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Curt Brown (on right) with the great
Chicago DJ Steve Cushing
Mambo Sauce is thrilled to announce the addition of Curt Brown as a contributor to the web site and program! A resident of the Michiana area, Curt did a dissertation on the blues for his college graduate program, and he has amassed a superb collection of Blues recordings, literature, and concert posters, He has rare photographs of the many Blues artists that he ventured out to see in person. Curt was welcome in a number of South and West Side neighborhood taverns that outsiders rarely dared to venture to. Curt's polite and unassuming mannerisms allowed him to gain the friendship and trust of many of America's top blues artists, and we will soon be featuring a fantastic article on Curt's relationship with Luis Prima's saxaphonist, bandleader, and right hand man......Sam Butera! Curt had a long running radio program "Rolling With The Blues", and his put-the -music-first approach is a huge influence on the philosophy and direction of Mambo Sauce. Look for a detailed biography and more outstanding contributions from Curt in the near future!
RICKY NYE:A tribute to big joe duskin
A TRIBUTE to BIG JOE DUSKIN (1921-2007) by Ricky Nye
I first met Big Joe Duskin in ’82, before I ever started to mess around with boogie woogie- that didn’t matter to Joe, he just knew I played piano, and that made us friends. Through the time I’ve known him he has always been very supportive of me, and of so many musicians. His playing and singing was loved by blues enthusiasts and fellow piano players all over the world- I can’t tell you how many times, upon encountering the European leaders in blues & boogie in my travels, their first words to me were “how’s Big Joe?”
I treasure the times we played together, the many phone calls, running errands and especially meaningful were the times visiting Joe during his last year, when he was bedridden- I’d come in, turn on his keyboard and go at it, and Joe would lay in bed and sing his head off, improvising blues I’d never heard from him before.
Because I loved Joe, it was inevitable that aspects of his style made their way into my playing- his album “Cincinnati Stomp” was a template for me to study boogie woogie, and I learned the title track to perform as homage to him. When he played a blues, he was on “Joe time”- the lazy tremolos, the space in his playing all added up to me. The message in his style also came as words of advice he gave one day- he said “Rick, take it from an old pro: don’t work so hard! Take your time, talk to the people- they like that.” I knew exactly what he was talking about, but I said “Joe, you have a commanding presence, a big booming voice, you’re a great storyteller...I’m just a little white guy- what am I supposed to do? If I start talking away, they’d just tell me to shut up & play!” And he laughed, which is something I really miss- his chuckling, and the sound of his laughter will always resound in my mind.
Big Joe’s love of food is legendary- it mattered as much to him how you were fed at a gig as any other aspect of the show. If I called to relate tales of my travels, he’d always ask “how’d they feed you?” After Joe played a prestigious concert at Music Hall in Cincinnati, I called to see how things went- he said “Rick, it was so nice- they had fried chicken, mashed potatoes, peas...”-nothing was said of the performance! Once when visiting Joe in the hospital, he asked if I would go downstairs to the Burger King and get him a cheeseburger & french fries. When I asked if didn’t they have him on a particular diet, he said “hell with them- I’m going home tomorrow”. So I indulged him, and you would have thought he was eating the finest meal of his life...food was a big pleasure for Big Joe.
His compromised health in the last years of his life did nothing to dampen his hope and spirit. Joe’s performance at his 84th birthday party was a perfect example of the transference of love from his fans right back at them- it was the last time he was truly on fire, playing and singing until he had nothing left to give. To see him hold court at the Arches Stage at the annual Cincy Blues Fest was always beautiful- his appreciation for the other pianists and their appreciation for him always resulted in a truly inspired and joyous set.
I feel truly blessed to have had Joe as a friend and inspiration to me. Years ago, after he was in the hospital on a regular basis, I wondered when the day would come that Joe would leave this earth, and that day arrived- May 6th, 2007. Yet his spirit is alive and strong, in myself and every other musician he’s played with and encouraged. Whenever I play, especially now, I offer it up for him...
God bless Big Joe Duskin.