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This month's best Blues: Kenny Wayne remembers Willie Dixon and Memphis Slim, and more

This month's Bluesology column covers Kenny "Blues Boy" Wayne resurrecting the tour that Willie Dixon and Memphis Slim played together; Diunna Greenleaf as the last of the red-hot mamas; Lew Jetton & 61 South running the hoodoo down after 30 years of dive bars and Koko Mojo doing it again for the 19th time with its "Southern Bred Louisiana Rhythm'n'Blues Rockers."
Kenny Blues Boss Wayne

     There once was a time when legends collided and coalesced on tour: in the late ‘50s on through the early ‘60s, Memphis Slim [1915-1988], the Tennessee-born singer/songwriter/pianist who moved to Paris permanently in ’62, and Willie Dixon [1915-1992], the genius bassist/composer/producer, had a little act they performed around the world together. Blues From Chicago to Paris: A Tribute To Memphis Slim and Willie Dixon (Stony Plain/True North Records), by Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne, takes its inspiration from the post-war blues scenes in both of those locales.
Canadian Wayne, 77, on the heels of his sterling 2020 CD, Go, Just Do It, has produced himself with longtime BB King bassist Russell Jackson and exquisite drummer Joey DiMarco. Stripped down to its primal essence, Wayne’s boogie-woogie piano chops and raw, real, soulful vocals transcend the tribute into one of the best trio projects of the year filled with 17 songs by the two late legends.

Kenny "Blues Boss" Wayne courtesy Marc Pucci

Kenny "Blues Boss" Wayne courtesy Marc Pucci

Diunna Greenleaf

     One listen to the almighty voice of Houston’s Diunna Greenleaf and you’ll believe her when she says I Ain’t Playin’ (Little Village Foundation). Her last album, Trying To Hold On, was 11 years ago. Enter co-producer Kid Andersen in his hot spot Greaseland Studio in San Jose CA where magic happens. Di wrote four but it’s the oh-so-discreet picks from the dustbin of history where she soars. Long John Hunter’s 1997 “I Don’t Care,” Johnny Copeland’s 1999 “Let Me Cry,” Joe Medwick’s 1969 “Damned If I Do,” gospel classic “I Know I Been Changed,” Vince Gill’s 1989 “When I Call Your Name,” Koko Taylor’s 1981 “Never Trust A Man” and Nina Simone’s 1967 “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free” are the highlights but there’s so much more! Her voice is a clarion call to sit up, shut up, and take notice.

Southern Bred 19 You Better Believe It

     How could you lose with the stuff they use? Koko Mojo Records has done it again with the release of Southern Bred: Louisiana & New Orleans R&B Rockers: You Better Believe It Volume #19. Kicking off with The Fat Man named Domino on one of his lesser known gems (“Ain’t That Just Like A Woman”) and ending with the unknown Tal Miller’s “B-A-B-Y,” the 28 tracks include Cookie & The Cupcakes and Papoose Nelson doing what they do best: laying down that sweet NOLA groove.

Lew Jetton

     With a cast of 13, Deja Hoodoo (Endless Blues Records), by Lew Jetton & 61 South, compiles 16 tracks from Lew’s four albums in 30 years of playing dive bars, juke joints, honky-tonks, tattoo conventions, biker rallies and festivals. Lew wrote and produced it all in Kentucky, then had it remastered in Tennessee with help from Wes Henley of the Carl Perkins band. Musicians include Bob Lohr of one of Chuck Berry’s many bands, harmonicat JD Wilkes and guitarist Alonzo Pennington (the multi-instrumentalist, second generation real deal). Guitarist/Vocalist Lew runs the Hoodoo down with everything from Southern Rock, Blues, Soul, Gospel and Humor on songs like “Waffle House Woman,” “Homegrown Tomato,” “I Been Cheated,” “Move On, Yvonne,” “Tattoo Blues,” “Who’s Texting You,” “Drinking Again” and the closing “Will I Go To Hell.” 

  

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