Kim Wilson has established a legacy as one of the all-time greats. His powerful harmonica playing led Muddy Waters to call him "the greatest harmonica player since Little Walter". As a young rambler, he hung around and absorbed the mastery of greats like George Harmonica Smith, Big Jack Johnson, Walter Horton, Eddie Taylor, Jimmy Rodgers, James Cotton, Pine Top Perkins, Dave Myers, Muddy Waters and others! His soaring vocals are displayed in episode #4 and his performance of "I Can't Quit You Baby" evokes Otis Rush at this best.....no better compliment could exist! With guitarist Jimmie Vaughan, he formed the Fabulous Thunderbirds (one of the natural wonders of the modern world!) He is featured on 3 cuts from the T-Bird's first 3 records. We also added his 1993 solo recording "Tiger Man" as Kim gets low down on Sonny Boy Williamson's 'Trust My Baby", and rips up Johnny Guitar Watson's "Don't Touch Me Baby" with burning guitar from Duke Robillard. Still strong at age 69, Kim keeps the blues tradition alive and well!
Roomful of Blues in 1979.....one of the greatest bands in history! They open episode#4 and if you ever saw them live in this configuration, you are very fortunate! From L: Al Copley (pno) Preston Hubbard (bs) Duke Robillard (v,gtr) Doug James (Baritone Sax) John Rossi (drums) Greg Piccolo (Tenor sax) Rich Lataille (alto sax). They recieved the ultimate compliment from the great Count Basie, who called them "the hottest blues band I have ever seen". They recorded stellar albums with greats Big Joe Turner, Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson, and Earl King.....all of which will be featured in future episodes! Enjoy, and explore this band!
The great Greg Piccolo is a human hurricane on the tenor sax. In the tradition of Red Prysock, Joe Houston, and other master blasters, he plays a very physical and big toned style. His stellar work with Roomful of Blues is featured in episode #4 and we also hear his vocal skill on 1984's "Yes Indeed". Also featured Greg's solo 1990 masterpiece "Heavy Juice" which featured Roomful alumni, including Duke Roblillard! Greg was fronting his own band and touring occasionally with Jimmie Vaughan before COVID. Greg also plays guitar, and you can explore his website gregpiccolo.com
The James Harman experience is an unforgettable one!
Born in Anniston, Alabama in 1946, as a teen, James knew he wanted to be a musician after seeing Little Junior Parker perform! He got around the country before settling in Southern California, and he has been a respected icon there and on the European and International touring circuits. James sings with gospel fervor, plays ferocious harmonica, and writes great songs drawing from multiple themes. Tom got to know James out in California, and he spent magic afternoons listening to vintage 78 RPM records and James' endless stories. James has an expansive recorded output, including guest appearances with ZZ Top! During COVID, he is making video appearances with long-time guitarist Nathan James. For episode #4 we chose tunes from the 1988 Rivera records release "Extra Napkins" (which featured stellar backup from guitarists Hollywood Fats and Kid Ramos, drummer Stephen Hodges, bassist Willie J Campbell, pianist Gene Taylor and some great horn players!) and also 2 cuts from 1998's "Taking Chances" on Cannonball Records. These cuts give you a great representation of James and his larger than life personality and life experience! An all-time great! Check out the story and imagery he creates in his originals, especially in the ode to wisdom and longevity......."Old Man Eyes"!
The Hollywood Fats Band, L to R: Al Blake v/hca,
Fred Kaplan pno, Hollywood Fats (Michael Mann) gtr, Larry Taylor bs, Richard Innes drms.
These guys created a legacy that started with Fats and continued with Kim Wilson who used Fred Kaplan on recordings, and made Taylor and Innes regular members of his Blues All Stars until their untimely deaths. Fats was a child prodigy who learned at the Ash Grove in Los Angeles, and was hired by Muddy Waters as a teenager! He played with many blues greats, toured as a member of Canned Heat, the James Harman Band and the Blasters! His tragic death at age 32 in 1984 was a loss of significance! Much more to come from Fats!
Born in 1948 in Woonsocket Rhode Island, Duke Robillard got the ultimate compliment from none other than Hollywood Fats, who told Tom Moore in 1983 "Duke has done more stuff better and longer than anyone". An expert in rock, blues, and jazz, Duke's accomplishments are best reviewed by going to his website dukerobillard.com. For this episode we present him with the 1979 edition of Roomful of blues as vocalist and guitarist. We also feature him playing a scorching solo behind Kim Wilson on a fine version of Johnny Guitar Watson's "Don't Touch Me Baby". Duke has toured with The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Bob Dylan, rockabilly singer Robert Gordon, The Legendary Blues Band, and his own fine ensembles. He has fabulous jazz recordings with the likes of Scott Hamilton, low down blues with Snooky Pryor.......and a recent gem with his "Dames Of Rhythm". He is an American treasure!
David "Kid" Ramos was born in 1959 in Fullerton California. He is only featured on one song in Episode #4, but don't worry there is plenty more to the Kid Ramos story and Mambo Sauce is pleased to relate that Neil had plenty of Kid in his collection, and that Tom picked up some gems as well. Kid is a true student of the blues and he was half of one of the greatest guitar tandems ever, along with Hollywood Fats in the James Harman Band! After Harman, he did a stint with Roomful of Blues, a long run with The Fabulous Thunderbirds, some excellent work with vocalist Lynwood Slim, and he helped found Los Fabulocos, who you will hear in future episodes! He has great recordings under his own name as well, and he sings just fine on a few numbers! We salute him on his courageous fight with cancer, now in remission! Look out for more Kid Ramos very soon!
Jimmie Vaughan formed the Fabulous Thunderbirds along with Kim Wilson, bassist Keith Ferguson, drummer Mike Buck, later replaced by Fran Christina. The 1979 debut LP "Girls Go Wild" sent shock waves all across the music world. With an angry, powerful, and savage sound that was somehow at the same time tempered by cool restraint, the Thunderbirds earned raves from the great Muddy Waters and other blues legends. As house band at Antone's club in Austin Texas, the Thunderbirds carved out a reputation, and their first 3 records were steeped in the blues, and we present cuts from these in episode #4. Behind Kim Wilson's huge vocals and versatile harmonica, Vaughan's rhythmic genius and fiery solos, and a fierce rhythm section, they were adept at the Chess records musical vocabulary, the Westside fire of Otis Rush and Magic Sam, the gulf coast sounds of Lazy Lester and Slim Harpo, and they wrote originals! Please enjoy these great recordings!