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Benson & Hedges Blues Public Relations

Date: 1990 (est.)
Length: 29 pages
2040567491
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Abstract

Benson & Hedges Blues public relations plan. Describes print and electronic media impressions by years from 1988- 1990. Describes factors contributing to the success of the campaign including timing, first major sponsorship of music genre, unique publicity including shelter performances, special photos and jam sessions, tie-in with charity, press kick-offs, advanced planning and lead, collaboration between event group, public relations affiliate system and national agency. Details 1991 brand plan objectives for Benson and Hedges to build brand awareness nationally and locally through blues festivals. Strategy is to have blues stories break in advance, targeting women's magazines, and in flight publications, African American target magazines (Jet, Essence), and People. Describes press conference and media activities to promote events. Describes importance of using charity spokespeople.

Fields

Target Market
African American
Strategy
Yes
Message
None
Subject
African Americans
#18526 (Event Sponsorship)
marketing
mass media
Urban Areas
advertising

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2040567491
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BENSON & HEDGES BLUES PUBLIC RELATIONS
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TOTAL NATIONAL MEDIA IMPRESSIONS BY YEAR PRINT ELECTRONIC 1988 (3 MARKETS) 9 MILLION 23 MILLION 1989 (3 MARKETS) 1990 (5 MARKETS) 15 MILLION 35 MILLION 90 MILLION 50 MILLION (HIGH FIGURE DUE TO THE MSG CONCERT)
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_ FACTORS CONTRIBUTING TO THE SUCCESS OF THE CAMPAIGN: 0 CAPITALIZING ON THE OVERALL RESURGENCE OF THE BLUES AND ITS RELATIONSHIP TO TODAY'S MUSIC. 0 TIMING AND POSITIONING BENSON & HEDGES BLUES AS THE FIRST MAJOR SPONSOR OF THIS GENRE OF MUSIC. 0 CREATING UNIQUE PUBLICITY OPPORTUNITIES INCLUDING SHELTER PERFORMANCES, SPECIAL PHOTOS AND JAM SESSIONS. 0 UTILIZING PRESS KICK-OFFS TO ADVANCE THE FESTIVALS. 0 CREATION AND DEVELOPMENT OF INFORMATIVE, WELL WRITTEN PRESS MATERIALS. 0 TIE-IN WITH CHARITY. 0 ADVANCE PLANNING FOR PLACEMENTS IN LONG-LEAD PUBLICATIONS. ~ 0 .~, 0 0 COLLABORATIVE EFFORTS OF THE EVENT GROUP, PR ur cr~ ~ AFFILIATE SYSTEM AND NATIONAL AGENCY. ~ .~
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1991 PUBLIC RELATIONS PLAN I. OBJECTIVES 0 BUILD BRAND AWARNESS NATIONALLY AND LOCALLY THROUGH POSITIVE AND SUPPORTIVE MEDIA COVERAGE OF THE 1991 BENSON & HEDGES BLUES PROGRAM. 0 MAKE BENSON & HEDGES SYNONYMOUS WITH THE BLUES AND POSITION THE BRAND AS THE LARGEST AND MOST PROMINENT SPONSOR OF THE MUSICAL GENRE. 0 INCREASE NATIONAL PROGRAM AND BRAND AWARENESS THROUGH OUT-OF-MARKET PUBLICITY.
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II. STRATEGIES 0 TARGET LONG LEAD MEDIA FOR BENSON & HEDGES BLUES STORIES TO BREAK IN ADVANCE OF SPRING AND FALL FESTIVAL DATES. EXAMPLE: NEW "WOMEN IN THE BLUES" (BARTON, BALL AND STREHLI) MEDIA: MIRABELLA, GLAMOUR, VOGUE, ELLE, ETC. ~ i i 0 ORGANIZE MEDIA DAYS WITH PROGRAM HEADLINERS IN Los ANGELES AND NEW YORK. EXAMPLE: PROFILE OF BENSON & HEDGES BLUES HEADLINER, B.B. KING MEDIA: IN FLIGHT PUBLICATIONS, JET, ESSENCE, PEOPLE 0 ENHANCE BOTH NATIONAL AND IN-MARKET MEDIA OPPORTUNITIES ASSOCIATED WITH LOS ANGELES AND NEW YORK PRESS CONFERENCE. EXAMPLE: SERVICE SPECIAL PHOTO OF HEADLINER/OTHER CELEBRITIES AT PRESS CONFERENCE IN LOS ANGELES TO NATIONAL ENTERTAINMENT PUBLICATIONS MEDIA: PEOPLE, "STAR TRACKS", US, "FACES AND PLACES", ROLLING STONE, "RANDOM NOTES"
