Thursday, July 5, 2007

L.C. Ulmer

The Laurel Leader Call writes about L.C. Ulmer's recent gigs:

Imagine the youngest of 14 children, the son of a Stringer sharecropper, playing his blues music to crowds of thousands in Italy and Switzerland. That’s a long way for someone who came up the hard way, cutting crossties and timber, building a railroad across Lake Ponchartrain and working at sawmills, all before he was 15 years old. L.C. Ulmer returned to his home in the Currie settlement near Ellisville Wednesday night following a week-long tour of blues festivals in the two countries Thursday night.

“It was a reaction I never seen before,” Ulmer said. “They were hollering, dancing. There were other bands there, but most of them left after they heard the blues. I was on the high stage, started playing at 6:30 that night. It was jam-packed and they were hollering and cheering me on. They wanted to hear the blues. They gave me the thumbs up, and I gave them the thumbs up back. I couldn’t speak their language, but when I did that, it was like I was communicating with them. That and singing the blues. I was supposed to only play for 30 minutes, but the next group saw how much the crowd liked my music, and I played til almost 8.”

He played five nights of blues festivals in Switzerland and at the Roots and Boues Festival in Parma, Italy. He toured with the Taylor Grocery Band of Oxford. Justin Showah of the band is Ulmer’s manager....

After playing for nearly 70 years (he’ll be 79 in late August), he is finally being recognized for his talent as a blues singer and writer. He performs only songs he has written. “I don’t want to mock nobody,” he said....With no gigs currently set, Ulmer is enjoying being back in the home he bought in 1983, but only moved to five years ago. He plans to put some songs on CD along with Chase Holifield this summer at a recording studio in Ellisville.

Thursday News Roundup

Jerry Lee Lewis - Hall of Fame Magazine writes on "The Life and Times of Jerry Lee Lewis: The Killer Rocks On."

It's possible that Jerry Lee Lewis – of the Ferriday, Louisiana Lewis clan – is pound for pound the greatest rocker ever to stomp a stage in any generation since that subversive music commenced. It is likely – and God bless Hank Williams – that The Killer is the best country singer ever to moan the blues, sing of done-wrong love, wives waving good bye, or forlorn saloons. Such a personage as Leonard Bernstein, a keyboard man of some repute, considered Jerry Lee one of the finest piano players this country ever produced. In fact, perch a parrot on his '88' and you've got the single greatest whore house professor the world has ever known. Not houses like Madame Claude's, the pride of Paris, but the scarlet houses of Natchez, Baton Rouge, and Memphis attended by men in ruffled cuff shirts and women with color on their eyes and cheeks. These rough-edged lives would have been his concert halls had The Killer gone that route. Jerry Lee Lewis is indeed a son of the South, the deepest South where life moves at the speed of the Big River as it sings its love song to the Gulf of Mexico.

Jerry Lee's first cousin is The Reverend Swaggert, a preacher known to pound both the Bible and the ladies of those sultry, mysterious southern evenings with equal fervor. Another cousin, Mickey Gilley, a fair country singer himself, described his outrageous relative this way: "Killer? You're talking about a man who puts away a fifth of tequila in the morning just to straighten out."....

When he is done with the road, Jerry Lee Lewis will go home and put his boots up at his Mississippi farm. He lives there with his daughter Phoebe and the many dogs roaming the place. It's a quiet life. The house is less than an hour from Memphis, which keeps him close to his business and not too far from the casinos. Even closer is the Mississippi River. In their own way both Jerry Lee and the Mississippi are emblematic of the south, eternal and undefeated. The wind is like a hymn through the juniper trees along the banks, providing accompaniment to the green and brown rolling river of history, as it pours into the Gulf which merges with the Atlantic which turns The Cape of Good Hope to join with all the oceans of time in their embrace of the world. And the Earth turns. And the sun rises and sets and rises again. And The Killer rocks on. (read the full story here)

More updates...

Harp Magazine: Looting the Bins with the North Mississippi Allstars' Luther Dickinson

AP: Hard Rock Biloxi plans its opening day for the second time

Scott Barrett/Clarion Ledger: Duck Hill's Grassroots Blues Fest features all-ages lineup

Willie Dixon

From the Vicksburg Post:

The debut of a traveling Smithsonian exhibit brought out at least 700 people to dine and dance in Vicksburg Thursday, with multiple events centered on native bluesman Willie Dixon.

Crowds dodged showers and poured into venues to honor “the poet laureate of the blues,” who would have celebrated his 92nd birthday Sunday.

It was a big start to a big week, with almost daily events leading up to and following the Fourth of July.

An evening jam session, bluegrass pickin' and gospel concert at the Southern Cultural Heritage Center launched the Smithsonian's New Harmonies: Celebrating American Roots Music displays that will be free and open at the center for six weeks. The director, Bess Averett, said by 7:30, with an hour and half left and the crowd growing, at least 700 people had filled the former Catholic school campus downtown.

Averett said she was overwhelmed. “We are just so excited that Vicksburg decided to come out to support roots music,” she said.

“Willie Dixon Day,” is what Vicksburg Riverfront Mural Project chairman Nellie Caldwell termed the day of events, which began at 3 when about 40 people endured the heat and gathered along Willie Dixon Way to view the newly installed blues trail marker for the legendary singer, songwriter and bassist.... (read the full story here)

BB King

BB King is preparing a new album, recording this month to be released in early 2008. T-Bone Burnett is producing the Geffen studio album. This article includes a quote from King about doing a partner album: "People keep asking when I'm going to do something else with Eric Clapton or U2. But I can still do things by myself. This time, I've decided I don't want to do anything with partners for a while."

The AP reports on his homecoming this year to Indianola and his summer plans including a 16-city blues festival tour. This piece is also a good update on BB - festivals, museums, honors, etc.
And from the Muskegon Chronicle, "In the king's own words, the thrill's not gone. Nowhere near. A lesser musician -- say, a mere commoner -- might expect it at least to have dissipated a little, after six solid decades of playing the blues. But B.B. King -- whose long reign as king of the blues makes any of the world's other monarchs a mere flash in the pan by comparison -- isn't about to step down from his throne." (read the rest of it here)