Gonna Get You Baby – Willie Johnson & Homesick James
I produced this track in Chicago around 1992 when I was working with guitarist Willie Johnson on his first album as a leader. Willie had worked with Howlin’ Wolf in the early 1950s until Wolf could no longer tolerate Willie’s excessive drinking and mood swings. Those recordings made Willie a legend to subsequent blues and rock blues guitarists. He also worked a lot in the 1960s with bandleaders Sunnyland Slim and Kansas City Red, who also eventually fired him for the same reasons.
It was Sunnyland Slim who told me around 1988 that Willie wanted to get back into playing. At that time I took Willie in the studio and recorded an album, with him on lead guitar and vocals, Kansas City Red on drums, Willie Kent on bass, Lester Davenport on harmonica and Sunnyland Slim on piano. Half of that session came out of Wolf Records, and the other half I have not yet released. This track will be added to that session when it comes out on Earwig.
Homesick James also could be tough to get along with. He and Willie had a lot of respect for each other as musicians, so I thought it would be an interesting experiment to record them together. I made this decision and booked studio time on short notice, so I did not have time to line up a rhythm section. Homesick at that time was living out of state and was in town for the Chicago Blues Festival. Homesick James can be heard on Earwig CD4929 – Goin’ Back In the Times, a rare solo album by Homesick, who usually recorded with a full band. I recorded him that way too, but his mercurial personality disrupted the band sessions, so I have not released the band tracks.
Mad Dog Shuffle – KC Red & Midnight Ramblers
Mad Dog Shuffle is a jaunty instrumental shuffle by Kansas City Red and His Midnight Ramblers. – Milton Houston – guitar, Lester Davenport – harmonica, Willie Buckner – bass, Kansas City Red (Arthur Lee Stephenson) – drums. This track was recorded in 1985 in Buffalo, New York, when I booked them on a short tour in Pennsylvania and New York. Red can also be heard on Earwig CD4902 – Old Friends, and Lester can be heard on his Earwig CD4923 – When the Blues Hit You, and on CD4935 – Aron Burton Live in Chicago.