Tribute: Delmark’s 65th Anniversary
Delmark 856 (download, CD and LP)
Newly recorded blues celebration of Delmark’s 65th Anniversary featuring:
Jimmy Johnson, Lurrie Bell, Omar Coleman, Lil' Ed & Dave Weld, Jimmy Burns, Linsey Alexander, Corey Dennison, Demetria Taylor, Mike Wheeler, Ken Saydak, Dave Specter, Billy Flynn
This special tribute recording from 2018 features Delmark’s current roster of artists paying tribute to founder Bob Koester and artists that recorded for the label in the 1960s and 70s. Jimmy Johnson & Dave Specter pay tribute to Magic Sam. Omar Coleman pays tribute to Junior Wells. Lil’ Ed and Dave Weld pay tribute to J.B. Hutto. Corey Dennison and Gerry Hundt pay tribute to Sleepy John Estes. Jimmy Burns pays tribute to Big Joe Williams. Ken Saydak pays tribute to Roosevelt Sykes. Lurrie Bell & The Bell Dynasty pay tribute to their dad Carey Bell. Linsey Alexander and Billy Flynn pay tribute to Jimmy Dawkins. And more!
Tribute: Newly Recorded Blues Celebration Of Delmark’s 65th Anniversary
Delmark Records, a Chicago-based blues and jazz record company, is the oldest active record company still owned and operated by its founder. Bob Koester is 85 years young now and to celebrate Delmark’s 65th anniversary here’s Tribute, an album featuring blues artists who have recorded for Delmark in this century paying tribute to Bob and some of the artists that recorded for the label in the 1960s and 70s. Notes by producer Steve Wagner enclosed.
1. Omar Coleman Train I Ride 4:06 Tribute to Junior Wells
Also performed by Junior Wells on On Tap (Delmark 635)
(Amos Blakemore, Dimension Gate Music, BMI)
2. Lurrie Bell & The Bell Dynasty One Day You’re Gonna Get Lucky 3:31 Tribute to Carey Bell
Also performed by Carey Bell on Heartaches And Pain (Delmark 666) (Carey Bell)
3. Linsey Alexander & Billy Flynn All For Business 6:06 Tribute to Jimmy Dawkins
Also performed by Jimmy Dawkins on All For Business (Delmark 634) (James Dawkins, Embassy Music Corp., BMI)
4. Demetria Taylor Riverboat 4:36 Tribute to Big Time Sarah
Also performed by Big Time Sarah on A Million Of You (Delmark 750)
(Bolden/Albert King, Rico’s Phat Music/Albert King Music/Parker Music, BMI)
5. Jimmy Burns She Left Me A Mule To Ride 2:45 Tribute to Big Joe Williams
(Big Joe Williams, Tradition Music Co., BMI)
6. Lil’ Ed & Dave Weld Speak My Mind 3:52 Tribute to J.B. Hutto
Also performed by J.B. Hutto on Hawk Squat (Delmark 617)
7. Jimmy Johnson & Dave Specter Out Of Bad Luck 4:57 Tribute to Magic Sam
Also performed by Magic Sam on the various artist album Sweet Home Chicago (Delmark 618)
(Benson/Magic Sam Maghett, Conrad Music/Nayjean Publ. Co/World Int’l Publ. Co., BMI)
8. Corey Dennison & Gerry Hundt Broke And Hungry 4:35 Tribute to Sleepy John Estes and Yank Rachell
Also performed by Sleepy John Estes & Yank Rachell on Broke And Hungry (Delmark 608)
(Blind Lemon Jefferson)
9. Mike Wheeler So Many Roads 5:15 Tribute to Otis Rush
Also performed by Otis Rush on So Many Roads (Delmark 643)
(Marshall Paul, Arc Music, BMI)
10 Shirley Johnson Need Your Love So Bad 4:14 Tribute to Bonnie Lee
Also performed by Bonnie Lee on Sweetheart Of The Blues (Delmark 676)
11. Ken Saydak Boot That Thing 4:00 Tribute to Roosevelt Sykes
Also performed by Roosevelt Sykes on Gold Mine (Delmark 616)
Lil’ Ed appears through the courtesy Alligator Records
With accompaniment from:
Mike Wheeler & Billy Flynn, guitar (1,3,4,9,10)
Roosevelt Purifoy, piano, organ (1,3,4,10)
Melvin Smith, bass
Willie Hayes, drums
Hank Ford, tenor sax (1,3)
Sumito “Ariyo” Ariyoshi, piano (7)
Steve Bell, harp (2)
Tyson Bell, bass (2)
James Bell, drums (2)
Eddie Taylor Jr., guitar (2)
Produced by Steve Wagner
Assistant Producer: Dick Shurman
Album Production and Supervision: Robert G. Koester
Recorded at Riverside Studio, Chicago by Steve Wagner except 11 recorded at Dying Wasp Recording, Navajo Ranch, Colorado, and Crumbly Studio, Colorado Springs, Colorado; Ken Willson, engineer
Mixed by Steve Wagner and Dave Katzman
Cover Photography; Gregg Roberts, aka Bob Koester, Sr.
