Willie Kent - Too Hurt To Cry
  • 01 Too Hurt To Cry
  • 02 Going Down The Road
  • 03 A Man And The Blues
  • 04 Willie Mae
  • 05 Blues Train
  • 06 Just Sitting Here Thinking
  • 07 Good Man Feeling Bad
  • 08 This Thing Called Love
  • 09 911
  • 10 In Case We Both Are Wrong
  • 11 Night Time Is The Right Time
  • 12 Countdown
  • 13 All Nite Long
  • 01 Too Hurt To Cry
    Genre: Blues
    MP3 (03:51) [8.81 MB]
  • 02 Going Down The Road
    Genre: Blues
    MP3 (04:24) [10.07 MB]
  • 03 A Man And The Blues
    Genre: Blues
    MP3 (07:42) [17.64 MB]
  • 04 Willie Mae
    Genre: Blues
    MP3 (03:15) [7.45 MB]
  • 05 Blues Train
    Genre: Blues
    MP3 (04:16) [9.78 MB]
  • 06 Just Sitting Here Thinking
    Genre: Blues
    MP3 (04:50) [11.06 MB]
  • 07 Good Man Feeling Bad
    Genre: Blues
    MP3 (04:43) [10.81 MB]
  • 08 This Thing Called Love
    Genre: Blues
    MP3 (03:25) [7.81 MB]
  • 09 911
    Genre: Blues
    MP3 (06:22) [14.56 MB]
  • 10 In Case We Both Are Wrong
    Genre: Blues
    MP3 (04:39) [10.66 MB]
  • 11 Night Time Is The Right Time
    Genre: Blues
    MP3 (05:09) [11.78 MB]
  • 12 Countdown
    Genre: Blues
    MP3 (04:42) [10.75 MB]
  • 13 All Nite Long
    Genre: Blues
    MP3 (04:15) [9.72 MB]
radio promo contact: Kevin Johnson

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Willie Kent – Too Hurt To Cry
Delmark DE 667

In Willie Kent’s music there is depth and there is soulful originality, but above all we believe Willie when he sings the blues; the blues are in his blood and the marrow of his bones. From a boogie thing to the wild thing, the tunes on this disc are sure to help you do your thing!

1 Too Hurt To Cry 3:46
2 Going Down The Road 4:19
3 Man And The Blues 7:38
4 Willie Mae 3:11
5 Blues Train 4:12
6 Just Sitting Here Thinking 4:45
7 Good Man Feeling Bad 4:39
8 This Thing Called Love 3:20
9 911 6:17
10 In Case We Both Are Wrong 4:35
11 Night Time Is The Right Time 5:04
12 Countdown 4:37
13 All Nite Long 4:14

all songs written by Willie Kent except for the following:
3) Buddy Guy
4) and 5) Bob Jones
9) Sterling Plumpp
11) Roosevelt Sykes

Willie Kent - vocals, bass
Jacob Dawson - guitar (left)
Willie "Toothpick" Davis - guitar (right)
Kenny Barker - piano, organ
Tim Taylor - drums

with special guests:
Billy Branch - harmonica (3, 5, 7, 9, 10, 12)
Johnny B. Moore - guitar (5, 9)

Malachi Thompson - trumpet, horn arrangements
(1, 3, 5, 7, 8, 11)
Sonny Seals - tenor sax (1, 3, 5, 7, 8, 11)
Steve Berry - trombone (1, 3, 5, 7, 8, 11)

producer - Bob Koester
engineer - Paul Serrano

"I used to want to play the guitar. I used to come home at night and there was an old man who lived across the field from us called DeWitt. Dewitt would come on Saturday night walkin'. Seem like it was late at night, but it wasn't but 9 or 10 o'clock, but in the country that's late because everything is quiet, the moon shining. He'd come down the road and have his whiskey in his pocket. He would walk awhile and he would sit down on the side of the road and he would play his guitar. And I would hear him. He'd make it to the house and sit on the porch and play his guitar and maybe take a hit out of his old bottle. I use to listen to him play that thing and it would sound so good to me. I would help him; he would send me out to get his cows or something and he would let me hold the guitar, and he would show me this or that. I always wanted to play that thing."

Willie Kent's lifelong love for the blues began when he was a child. Born in Inverness, Mississippi, February 24, 1936, he heard the blues over the radio. He had the opportunity to see Howlin' Wolf, Raymond Hill, and Ike Turner perform.

After Kent came to Chicago, he went to the taverns to hear the blues. He met a cousin of Elmore James on the job, and went to Sylvio's to hear him play. While working days and practicing nights he became proficient at the blues. He started playing bass when one of his band members came late or didn't show up at all. Kent worked around the West Side for years with his own band and others, doing short stints with Little Walter, Muddy Waters, and Junior Parker. "I was scared to death. I had seen Little Walter a lot of times and talked to him, but I had never played with him. I had never played with anybody like him, not of his standard." He headed up a house band at a West Side tavern called Ma Bea's. Fenton Robinson, Hubert Sumlin, Eddie Clearwater, and Jimmy Johnson all worked along with him there.

It wasn't until he had a triple bypass in 1987 that he gave up his day job as a truck driver and started playing music full time. The concentration on his music has begun to pay rich dividends.

Willie Kent is a thoughtful and introspective man. His years as a sideman left him with a real hunger to succeed as a bluesman. Music is more important to him than anything else in his life. He is loyal to his band members and even to his old beat-up bass which he cherishes because he likes its sound. He is coming onto his own at a time when traditional blues are dying all too fast, and few have the commitment to the real deep blues. There is a depth in Willie Kent and very soulful originality.

Above all we believe Willie Kent when he sings the blues. He draws on past pain, whether it is the pain of not knowing his father, "I used to want a father so bad. If I could have ordered one out of a book, I would have." Or the pain of being very dark in a culture more conscious of color than humanity. Or the brutal pain of being unjustly sent to a county prison work farm at the age of 13. "I had 18 months of hard labor. I was a kid when I went in. When I came out at 14, I was just as grown as I am now, mind-wise. Strength-wise I was probably a better man. I learned a lot from being there. Why I can tell people so much is because I've seen so much. I've been grown forever. The blues for me is what it has always been: it's a mainly a way of life. So many things have happened to me in the course of gettin' the age I am now, it is the blues. It's kind of like goin' to church, I fell just as good doin' what I'm doin'. I don't care how much I've got on my mind; when I'm workin' I ain't got no problems. I'm happy."

Kent knows the blues. The blues are some part of his blood and the marrow of his bones. He knows too the sweet joy of release in offering up all he is and all he has to his audience. His audience is his church and like the wily preacher, Willie Kent know the power of the catharsis, the calling out of the universal emotions. Facing the pain and staring it down and finding peace, he continues to sing and play the blues.

One of Kent's strengths is the way his band works as an ensemble. Willie Davis and Jake Dawson share the guitar chores, and Tim Taylor plays drums. Because he plays bass, Kent downs not have the need to stand out from the band. He gives his band members plenty of room to stretch out. Kenny Barker is a superb accompanist on piano and organ. Added to his working band for this CD are horns arranged by Delmark jazz recording artist/leader Malachi Thompson on trumpet, and including Sonny Seals on tenor sax and Steve Berry on trombone. The sweet sounding harp of Billy Branch adds the final seasoning to this robust blues stew. From a boogie thing to the wild thing, there will be something on this disc to help you do your thing.

7 of the tunes are Willie Kent originals. One of them, the title cut on this CD, TOO HURT TO CRY, is sung by Kent as if water were standing in his eyes and an unknown fist gripping his heart. BLUES TRAIN, by Chicago songwriter Bob Jones moves along with the conductor encouraging people to ride not by buying a ticket, buy by showing their heartache and pain. Guest guitarist Johnny B. Moore is powerful and in great form on this tune (replacing Davis), as he is on Sterling Plumpp's 911 (replacing Dawson). Kent's rendition of Buddy Guy's A MAN AND THE BLUES is one of the most poignant and beautiful songs in all blues. Billy Branch blows some lovely harmonica on this cut, and Willi Kent sings as though he is holding his naked soul in his hand, pleading with us to believe in him and his blues.

Liner notes by Lois Ulrey, MAGIC BLUES


Willie Kent biography from his website
Chicago Blues, Delta Soul

Listen to the music: when he sings, Willie Kent’s voice blazes out from the heart of the blues. Below the singing, you hear his bass guitar, flawless and rich. Between these two runs the music, a deep, honest blues that flowed from rural Mississippi to urban Chicago and remembers everything it learned along the way.

Willie Kent was born in 1936 in the small town of Inverness, Mississippi, just a hundred miles south of the border with Tennessee, and the blues ran all through his childhood. His first experience singing came in church, where he went "all the time" with his mother and brother. "Blues and gospel come from the same place," he would say later in life. "They're both from the heart." But the blues always called to him. Dewitt Munson, a neighbor wending homeward late nights with a guitar in his hand and a bottle in his pocket, would stop a while at the Kent porch to rest, letting the young Willie hold his guitar while he told stories. Through radio station KFFA’s famous "King Biscuit Time", Willie basked in the sounds of Arthur Crudup, Sonny Boy Williamson, and especially Robert Nighthawk. By the time he was eleven, he was regularly slipping out to the Harlem Inn on Highway 61 to hear it all live: Raymond Hill, Jackie Brenston, Howlin’ Wolf, Clayton Love, Ike Turner, Little Milton.

He left home at the age of thirteen. In 1952 he arrived in Chicago, where he soon was working all day and listening to music all night. One of his co-workers was cousin to Elmore James - and Willie Kent (still underage) took to following that famous bluesman from club to club, absorbing his music. Each weekend he’d go out looking for blues, and he found it: Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, J.B. Lenoir, Johnnie Jones, Eddie "Playboy" Taylor, A.C. Reed, J.B. Hutto, and Earring George Mayweather.

His love for the music led him further and further into it. He bought himself a guitar, and in 1959 through guitarist friend Willie Hudson, linked up with the band Ralph and the Red Tops, acting as driver and manager and sometimes joining them onstage to sing. He made a deal with Hudson, letting him use the new guitar in trade for lessons on how to play it. One night’s show was decisive: the band’s bass player arrived too drunk to play, and because the band had already spent the club’s deposit, they couldn’t back out of the gig; so Willie Kent made his debut as a bass player, on the spot. He never looked back.

From that point on, his credits as a musician read like a "Who’s Who" of Chicago blues. After the Red Tops, he played bass with several bands around the city and stopped in often for Kansas City Red’s renowned "Blue Monday" parties. He was increasingly serious about his music and formed a group with guitarists Joe Harper and Joe Spells and singer Little Wolf. By 1961, he was playing bass behind Little Walter, and by the mid-60’s was sitting in with Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, and Junior Parker. Toward the end of the 60’s, he joined Arthur Stallworth and the Chicago Playboys as their bass player, worked briefly with Hip Linkchain, then played bass behind Jimmy Dawkins.

He joined Jimmy Dawkins on his 1971 European tour, but when they returned to the States, their paths diverged: Dawkins wanted to keep touring and turned over his regular gig at Ma Bea’s Lounge to Willie Kent, who wanted to stay in Chicago. For the next six years, the Ma Bea’s house band was known as Sugar Bear and the Beehives, headed by Willie Kent (the Sugar Bear himself) with guitarist Willie James Lyons and drummer Robert Plunkett. In that setting, he set the tone of the club and backed up a stellar guest list including Fenton Robinson, Hubert Sumlin, Eddie Clearwater, Jimmy Johnson, Carey Bell, Buster Benton, Johnny Littlejohn, Casey Jones, Bob Fender, Mighty Joe Young, B.B. Jones, and Jerry Wells. (For a taste of the music, check out the superb 1975 recording Ghetto – Willie Kent and Willie James Lyons live at Ma Bea’s.)

Willie Kent had played occasionally with Eddie Taylor’s blues band during the late 70’s, and in 1982 became a regular member of the band, which then included Eddie Taylor on guitar, Willie Kent on bass, Johnny B. Moore on guitar, and Larry and Tim Taylor on drums. His relationship with Eddie Taylor was both a solid friendship and a warm musical partnership (evidenced in Eddie Taylor’s fine recording Bad Boy on Wolf Records).

After the death of Eddie Taylor, Willie Kent devoted his energies to his own band, Willie Kent and the Gents, with Kent on bass and vocals, Tim Taylor on drums, and Jesse Williams and Johnny B. Moore on guitar. And the Gents endured. Over the years, the composition of the group shifted as musicians joined or moved on, but the music remained as clear, powerful and steady as the bass line that held it true: a pure Chicago West Side blues.

By the end of his life, Willie Kent was well-known and respected in the blues world, but getting there wasn’t easy. In 1989, a series of heart problems led to life-changing triple bypass surgery. As he healed, he spent time reflecting on blues music, his career, and the future. He gave up his day job and turned his full attention to music.

His discography bears witness: before 1989, there were just two recordings to his credit; in the years since, he had ten releases under his own name, recorded behind many other blues artists, and appeared in countless blues compilations.

He always thought his singing should get more recognition than it did; but his bass playing earned him many honors:

W.C. Handy Awards: Best Blues Instrumentalist, Bass
(ten times: 1995, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2005)

Critics’ Choice: Most Outstanding Blues Musician, Bass
from Living Blues magazine (1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2001)

Readers’ Choice: Album of the Year 2001
from Soul Bag magazine, France, for Comin’ Alive (Blue Chicago BC-5006)

Critics’ Choice: Album of the Year 2001
from Soul Bag magazine, France, for Comin’ Alive (Blue Chicago BC-5006)

France Blues Award: Best Blues Musician, Bass
for the years 2002, 2003

Chicago’s Album of the Year 1998
for Make Room for the Blues (Delmark DE-723)

Library of Congress’ Best Blues Recording of the Year 1991
for Ain’t It Nice (Delmark DD-653)

Willie Kent lost his battle with cancer on March 2, 2006, less than a week after his 70th birthday. His music lives on in his many recordings, and his imposing presence in the hearts of his many friends and fans.

And what is it, this music of Willie Kent?

It’s a sound emerging from the deep blues tradition, a hypnotic body-tempo rhythm drawing you into the music’s core. It’s that most human of all poetry, the Mississippi Delta 12-bar blues. It’s the balanced, clean sound of Chicago’s West Side, where each separate musician creates the ensemble, and where simple musical lines burst into labyrinths of passion. It’s a shout, a melody, a ringing, honest voice crying out love and pain.

You can dance to it, or just let it wash over you. This music touches you where it hurts, then heals you.

In short, it is the blues.

  • Members:
    Willie Kent, Billy Branch, Johnny B. Moore, Jacob Dawson, Willie Davis, Kenny Barker, Tim Taylor, Malachi Thompson, Sonny Seals, Steve Berry
  • Sounds Like:
    Chicago Blues at its best
  • Influences:
    Muddy Waters, Howlin Wolf, Ike Turner, Dewitt, Little Walter, Junior Parker, Fenton Robinson, Hubert Sumlin, Eddie Clearwater, Jimmy Johnson
  • AirPlay Direct Member Since:
  • Profile Last Updated:
    08/14/23 20:49:51

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