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May 16th-20th Green Bay Rockin' 50s Fest. Played with a bunch o' folks here... rockabilly, doo wop, etc. One of the most memorable sets was with my good friend Big Joe Louis. I hadn't played with him in about 10 years but he was better than ever. He started the set solo, then brought me up for a boogie woogie style duet. Next we were joined by drummer Peter Greatorex for a version of Roosevelt Sykes 'Rock It'. Finally came Chicagoans Jimmy Sutton, a fabulous bass player, and Billy Flynn, who I had not met before, on harmonica & guitar. Billy is a fine blues man in his own right and I hope to have the chance to work with him again sometime. The set was well received and I must say it was a blast to work with Big Joe Louis once again.
June 7th I was in Chicago for the Blues Festival. This being the centennial of boogie woogie great Albert Ammons' birth I was hired, along with fellow Brit Bob Hall and Belgian Renaud Patigny, to play some boogie & participate in a panel discussion with Ammons family members Edsel (Albert's son) & Lila (Albert's granddaughter & a talented jazz singer). We the pianists were asked to speak about Albert's piano stylings and what attracted us to his playing while Edsel shared some wonderful childhood memories of his father. Lila talked about Albert's musical legacy and the shows that she is promoting this year in the hope of spreading awareness of Albert's music (I was fortunate enough to have played on the first of these shows in Pasedena, California). The concert series will culminate on September 22nd, close to Albert's birthday, in Chicago. Lila is in the process of putting up a website: www.albert-ammons.com.
June 14th I played with Billy Boy Arnold at the Del Mar Fair near San Diego, CA. The band featured guitar great Junior Watson, Johnny Bazz on bass & Jerry Angel on drums. Johnny & Jerry are members of the Blasters.
June 28th, also at the Del Mar fair I played with ex Muddy Waters harmonica man Mojo Buford. Once again Johnny Bazz was on bass, Bill Bateman (ex Blasters) was on drums & another great player Kid Ramos was on guitar.
Both of these shows were a pleasure to play. I had worked with Billy Boy a couple of times in the past & played on one of his cds. It was nice to be able to spend some time with him again. His classic Vee Jay recordings have always been among my favourites. I found Mojo Buford to be a delightful old guy. I had seen him with Muddy Waters at Knebworth in 1982. As expected he played a good deal of Muddy Waters material in his show & when I turned on some Otis Spann style licks he was visibly pleased.