Jontavious Willis in Blues Center Interview #1 remastered

Jontavious Willis at Summerstage in Central Park

The Georgian blues phenom sits down for the inaugural Blues Center interview. In this expanded edition Jontavious talks about his mentor Taj Mahal, going down to Louisiana to get a mojo hand and Fats Domino’s update to “Junker’s Blues” with “The Fat Man.” Newly added concert footage from his appearances in New York City add to this mess o’ blues. Oh, and he can play county blues like a much older bluesman.

The Blues Continues – Octogenarians Mayall, Rush and Guy Steal the Show

The 2018 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival is now in the books. This time around the blues tent was the place to be! Grammy winner Bobby Rush also stood out in the interview stage jamming with his producer Scott Billington on blues harp). John Mayall, the dean of British blues, regained his dueling lead guitar format with Carolyn Wonderland. And not to be left out Buddy Guy sizzled on guitar, as he took his case directly to the audience (see photo).

 

Bobby Rush at the 2018 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival
John Mayall at the 2018 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival
The 2018 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival
Buddy Guy at the 2018 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival
Buddy takes the axe down the aisle. Blasting blues licks through the crowd

Antonio Maggio – First Published Blues Song in 1908

Antonio Maggio was a fascinating man best known as an early creator of blues music. His song “I Got the Blues,” which became a hit in New Orleans in 1908, was the first published 12-bar blues with “blues” in the title. The dramatic events of his life, besides showing the context of his musical imagination, illustrate the unique process of becoming a New Orleanian during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Born in Cefalu, Sicily in 1876, Maggio came
to the city as a teenager, and like his father and his brothers, he was a consummate musician and multi-instrumentalist.

Though he worked at his brother’s barbershop, he was said to spend more time playing music in the streets, and was a contemporary of other notable New Orleans music pioneers; in the mid-1890s, he was playing in a string band at Poydras Market, just a couple of blocks away from Charlie Galloway’s barbershop frequented by Buddy Bolden. By the time he was 25, he had led a brass band, played background music for wild animal shows, and toured the United States with an opera company. Then, the major shattering event of his life happened: President McKinley was felled by an assassin’s bullet, and Maggio, due to his loudly proclaimed sympathies for both socialism and anarchism, was detained without trial as a suspect. Several months passed before he was released, then he returned to New Orleans to resume his musical career. For years, he was playing several gigs around town, including at Fabacher’s Restaurant, when a chance encounter on the levee changed music history. He stopped to listen to an African American man playing a guitar, and growing curious, Maggio asked the man what song he was playing, and he replied, “I got the blues.”

Maggio then went home and composed a song based on what he had heard—as he explained in an interview towards the end of his life in the 1950s—and he had not intended this as a serious composition, but nonetheless, it took off like wildfire in the city, becoming a favorite song requested by audiences in multiple venues. Led by curiosity, trusting his ear, and acting on instinct, Maggio made a contribution to perhaps the most significant musical idiom to emerge from the Deep South, the blues. The genesis of “I Got the Blues” encapsulates the long story of complex interactions between European and African American musicians, and by paying close attention to historical context, we can begin to understand how New Orleans has provided an environment where such interactions take place.

Shane Lief wrote his MA in Musicology thesis at Tulane University: “Staging New Orleans: The Contested Space of Congo Square.” He is currently at work on a PhD in Linguistics, focusing on multilingualism in New Orleans and how Native American, African, and European traditions have influenced the linguistic and musical landscape of the city. Read the full story in Vol. XXV of Jazz Archivist https://jazz.tulane.edu/jazz-archivist

John Mellencamp’s Return to Roots

John Mellencamp has returned to roots music once again on ‘Sad Clowns and Hillbillies.’ It is the Rock Hall of Famer and co-founder of Farm Aid’s 23rd release. Read more here:

 

https://www.americanbluesscene.com/2017/06/john-mellencamp-celebrates-spirit-sad-clowns-hillbillies/