(SF) Bay Area Blues Beat / July 1997
Sat Jul 5 11:42:04 EDT 1997
Dear Blues-Eller Friends,
Here is the monthly column I write for Southland Blues, published out of
Long Beach, California.
Best summertime-blues regards from San Francisco,
For inclusion in the July 1997 issue of
Bay Area Blues Beat
All Rights Reserved 07/97
BAY AREA BLUES BEAT CD OF THE MONTH: Bay Arean Chris Strachwitz (and his
renowned label Arhoolie Records) has just released, "Sacred Steel --
Traditional Sacred African American Steel Guitar Music in Florida"
(CD450.) Recorded in 1993 & 1994, it's a 20-track revelation of spiritual
grace, soaring melodies and downright, down-home choogling. Play it at
your house and I guarantee you, Sundays will never be the same.
JULY FESTIVALS: Blues impresario Mark Naftalin presents the 17th Annual
Marin County Blues Festival on July 6th at the Fairgrounds in San Rafael.
Lovingly produced and closer to an old-style R&B revue than any festival I
know, this year's Festival features another strong line-up of superstars,
unsung heroes and up-and-comers. One of the best Cajun-Zydeco bands in
swamp-boogie-mad Northern California is Tee Fee, who'll get their music
out to the anywhere from two to four-thousand people who usually attend.
Another treat is a reunion of former members of the legendary Paul
Butterfield Blues Band featuring keyboardist Naftalin, drummer Billy
Davenport & bassist Bugsy Maugh, along with (Conan O'Brien guitarist)
Jimmy Vivino and Connecticut-based Chance Browne; The fair-going crowd
will also be treated to the music of Sonny Rhodes; one of my all-time
favorites... Ron Thompson & the Resistors; Lady Bianca; Earl "Good
Rockin'" Brown; Lowell Fulson; Maurice McKinnies, J.J. Malone and Bobby
"Mr. Goodfingers" Murray. The Blues Festival is free with county fair
admission. Call 415-499-6400 for more info.
The Central Coast Blues & Brews Festival at El Capitan Canyon, (just north
of Santa Barbara in Goleta,) holds blues proceedings from July 3-6 with a
great lineup including Charlie Musselwhite, Tommy Castro, Alvin
"Youngblood" Hart, Elvin Bishop, Ron Thompson, James Harman, Little
Charlie, Sista Monica, Ball & Sultan, Little Jonny and many others. Call
209-533-3473 for more info.
The Bay Area Blues Society features Blues and BBQ in Oakland's Estuary
Park on July 6th. This year's festival presents a unique "Great Ladies of
the Blues" concept featuring Lady Bo, Lady Bianca, Zakiya Hooker, Lady
Margaret and "Oh Happy Day's" Dorothy Morrison and several others. BABS
factotum Ronnie Stewart and his terrific band, the Bay Area Caravan of All
Stars, will play as well. Call 510-836-2227 for more info.
PUBLISHING NOTE: The Fifth Edition of the Blues Buyer's Guide features
about 75-pages of highly-useful information including ratings,
grid-comparisons and capsulized reviews. Published in Virginia by Andrew
Gordon, and looking like a 'zine or school report, this handy and
imaginatively-laid out, $13 guide might save you a lot of listening time
and certainly money by reprinting the major blues press' critiques of over
1,200 blues releases from 1994 through the end of last year. It's also a
fun reference read. Call 800-704-1520 to purchase a copy .
BLUES BEAT CONGRATULATIONS to Bay Area ragtime trio, Bo Grumpus, for
pulling down a headline slot at the prestigious JVC Jazz Festival in the
Big Apple last month. Also, the red-headed wonder Rusty Zinn will be
featured in the October edition of Guitar Player magazine.
Is there is any blues-related info you want to know about in the Bay
Area? Send a line to SB or e-mail me: email@example.com. See you next
- End -
P.S. Since press time, a beloved figure in the blues world, Johnny
Copeland, has passed away. I'm including the bio I wrote on him for the
Santa Cruz Blues Festival's Program this past May. Unfortunately, he
never made it. Rest in peace, Twister. Thanks for all your music and all
Johnny "Clyde" Copeland
by Joseph Jordan
(Contributing Writer with Blues Access/Blues Revue/Southland Blues)
All Rights Reserved
Johnny "Clyde" Copeland, the son of tenant farmers, was born in
Haynesville, Louisiana, in March of 1937. That would make him 60 right
now if he were a normal human being.
