Coming Up At Henry’s Botanical Blueshouse

Since we launched Henry’s Botanical Blueshouse at the start of the month, we’ve had such a good time listening to down home blues in the sunshine each Sunday afternoon that it seemed like a good idea to extend it right across the summer! From 2pm each Sunday in August, head down to Birmingham Botanical Gardens to catch the following Henry’s favourites getting their mojo working down on the bandstand: August 2nd: David Moore Blues BandAugust 9th: Big Jim & The Alabama Boogie BoysAugust 16th: Chickenbone John & Harmonica DaveAugust 23rd: The 58s Blues BandAugust 30th: C-Jam Getting in won’t cost any more than the Garden’s usual £6.75 admission price plus booking fees, though to keep the gardens at a safe capacity, advance booking online is essential. Tickets are already on sale for the 2nd and 9th August, so don’t delay: 
 Book Here  
 If you don’t believe us that blues on a Sunday afternoon can be just as rioutous as a Tuesday night at The Bull’s Head, then check out the performance that the Shufflepack gave on Sunday (with added peacock): 
 Click here to watch  
RIP Peter Green
 Peter Green, blues singer, guitarist and songwriter, was born in October 1946 in Bethnal Green, died at his home on Canvey Island on Sunday. In between, he enjoyed a meteoric rise to fame that took him way beyond the blues world, and onto the record sales charts internationally, before a level of chaos entered his life that would have destroyed a lunar mission. At 15, Green was playing with local bands when, five years later, John Mayall asked him to dep with The Bluesbreakers to cover for Eric Clapton’s four-gig absence, which became Peter’s regular gig in July 1966 when Clapton walked. He featured on the album A Hard Road, recorded that year, and a year later quit Mayall to form his own band, taking with him Bluesbreakers drummer Mick Fleetwood. Originally called Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac featuring Jeremy Spencer, they signed to Mike Vernon’s Blue Horizon Records where their first album, eponymously titled, stayed on the British charts for more than a year. More hit albums and singles followed, notably Blues Jam in Chicago, recorded in The Chess Studio with Otis Spann, Willie Dixon, Buddy Guy, Big Walter Horton and JT Brown.  By 1970 Peter’s personal problems began to interfere with his career. He left Fleetwood Mac, obviously on friendly terms as he continued to occasionally guest with the band. He remained in demand, recorded and toured, and formed the Peter Green Splinter Group in 1997 with Cozy Powell – releasing nine albums by 2004. Massively influential, internationally respected – BB King praised his “sweet tone” – we can only imagine what Peter Green could have acheived if he hadn’t been beset by those private problems. You can hear his continuing influence in this recording by Henry’s stalwarts Dirk Diggler’s Blues Revue of his 1968 classic, Stop Messin’ Around. 
Chicago Style
 This week The Nitecrawlers remember a pivotal figure from the early Chicago scene
To tell you the truth, Tampa Red was never really really one of the Nitecrawlers favourite bluesmen, but the influence he and his wife held over an emerging Chicago blues scene is far too important not to get a mention. Tampa Red was born Hudson Woodbridge down in Georgia and adopted the name Tampa Red when he arrived in Chicago as an adept bottleneck guitar player who played the National guitar in a light and loose style. He became something of a blues star in the late twenties featuring on around three hundred records, many of them in a style veering towards ragtime and often bawdy and risqué with self-explicit titles like “Tight Like That”, “She Wants To Sell My Monkey”, “I Want To Play With Your Poodle” and ‘What’s That Tastes Like Gravy”. Aided by his astute wife and business manager, Frances, over a period of fifteen years Tampa carefully established himself as the go to session man for most of the early Chicago recordings. The sharp and incisive Frances also ensured that Tampa actually accumulated a little money out of music business which allowed them to buy a house on Chicago’s South State Street that quickly became a centre for the blues community, a haven for musicians, and lodgings for the flow of musicians that arrived from the Delta. As Blind John Davis recalled it “Tampa’s house ran all the way back from the front to the alley, he had a big rehearsal room and two rooms for artists that came from out of town to record. Melrose (the record producer) would pay him for the lodgings and Mrs Tampa would cook for them.” For the rural bluesman arriving at Chicago’s Illinois Central railway station the sheer speed of the city came as a shock, the lights and the smells were an overwhelming experience and even crossing the busy street was a life threatening experience. “I got off the train and it looked like the fastest place on earth” remembered Muddy Waters, “it felt like I’d entered a foreign country”. So a friendly shelter like the Tampa household was a godsend, although as the Chicago clubs were tied up tight by the small clique of artists that centred around Tampa Red’s house, including Tampa, Big Bill Broonzy, John Lee Sonny Boy, Memphis Minnie, Robert Nighthawk, and Big Maceo, these new blues musicians in from the South had to make do with house parties and passing the hat in the street as their only way of making a buck. Arthur Crudup recalled singing in the streets and sleeping in a box under a 39th Street rail bridge while he tried to make it in Chicago. But the Second World War changed everything and a harder electric blues emerged as the economic boom of wartime made it feasible for the new bluesmen to afford electric instruments and cars to transport them around. In the face of these new electric noises and independent record labels, even in the clubs Tampa Red and the Chicago elite were suddenly old hat, and to make matters worse Tampa’s wife had died suddenly. “His wife was mother and God to him” said Sunnyland Slim, and her death had a devastating effect, leading to his excessive drinking and a mental collapse. “I got sick and had a nervous breakdown” admitted Tampa, who with little desire to make a comeback lived his life out quietly in a nursing home.
For years Tampa Red had been the big wheel and an important part of the windy city blues scene but for us Nitecrawlers now was the time that the real history of Chicago blues got started as Tampa Red and his circle were drowned out by the men from down on the Delta who had pushed the noise of the city, electricity, and their sharp-edged blues, right up onto the front of the line. 
The Gospel Truth
 Gospel Oak Studio has now reopened!
Their spacious and airy control room, large live space and dedicated vocal booth means we can operate safely within government COVID 19 guidelines. Engineers have PPE, surfaces will be cleaned regularly and we have hand sanitiser in each room. To celebrate getting back behind the glass, they’re offering bands the chance to save 15% on full day bookings before the end of July with our pre payment offer. Contact them for bookings on or phone 01564 785875. We cannot wait to work with musicians to create good, down home blues again. 
 Book Your Session Today  
You can find details of all our upcoming gigs plus plenty of other cool stuff going on around the West Midlands in Ryan’s Gig Guide. Check it out – it’s free and most informative.