Saturday, April 01, 2006

Musings from Mr. Solid

By John Lee

I was going over my book shelves recently to see what books were there that I haven’t read yet (there are 14 in all), when I came across a book that I haven’t read in 20 years - HONKERS AND SHOUTERS- The Golden Years Of Rhythm And Blues by Arnold Shaw (1978).

The first words written by Mr. Shaw are: “To the memory of Dinah Washington, T-Bone Walker, and Louis Jordan, and to all the great blues singers who helped give depth and height to American popular music.” As the synopsis on the back page of this great book explains, “Revolutionizing pop music over two decades ago (the book was published in 1978) with its unbuttoned, anything goes energy and irresistible summons to 'let the good times roll' rhythm and blues surged across the color line into the mainstream of American pop. Honkers and Shouters brings vibrantly back to life the pulsing electric guitar and honking tenor sax, the shouts of Kansas City’s Big Joe Turner, and the harmonies of Harlem’s Hill street-corner groups. Arnold Shaw recreates the history of the R&B era as it has never been done before-the whole foot-tapping, hand-clapping story.”

This work is both a good read and a serious academic endeavor. The great B.B. King sums it up perfectly: “HONKERS AND SHOUTERS is the first book that presents Rhythm and Blues in all its variety and gives recognition to its true status as a unique black art form. It’s a must for anyone who wants to understand where Rock & Roll came from.”

Do yourself a favor, and read this book. I hope you dig it as much as I do.

April Blues Birthdays

Otis Rush - April 29, 1934
Alberta Hunter - April 1, 1895 (died 1984)
Muddy Waters - April 4, 1915 (died 1983)
"Big" Walter_Horton - April 6, 1918 (died 1981)
Mance Lipscomb - April 9, 1895 (died 1976)
“Hound Dog” Taylor - April 12, 1915 (died 1975)
“Gatemouth” Brown - April 18, 1924 (died 2005)
Albert King - April 25, 1923 (died 1992)
Johnny Shines - April 26, 1915 (died 1992)
“Blind” Gary Davis - April 30, 1896 (died 1972)

Electric bassist John "Mr. Solid" Lee was born in Alaska and has been active in the Seattle blues scene for about 30 years. He currently plays with the Crossroads Band. Photo by Mike Coyote.

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