The Real McCoy
Featuring Lewis “Big Lew” Powell
Dixon Landing Music
Born in 1975, Alex Dixon was raised by his grandparents Willie and Marie Dixon. Willie Dixon, blues musician and songwriter, passed in January of 1992. So Alex spent his formative years living with his grandparents in both Chicago and Los Angeles and was schooled by the blues royalty he met. Now forty-five years old Alex recalls “I got to meet Muddy Waters, and people like Johnny Shines and Johnny Winter, they’d just come by the house. When I was five or six years old, I would play my piano at the house and my grandfather would kind of show me off, and say hey, play this Little Brother Montgomery-style, Little Brother Montgomery taught me how to play ‘44 Blues’, Lafayette Leake was my piano teacher. If people say I’m too rock ‘n’ roll, I’ll tell them well my piano teacher played on ‘Johnny B. Goode’. My grandfather played upright bass. I’m both rock ‘n’ roll and blues”.
Alex continues “I’ve been playing blues for the last 30 years, mostly as a songwriter. I wrote songs with my grandfather, one of them called “Study War No More” was included on his 1989 album “Hidden Charms”, which won a Grammy Award for Best Traditional Blues Album”. “The Real McCoy” includes six songs written or co-written by Alex; and five penned by grandpa Willie.
Alex, electric and upright bass, and piano; is joined by lead vocalist Lewis “Big Lew” Powell whom he met at the 2015 Chicago Blues Festival. Alex is also Producer on the album and previously produced Chicago blues veteran Cash McCall. They are joined by guitarists Gino Matteo, Joey Delgado of The Delgado Brothers, Rico McFarland from the Sugar Blue Band, and the fabulous Melvin Taylor. Also playing harmonica on three songs is Sugar Blue and when he’s not playing the harpist is Steve Bell, Lurrie’s brother and son of the legendary Carey Bell. The rhythm section is completed by Alvino Bennett on drums. Backing vocalists include Whaia and Alex Dixon’s thirteen-year-old daughter Leila.
This is no non-sense straight ahead Chicago Blues. Originals from Alex include “Nothing New Under The Sun” and the title track “The Real McCoy” featuring Leila; “10,000 Miles Away” was written by him with members of the band including Bennett and Powell; while the instrumental “Chi-Town Boogie” is from him and Powell.
The Willie Dixon songs included are “I Want To Be Loved” recorded by Muddy Waters in 1955; “Groanin’ The Blues” cut by Otis Rush in 1957; “Howlin’ For My Darlin’” written with and recorded by Howlin’ Wolf in 1959; “Spider In My Stew” a hit for Buster Benton in 1973; and “When I Make Love” performed by Margie Evans also in 1973.
Big Lew proves himself a formidable vocalist on this, the album Alex Dixon always wanted to make. “The Real McCoy” captures the exuberance of those robust early Chicago blues recordings. Alex learned his lessons well.