Design: Al Brandtner
Send for free catalog of jazz & blues:
Delmark Records, 773 539 5002, 4121 N. Rockwell,
Chicago, IL 60618
CP 2018 Delmark Records
Bob would sometimes refer to Delmark as the house that Junior built. Wells’ Hoodoo Man Blues (1965) is still the biggest selling album on the label and is considered one of the greatest blues albums ever recorded. Delmark is also a jazz label and has more jazz albums in its catalog than blues however it’s been the blues that has ensured Delmark continued existence. Bob Koester, 20 then but 85 years young now, started Delmark in St. Louis in 1953 recording the Windy City Six, a traditional jazz band. (Bob hates the phrase Dixieland jazz.) A transplant from Wichita, KS Bob learned the whereabouts of forgotten blues musicians from the 1920s and 30s living in St. Louis including Speckled Red and Big Joe Williams. In the case of Big Joe it may have been Joe who tracked Bob down. I remember Bob telling me Big Joe came into his record store and pulled an old plugger (flyer) out of his guitar case to prove that he was indeed the original Big Joe Williams. Bob joked Big Joe was pretty good at sniffing out a record deal. Sure enough, after Speckled Red’s The Dirty Dozens came out as Delmar 601 Big Joe was the second blues artist to have a Delmark LP.
Soon afterwards Bob moved to Chicago for a record label purchase that never happened but it led to the beginning of his retail operation Jazz Record Mart and put Delmark in the city with the most blues activity. After recording Sleepy John Estes, Curtis Jones and one more Big Joe session Hoodoo Man Blues was the first electric blues album to be recorded on Delmark. Buddy Guy was thought to be under contract to Chess so he was billed as Friendly Chap for the first 7,000 copies. Bob saw many blues artists on Chicago’s west and south side in neighborhoods white people generally did not go to. Bob became known for taking young white blues fans into these clubs. Magic Sam, J.B. Hutto, Otis Rush, Carey Bell, Jimmy Dawkins, Luther Allison, Mighty Joe Young, Robert Jr. Lockwood, Roosevelt Sykes and Jimmy Johnson all recorded for Delmark from the late 60s through the 70s, an impressive legacy.
Delmark was relatively dormant through the 1980s as Bob focused more on his retail operation. Delmark returned to the studio in the 90s but ramped it up big time in 1992 with the purchase of it’s own recording equipment. Since then the number of blues albums in the catalog went from 50 to 250. I started at Delmark in 1987 and was fortunate to be part of the growth and expansion. It enabled me to produce blues and jazz albums starting under Bob’s tutelage and to become a recording engineer under Paul Serrano’s tutelage. It was Paul (RIP) whose recording equipment Delmark purchased. He was our head engineer until 2002 when he handed me the reigns.
In 1993 we issued two 40th anniversary packages, one was jazz and one was blues. Since then there’s been anniversary albums issued every 5 years and for the 55th anniversary we also issued a live concert DVD that was videotaped at Buddy Guy’s Legends in 2008. Bob and Buddy both received awards from the Grammy organization that night commemorating the induction of Hoodoo Man Blues into the Grammy Hall of Fame. This album, Tribute, is all newly recorded performances of Delmark recording artists who have recorded for Delmark in this century paying tribute to artists that recorded for Delmark in the 1960s and 70s (with the exception of Lil’ Ed on loan to Delmark and Big Time Sarah being a latter ere Delmark artist).