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0 KEEP BENSON & HEDGES BLUES TOP-OF-MIND DURING THE ENTIRE NEW YORK FESTIVAL WEEK. EXAMPLE: BENSON & HEDGES BLUES CONCERTS - THE PLACE TO BE TO ENJOY THE BEST IN BLUES. PLACE CELEBRITY NEWS ITEMS WITH NEW YORK DAILY "GOSSIP" COLUMNS. MEDIA: NEW YORK TIMES "CHRONICLE", NEW YORK POST "PAGE SIX", ETC. 0 DEVELOP NEW STORY CONCEPTS THAT FURTHER ENHANCE BENSON & HEDGES BLUES' RECOGNITION AS THE BLUES PREMIERE SERIES. EXAMPLE: WHO WILL CARRY ON THE BLUES TRADITION ESTABLISHED BY LEGENDS DIXON AND HOOKER? BENSON & HEDGES BLUES PERFORMERS - JOHN CAMPBELL, BOBBY RADCLIFF, ANSON FUNDERBURGH AND Lou ANN BARTON. MEDIA: ROLLING STONE, CREEM, TIME, ESO.UIRE, ETC.
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0 UTILIZE CHARITY SPOKESPEOPLE TO SPEAK ON BEHALF OF BENSON & HEDGES BLUES. EXAMPLE: DELTA BLUES MUSEUM, LOCATED IN THE BIRTHPLACE OF THE BLUES, IS COMMITTED TO PRESERVING THE HERITAGE OF THE BLUES. SID GRAVES DISCUSSES THE MUSEUM'S HISTORY AND ITS RELATIONSHIP WITH BENSON & HEDGES BLUES. MEDIA: NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE, SPIN, ETC. 0 ENCOURAGE NATIONAL AND LOCAL NEW YORK MUSIC CRITICS TO ATTEND AND REVIEW A BROADER SPECTRUM OF BENSON & HEDGES BLUES EVENTS.
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vol. 37, no. 11-november 1990 CONTENTS FOR THE MEN'S ENTERTAINMENT MAGAZINE PLAYBOY AFTER HOURS I his Near, the annual Benson & Hecf res Blues 1esti~al, t,ith stops ut I.us Ange e., Atlanta, llallas. Chicago and he~~ 1'ork, is hc sting special e\enings featuring the %cunten of the hlues. Blues legend Irma Thomas hca<llincs the B. & Il. shmN iu Chicago t>n October 1`2 and in New lork on October 19. Thomas has a right to sing the blues. She ~cas a li-~ear-t>ld single mt>m and night- club waitress more than 30 years ago when the cfub's band first ;:alled her up to croon, launching her long career. But of all the blues classics she has since recorded-the ori,rinal 7'ime L~ on M t' Side. 11's Kuiitiiig and }'rm (;« it Hnvr .llY Husband, bul Plru.te I)uW7 ,11r«) Willr :111,ll(ni-onl~1964's Wish SomeonP Would Care broke onto the Ri/lhnrurrlcharts. ]rmicalk, the blues-based British invasion came along right after that. and "1'~e had no major records since," -I'homas told us. Is she bluer Apparentl}, only in song. "1 get great press and great gigs." grins the i41-~rar uld tiuul yucen. "I inakc a liting. and the LPs I cut f< r Re tmder have the songs I want to sing. 7t me, the blues is a st<uc of ntirn<I-it's letting VtnuJr(-Gtlgs 0111 the most honest wav you can."
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PEOPLE MAGAZINE OCTOBER 29, 1990 JOHN LEE HOOKER, WHOSE BOOGIE BLUES HOOKED A GENERATION, IS LIONIZED BY HIS ROCK ADMIRERS R eclined in his La-Z-Boy and tubing with The Flintstones, a favorite show dished up by the satellite receiver in his California backyard, John Lee Hoo cr sure doesn't look like he's got the blues. But Hooker's got'em bad. And that, of course, is good. "The blues is the only music," Hooker says with a low growl. "Everything else they's doing-rock'n' roll, pop-it all comes