To look at it another way, Johnny is now enjoying the very start of his
second life and he just turned four months old.
A great and imposing guitarist, superb song-writer and expressive guttural
singer, Copeland had been dying of congenital heart disease. On New
Year's Day of this year, in New York City's Columbia Presbyterian Medical
Center, he was the grateful recipient of a heart donor-transplant. He
underwent two separate operations, that saved his life, and saved a
precious figure in American music. Before his transplant, Copeland had
undergone six separate open-heart surgeries.
It is a miracle he is playing his deep-in-the-heart-of-Texas-blues for us
this weekend. Copeland's new life is a tribute to his dogged
determination and indomitable will, qualities so like the basic humanity
of the blues.
Johnny had been living with the assistance of an LVAD (Left Ventricular
Assist Device) since mid-1995, when his weakened heart, a third of which
had been destroyed, left him near death. The LVAD is a mechanical pump
implanted in a patient's abdomen which does the pumping of the left
chamber of the heart. It is powered by a three-pound battery which the
patient carries in a shoulder holster. His 20-month stay on the LVAD
marked the longest period of time that any individual in the world has
survived on that new experimental device. Without it, he had a 100%
chance of death.
The next step for Copeland's physicians is to watch for rejection of the
"new-heart" throughout the next year, although it is reported to be "a
perfect match." He'll have to remain on immuno-suppressant drugs for the
rest of his life, however, it's expected his health, stamina and strength
will be better than they've been in many years.
Copeland's recording history has spanned five decades and he's won nearly
every tribute available to a bluesman including a Grammy award, (for
1986's "Showdown" with Marin County's Robert Cray and the late, truly
great Albert Collins,) a second Grammy nomination, four W.C. Handy
Awards, the Big Bill Broonzy award from the French National Academy of
Jazz and the Grand Prize for Recordings from the Montreux Jazz Festival.
He has over two dozen albums under his belt and has recorded for labels
such as Mercury, Atlantic, Kent, Rounder, and most recently Verve/Gitanes.
Having established himself as another standard-bearer in the long Texas
blues guitar tradition, (from Lemon Jefferson & Leadbelly, to T-Bone
Walker & Lowell Fulson, to "Gatemouth" Brown & Lightin' Hopkins, to Albert
Collins & Stevie Ray & Jimmy Vaughan.) Copeland's playing and
song-writing skills continue to stretch and improve.
His most recent album is on Verve and it's one of the most unusual and
ambitious recordings the blues has ever produced. Cut last year, "Jungle
Swing," combines Copeland's interest in African music with his solid
American roots. Over a decade and a-half ago, Copeland made two separate
State Department-sponsored tours of 10-African nations and became quite
fond of the people and captivated by the music he heard there. The
recording captures those influences.
"My dad was a blues singer and I was born listening to the blues. I
learned to play when I was in my teens. My greatest hero on a guitar was
T-Bone Walker...very colorful but not too flashy. He put 'em together,
singing and the guitar...he made 'em work together. I liked that. That
was a great combination."
Johnny currently lives in Northern New Jersey, and he hopes to be
recording again by summer. In getting Copeland to talk about his style,
he energetically comments, "Hey! I'm Johnny Copeland. Texas blues is my
thing. I learned my blues from all the greats, like T-Bone Walker,
Gatemouth Brown, even Sonny Boy Williamson, and Lowell Fulson...all these
guys like that. That's who I listened to. Most people you say 'blues,'
they say 'Delta blues' which is a more guttier blues. I do the swing and
the happy blues. Let everybody know we're still workin', we're still
puttin' out and preachin' Texas Blues!"
May you be preaching long into the new millennium, Johnny.
Although Johnny Copeland had basic insurance, there are still mounting
medical costs. We who are his fans and friends in the blues community now
have the happy responsibility and honor to take care of one of our
Donations may be made to:
The Johnny Copeland Heart Fund
and sent to Copeland's manager:
Ms. Holly Bullamore,
P.O. Box 6775
Champaign, IL 61826-6775.
"Down these mean streets, a man must go."
- Raymond Chandler -
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