Howlin’ At Greaseland
West Tone Records
Chester Arthur Burnett a.k.a. Howlin’ Wolf was a Chicago blues singer, guitarist and harmonica player. Musician and music critic Michael “Cub” Koda said it best “no one could match Howlin’ Wolf for the singular ability to rock the house down…while simultaneously scaring its patrons out of its wits”. Born in 1910, in Mississippi, Wolf migrated to Chicago and while living recorded at least fifteen albums. He died in 1976 and posthumously released an additional six compilations. He won a Grammy in 1956 for his Chess Records single “Smokestack Lightning”. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame lists three songs of his that helped to shape Rock and Roll. Wolf has a total of nine Blues Music Awards winning five times; he last won in 2012 for Historical Album of The Year.
Christoffer “Kid” Andersen, currently the guitarist with Rick Estrin & The Nightcats, has four Blues Music Award nominations for Best Instrumentalist – Guitar. He opened his Greaseland Recording Studio in 2006. In 2017 his studio received a “Keepin The Blues Alive Award” from The Blues Foundation as over 50 notable recordings were made there. This Howlin Wolf tribute is a compilation by Anderson and Bobby Yamilov who kept recording between songs as they talked about Wolf. The Executive Producer is Stephanie Tice.
“Meet Me in The Bottom” features a vocal by Alabama Mike. The band is Rick Estrin & The Nightcats with Estrin, harp; Anderson, guitar; Lorenzo Farrell, piano; Alex Petterson, drums; and Yamilov sitting in on bass.
Terry Hanck is a saxophonist, singer, and songwriter who was influenced by the blues and jazz of the late fifties and early sixties. Hanck was also a Blues Music Award winner for Best Instrumentalist – Horn in both 2012 and 2016. Hanck says that his father was a concert promoter who once booked Wolf. Hanck sings on “Howlin For My Darling”. Anderson switches to bass, Johnny Cat Soubrand plays guitar, Jim Pugh, plays piano, and Petterson plays drums.
Chicago Vocalist Tail Dragger Jones used to sit in with Wolf at concerts. Tail Dragger once killed a man in self-defense and spent seventeen months in prison. Tail Dragger sings “I’m Leaving You” with Rockin’ Johnny Burgin, guitar; Aki Kumar, harp; Pugh, piano; Vance Ehlers, bass; and June Core, drums. Tail Dragger also sings on “Don’t Trust No Woman” with the same band lineup.
Ninety-two year old Henry Gray was Howlin Wolf’s piano player from 1956 until 1968. Gray sings and plays piano on “Worried Life Blues”. He is joined by Kumar, harp; Chris James, guitar; Patrick Rynn, bass; and Core drums. Gray sings and plays piano again on “Little Red Rooster” which is performed as a duo with just Anderson on acoustic guitar. These two songs were recorded in 2015.
John Blues Boyd is the accomplished vocalist who sings on “Smokestack Lightnin’”; “Riding in The Moonlight”; and “Spoonful”. The band includes Anderson and Burgin, guitars; Estrin, harp; Pugh, piano; Joe Kyle Jr. on bass; and Omar Martin, drums. These sessions were recorded in 2016.
Lee Donald used to front his own band “LD & The Blues Crew” and he sings on “Forty Four”. This tune was recorded back in 2012. The band is Anderson, piano; Soubrand, guitar; Kumar, harp; Mike Phillips, bass; and Core, drums.
This is a thoroughly enjoyable tribute to Howlin Wolf who was inducted into The Blues Hall of Fame in 1980.
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