from there. Some- "I like the small clubs, kind of dirty. That's where I come from, that's my roots," says Hooker. thin"bout a woman. Somethin"bout a man. Somethin"bout a man and a wom- an. That's the blues. I don't try to figure it out too much though. Just is." Hooker is something of an elemental force himself. At 71, he has become the grand old man of a music tradition he in- herited growing up in the Mississippi Del- ta town of Clarksdale. Now enjoying an old-age roll, he won his first ever Grammy this year for a duet with Bonnie Raitt, one of several blues disciples who appeared on The Healer, his first LP in a decade. He rumbles through the sound track of The Hot Spot, the steamy new melodrama di- rected by Dennis Hopper. And last week he was honored at the Benson & Hedees $j,lgs festival in Manhattan by an all-star cast of boosters including Joe Cocker, Raitt, Johnny Winter, Gregg Allman and
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others who point to Hooker as the source of much of their own st`lc and substancr. Among the musicians who paid fitting tribute by raising money for a pet proj- ect-the Delta Blues Museum in Hook- er's hometown of Clarksdale-was Raitt. a friend for two decades. "John Lee has maintained his swampiness after all these years," she says. "He's never lost his prt- mal roots. He's remained as foreboding sounding and looking as you'd expect from an old bluesman. And he's got that fire in him still." "What makes blues great is its wis- dom." savs Chicago bluesmaster Willie Di\on. "And John Lee has that wisdom." "I don't pla} a lot of fanc~r guitar." Hooker savs bv wa~ of self-analvsis. "I just got this hea\ti, gQod rh~thmu vou knoa. I pla} a heck of a funk~ beat. What I do is soulful, it's the feeling." It's a feeling he disco~ered as a bo~ gro\Ong up in the Delta flatlands, a region that in the 1920s was rich notjust with cotton hut ~~ith such gritt}, itinerant bluesmen as genre giant Charle\ Patton. Their music found little acceptance in the home headed b% William Hooker. a Bap- tist minister. "You kno~k ho~~ those ' preachers are." John Lee sa~s. "The~ think tt's the de~ il's music." But Hooker. the fourth of I I children. gained a formi- dahlc alk at agc 12 ~Oen his sh3recroppcr parents split and his mother, Minnie, married Will Moore, an amateur hlues singer and guitar f+la\ er ti ho performed at local fish fries. "M~ st% Ic toda~ is ~~hat he taught me." Hooker sa\ s gratefull~ "II it %~asn't for htni. I~~ould ha~e hecnJu"t i Hooker (in 1963) "alwoys played dowre- home blues," Willie Dixon says. "He af ways seemed to have his own rfiythms." ~
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I t Hooker was the man of the hour at a Madison Square Garden party in his honor. Musidans includ- ed Bonnie Raitt, second from left. V "In my life and in my music, I didn't do nothing bad," says Hook- er, woricing hirrr self into a gentle lather. rugular unkno~t n pcrson foro cr." At 14. Hookerjoined thr Anm. "a big thing if ~ou wanted to get girls," he rc- calls. "You put on a uniform, and the\, would run to you." Stationed in Detroit. he was booted out afterjust three months when the Army learned his real age. Faced with the hard labor of sharecropping at homc, Hooker soon headed hack north. in search of stardom. "When I ran away, I was a strong-headed kid," he says. "I nev- er did have no doubts I'd make it." