Blues Access Spring 2000
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Blues Foundation gives Keeping the Blues Alive 2000 awards

The Blues Foundation’s 2000 Keeping the Blues Alive (KBA) Awards, honoring 17 individuals and organizations that have contributed to the growth and vitality of the blues industry, were presented at a January 22nd ceremony in Memphis, Tennessee, as a highlight of the BluesFirst Convention weekend.

The recipients include Northwest Airlines, Blues Sponsor of the Year; Wichita Blues Society, Blues Organization; Bourbon Street Blues & Boogie Bar (Nashville), Blues Club; Bull Durham Blues Festival, Blues Promoter; Tom Gold, Blues Agent; 305 Spin, Achievement in Blues on the Internet; Borders Books and Music, Blues Retail; "Nick and Bayou" (James Nixon and Shannon Williford), Education; Jonny Meister, WXPN-FM, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Public Radio; Marlee Walker, Commercial Radio; Maxwell Street Historical Preservation Coalition, Chicago, Historical Preservation; Kraft Food Ingredients, Advertising; Les Blank, Flower Films, Visual Broadcast — Film, Television & Video; Jeff Dunas, Photography; Bill Dahl, Journalism; Juke Blues Magazine, Print Media; and BLUES ACCESS columnist Adam Gussow, Achievement in Literature for his book Mister Satan’s Apprentice.

For more information, visit the Blues Foundation’s informative website at

Flerlage blues photos published by ECW Press

Scott Barretta reports: When Raeburn Flerlage was asked to take a picture of Memphis Slim in 1959, he began a career that would produce some of the most fascinating and important photos ever taken of blues musicians. By shooting concert performances, studio sessions, interviews, and club shows, he became a fixture on the Chicago blues scene during the 1960s and early ’70s and captured some of America’s greatest blues artists at the pinnacle of their careers: Muddy Waters, Little Walter, Howlin’ Wolf, Otis Spann, James Cotton, John Lee Hooker, Son House and many more. Now Raeburn’s greatest photos, reproduced in a beautiful format, are available in book form as Chicago Blues: As Seen from the Inside. From Howlin’ Wolf performing at the legendary Pepper’s lounge to Otis Spann and James Cotton playing in Muddy Waters’ basement, these pictures bring to life one of the most incredible periods in American musical history and will make you feel like you’re right there. For more information, check out the ECW Press website at (Ray’s work has been featured numerous times in BLUES ACCESS, most recently with his spread on Howlin’ Wolf in issue #39.)

Cosimo Matassa’s New Orleans studio awarded landmark status

New Orleans and Louisiana honored the birthplace of rhythm & blues and rock’n’roll and the fathers of the music December 10th when Cosimo Matassa’s J&M recording studio at 838–840 North Rampart Street Quarter (in the building now housing Hula Mae’s Tropic Wash laundromat) was officially designated as an historic site on the 50th anniversary of the first recording session there by Antoine "Fats" Domino and Dave Bartholomew on December 10th, 1949. The official landmark plaque now honoring the site reads:

First Recording Studio Of Cosimo Matassa

Built Circa 1835 With Galleries Likely Added In The 1850s

In 1944, J&M Amusements Acquired The Building, And Cosimo Matassa Soon Opened J&M Recording Studio

Oscar "Papa" Celestin, Danny Barker, and the Dukes Of Dixieland recorded jazz here

The "New Orleans Sound" developed from pioneering rhythm & blues and rock & roll recordings made here between 1947 and 1956 by Paul Gayten, Annie Laurie, Roy Brown, Professor Longhair, Dave Bartholomew, Fats Domino, Guitar Slim, Shirley & Lee, Lloyd Price, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, Ray Charles and others.

Matassa also made historic recordings on Rampart Street and at later studios on Governor Nicholls Street and Camp Street ("Jazz City") with Sam Cooke, Huey "Piano" Smith, Clarence "Frogman" Henry, the Spiders, Earl King, Tommy Ridgley, Johnny Adams, Frankie Ford, Irma Thomas, Chris Kenner, Dr. John, Allen Toussaint, Art and Aaron Neville, Ernie K-Doe, Lee Dorsey, the Meters and the Neville Brothers. Cosimo now operates a neighborhood grocery store, Matassa’s, at the corner of St. Philip and Dauphine in the French Quarter.

Matassa, Domino and Bartholomew were joined by Toussaint, K-Doe, Frankie Ford, Bernie Cyrus and Steve Picou of the Louisiana Music Commission and many other musicians and old friends for the celebration. Rick Coleman, author of a forthcoming biography of Fats Domino, and Jerry Brock of the Louisiana Music Factory, a popular Decatur Street record shop, provided the motive force that resulted in the building’s landmark designation.

Ernie 2K-Doe

Speaking of K-Doe, New Orleans Times-Picayune columnist Chris Rose checks in: "Last year I reported that cosmic soulman Ernie K-Doe had changed his name to Emperor of the World. Well, the man who stretched the catchy 1960 No. 1 hit single ‘Mother in Law’ into a 40-year career has done it again. As of January 1, he is now officially known as Ernie 2K-Doe. The Emperor of the Next Millennium (that’s also part of his new name) celebrated the name change with a New Year’s Eve performance at his Mother-in-Law Lounge at 1500 N. Claiborne Avenue.

Dr. Ray Charles honored by Wilberforce University

Michael Gourrier, "Dr. Jazz" at WWOZ in New Orleans, reports that Ray Charles has been presented with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree by Wilberforce University, a private, historically black university with 760 students located 15 miles east of Dayton, Ohio. "It is so wonderful," Charles told the Associated Press, "and what’s beautiful about it is I’m in good health and I can appreciate it, I can enjoy it. A lot of times when you get things, they either give it to you when you’re dead or when you’re so sick you don’t know you’ve got it. But this is marvelous."

B.B. King talks at the National Museum of Natural History

One of America’s most potent forces of nature touched down in our nation’s capitol when National Endowment for the Humanities Chairman Bill Ferris hosted "Blues Past and Future: A Conversation with B.B. King" at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History January 4th as part of America’s Millennium on the Mall, sponsored by the White House Millennium Council, the Smithsonian Institution, and other government agencies.

Rock & Roll Hall of Fame celebrates Johnnie Johnson

Julie Doppelt reports: The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame celebrated "Johnnie Johnson Days" November 29–December 1, 1999, in honor of the legendary St. Louis pianist, who was present at all events. Johnson was accompanied by Travis Fitzpatrick, author of Father of Rock & Roll: The Story of "Johnnie B. Goode" Johnson, who has himself been nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in the category of "Distinguished biography by an American author."

The celebration included a VIP reception, visits to local universities and hospitals, question and answer sessions, a book signing and a grand finale featuring Johnson and his band in performance at the Hall of Fame. The Cleveland festivities capped a year of extraordinary happenings for the pianist, who was recognized by the city of St. Louis with a week-long 75th birthday celebration in July and honored by Congress for his Lifetime Achievement in American Music in September.

NARAS names John Lee Hooker lifetime achievement honoree

Blues giant John Lee Hooker was feted in February by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS), joining fellow music legends Willie Nelson, Woody Guthrie and Harry Belafonte as recipients of the organization’s Lifetime Achievement award.

FEMMUSIC prints first annual jazz/blues issue

FEMMUSIC, the monthly online magazine focusing on emerging women in music, published its first annual jazz/blues issue in February, featuring interviews with Marcia Ball, Shemekia Copeland, Debbie Davies and Cindy Bullens and the premiere of FEMBOOKS, a new section focusing on women in literature of every genre. FEMMUSIC is located at

Blues Tradition conference at Penn State June 29–July 2

The Department of African and African American Studies and the Institute

for the Arts and Humanistic Studies at Pennsylvania State University are soliciting proposals from all disciplines for a conference on The Blues Tradition:

Memory, Criticism and Pedagogy to be held June 29–July 2. The conference will bring together blues performers, scholars, educators, critics and audiences for a series of exchanges on the meaning and future of the musical and intellectual tradition called the blues. Papers and performance abstracts concerning The Blues as Individual and Collective History; Distinctive Regional Traditions; The Blues Aesthetic in Literature, Art and Film; Integrating the Blues into the Secondary and College Curriculum; The Blues as Social Theory; Audience Dynamics; African American Studies and the Future of Blues Studies; African American Women and the Blues Tradition; and The Blues as a Global Culture: Crossing Ethnic, Class and National Boundaries, among others, are requested. Featured speakers include Dr. David Evans and poet Sterling Plumpp.

Legendary sidemen inducted into Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

Legendary New Orleans drummer Earl Palmer, Motown bassist James Jamerson, Texas saxophonist King Curtis, Memphis guitarist Scotty Moore and top Los Angeles studio drummer Hal Blaine were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s brand-new Sideman category at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City March 6th. The five accompanists of choice to the top artists in blues, jazz, R&B, soul and pop music played on thousands of recordings during the second half of the 20th century, including many of the best records ever made by humans.

©2000 Blues Access, Boulder, Colorado, USA