As I’m writing this plans are moving forward with the big Delmark Tribute to be performed at the 2018 Chicago Blues Festival on Friday June 8 on the main stage of Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park. The free event will feature all the artists on this album and more. It’s very nice that the city is honoring Bob in this way. Other multi-artist Delmark anniversary shows will be taking place through the rest of this year including a couple in the clubs during the same week as Bluesfest.
Bob spends most of his time these days operating Bob’s Blues and Jazz Mart at 3419 W. Irving Park Road in Chicago just a mile west of Delmark House. It’s open from 10:30am to 6:30pm Monday through Saturday. It’s been a couple years now since he sold the large downtown retail operation Jazz Record Mart.
I celebrated my 30th anniversary at Delmark and recently turned 60 so I’ve spent half my life at Delmark and am honored to be part of Delmark’s legacy. Bob and his wife Sue (who also works at Delmark and has played a large role through the years) are like family to me. It’ll be a blast seeing what the future holds. And so I’ll sign off by sharing something Bob likes saying to people as they leave his store: “You be good and I’ll be as good as I can”. I think he may have gotten that from Speckled Red. Just don’t ask Bob to recite the lyrics to The Dirty Dozens!
Steve Wagner, March 2, 2018
CULTURA BLUES review
Tribute: Delmark's 65th Anniversary
September 1, 2021 José Luis García Fernández
As we know, Delmark Records , is the oldest operating independent jazz and blues record company in the United States. It was founded by Robert G. Koester in St. Louis, Missouri in 1953, originally under the name “Delmar.” In 1958, Koester and the company moved to Chicago, changing its name to its current name: Delmark. On May 1, 2018, Koester sold Delmark to Delmark Records LLC. The musicians and composers, Julia A. Miller (president and CEO) and Elbio Barilari (artistic director), are the new directors of the label. One of their first releases was the compilation album that concerns us today and is titled: Tribute: Delmark's 65th Anniversary .
The album begins with the traditional and cheerful Train I Ride performed by harmonica player and singer Omar Coleman , making an honorable version in tribute to the great Junior Wells. Carey Bell is the next star to be evoked on the record with One Day You're Gonna Get Lucky . This rough, but very well played song featured the participation of Carey's sons, Lurrie and Steve Bell on guitar and harmonica, respectively.
Next, Linsey Alexander and Billy Flynn present, All for Business , warmly and deliciously remembering Jimmy Dawkins, who was a great mentor to many bluesmen. Riverboat, is the song chosen for the well-deserved tribute that the controversial and demanding vocalist, Demetria Taylor, makes to Big Time Sarah. Jimmy Burns pays tribute to the great Big Joe Williams with Ella she Left Me a Mule to Ride , Burns is another excellent artist, completely located in the history and sound of Chicago Blues himself.
Speak My Mind , featuring Lil' Ed Williams and Dave Weld is a kind tribute to JB Hutto. Lil' Ed, nephew of Chicago's West Side scandalmonger, and his teenage best friend Dave Weld, who learned directly from Hutto, do a great job on the slide and cover in general. The 'young' 89 year old (then, 92 today), Jimmy Johnson on vocals and guitar, with the great Dave Specter also on guitar; They are in charge of paying tribute to Magic Sam with the sensational: Out of Bad Luck .
Corey Dennison on vocals and guitar, and Gerry Hundt on mandolin and harmonica, play Broke and Hungry by Sleepy John Estes, in a very well crafted version, in order to give Sleepy his corresponding distinction for this album.
The tribute to the masterful guitarist Otis Rush with So Many Roads by Mike Wheeler , is an extraordinary track by a great exponent of Chicago blues; I was able to see Wheeler's charisma and talent in June 2019, when I saw his performance at Buddy Guy's Legends in the Windy City.
Need Your Love So Bad is vocalist Shirley Johnson 's tribute to Bonnie Lee, who was known as “The Sweetheart of the Blues” and best remembered for her long working relationships with Sunnyland Slim and Willie Kent, proving to be another excellent contribution to this collection material. Ken Saydak's Boot That Thing is the good closing track, a woogie boogie tribute to the phenomenal pianist, Roosevelt Sykes. Wonderful!
The album was a great collector's item to celebrate the 65th anniversary of this historic record label with dignity. It is highly recommended for any music fan and of course more so for those of us who love blues. Many Chicago Blues artists today might not be here if it weren't for the Delmark Records label. It will always be appropriate to have a recording of this type, to pay tribute to them in an exemplary way.
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