. Dom wrote his own songs and produced 25 albums of singer-songwriters and slam poets in the Phoenix area, including six albums of his own, during this time. He took a brief break from playing music in order to pursue slam poetry (he majored in English at Northern Arizona University) and performed in two national poetry slams in 2002 and 2003. Aside from exploring slam poetry, he spent his early adulthood listening to records and discovering a love of folk music, blues, jazz, jug band music, country music and ‘50s rock ‘n’ roll. Dom became interested in folk musicians such as Phil Ochs, Dave Van Ronk and Mike Seeger, as well as musicians such as Mississippi John Hurt, Howlin’ Wolf, Hank Williams, Chuck Berry and Carl Perkins. After stepping away from the slam poetry scene, he rekindled his interest in music, this time focusing on the old-time blues music of the pre-WWII era.

A multi-instrumentalist, Dom plays banjo, guitar, harmonica, fife, bones, bass drum, snare drum and quills, in addition to singing. He says that he incorporates his background in percussion to his banjo playing. Dom’s banjo repertoire includes not only clawhammer but also tenor and three-finger styles of playing. He first picked up the instrument when he borrowed a five-string banjo from a friend who had removed the instrument’s fifth string. As a founding member of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, an African-American string band, Dom was able to explore his interest in bringing traditional music to new audiences. The band won a GRAMMY for its 2011 album Genuine Negro Jig and was nominated for its most recent album, Leaving Eden, in 2012.

Dom says he would like to use the traditional forms of music he has heard and immersed himself in over the years to create new soundscapes that generate interest in old-time folk music. Focusing very much on creating music that is rooted in history but taking a contemporary approach, Dom hopes to reexamine what traditional music can become. In July 2014, Dom released his third solo record with Music Maker Relief Foundation, and his first since leaving the Carolina Chocolate Drops. Prospect Hill finds Flemons digging deeply into ragtime, Piedmont blues, spirituals, southern folk music, string band music, jug band music, fife and drum music, and ballads idioms with showmanship and humor, reinterpreting the music to suit 21st century audiences. He was featured on NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Grossand his new album has received praise from The Boston Globe, Paste Magazine, Living Blues Magazine, and more.

CELEBRATING BLACK HISTORY MONTH

SAM CHATMON

Sam Chatmon (January 10, 1897 – February 2, 1983) was a Delta blues guitarist and singer. He was a member of the Mississippi Sheiks and may have been Charlie Patton's half brother.

Chatmon was born in Bolton, Mississippi. Chatmon's family was well known in Mississippi for their musical talents; Chatmon was a member of the family's string band when he was young. He performed on a regular basis for white audiences in the 1900s.

The Chatmon band played rags, ballads, and popular dance tunes. Two of Sam's brothers, fiddler Lonnie Chatmon and guitarist Bo Carter, performed with guitarist Walter Vinson as the Mississippi Sheiks.

Chatmon played the banjo, mandolin, and harmonica in addition to the guitar. He performed at parties and on street corners throughout Mississippi for small pay and tips. In the 1930s he recorded both with the Sheiks, as well as with sibling Lonnie as the Chatman Brothers.

Chatmon moved to Hollandale, Mississippi in the early 1940s and worked on plantations in Hollandale. He was re-discovered in 1960 and started a new chapter of his career as folk-blues artist. In the same year Chatmon recorded for the Arhoolie record label. He toured extensively during the 1960s and 1970s. While in California in 1970 he got together and made several recordings with Sue Draheim, Kenny Hall, Ed Littlefield, Lou Curtiss, Kathy Hall, Will Scarlett and others at Sweet's Mill Music Camp, forming a group he called "The California Sheiks".[1] He played many of the largest and best-known folk festivals, including the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington, D.C. in 1972, the Mariposa Folk Festival in Toronto in 1974, and the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival in 1976.

During an interview Chatmon explained that he started playing the guitar with 3 years of age, by laying it flat on the floor and crawling under it.[2]

A headstone memorial to Chatmon with the inscription "Sitting on top of the World" was paid for by Bonnie Raitt through the Mt. Zion Memorial Fund and placed in Sanders Memorial Cemetery, Hollandale, Mississippi on March 14, 1998 at a large ceremomy held at the Hollandale Municipal Building, celebrated by the Mayor and members of the City Council of Hollandale as well as over 100 attendees.[Wikipedia]

KRIS KRISTOFFERSON & MERLE HAGGARD

Dateline Beverly Hills,

February 2, 2016:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Merle Haggard's concert with Kris Kristofferson at the Saban Theatre tonight was canceled due to Merle's illness. He is recovering from double pneumonia.

FolkWorks wishes Merle Haggard a complete, painless, and speedy recovery so that your concert with Kris Kristofferson may be rescheduled later this year.

All fans of great country and folk music are on the fighting side of Merle Haggard and send our heartfelt prayers and good wishes to his family for a return to good health.