Speaking of March Madness, who’s idea was it to borrow so heavily from the President’s brackets? All top seeds? All gone. Although I must admit, it’s made the games far more entertaining. I don’t usually find myself agreeing with Charles Barkley, but I liked his comment at the end of a drama-filled weekend of Elite 8 match-ups: “If you didn’t like these four games, you don’t enjoy sports.” Not that enjoyment of sports is a civic duty. For example, I don’t care much for the fashion industry. I think all Americans should be required to wear uniforms with our names sewn on our shirts… might help stop bullying. But I digress.
Let’s jump back to jump blues: Here’s an act I knew next to nothing about until I came across a post on the Hound Blog. The Treniers were identical twins Cliff and Claude from Mobile, Alabama, usually backed by assorted relatives and hired hands. And as you can tell from this clip, their stock in trade was tearin’ it up onstage – mostly in Vegas or Atlantic City lounges. “The modern world knows no equivalent of the Treniers, who like Louis Prima with Sam Butera & the Witnesses, were all about entertaining their audience,” The Hound wrote. “They didn’t need a dozen tractor trailer trucks full of crap like U2 carry around…” Here’s a wild performance from ’53 on a show called “Night Music” (anyone familiar with that one?).
One of my favorite jump blues artists is Amos Milburn, a wonderful piano player who also performed some top-shelf drinking songs, including One Scotch, One Bourbon, One Beer and Let Me Go Home Whiskey. Here’s another one, and Milburn plays it with a smile on his face, despite losing his happy home and having to borrow Paul Williams’ band.
Blues doesn’t get much better than this clip from “And This is Free: The Life and Times of Chicago’s Legendary Maxwell St.,” a cinema verite-style documentary filmed in 1964 by director Mike Shea with assistance from guitarist Mike Bloomfield. Robert Nighthawk was a fixture on Maxwell Street during the early Sixties, and this slow-burning original shows why legends like Muddy Waters and Sonny Boy Williamson couldn’t get enough of Nighthawk’s deep, dark blues. It’s strong stuff, as you can see from the very personal ways that people experience his music. And the video captures a time and place that’s long gone.
Buddy Guy, Junior Wells and Magic Sam led the next wave of Chicago bluesmen. And tunes like Sam’s Boogie show what the fuss was all about – hard-driving, relentless, rockin’… Muddy wasn’t exactly running scared, but he was definitely paying attention. This clip starts out with a brief interview on a train as Magic Sam talks about his roots, playing the one-string “diddley bow” down in Mississippi. Then it moves to his signature song, All Your Love, followed by the show-stopping Sam’s Boogie. Essential blues – and amazingly, still available on youtube.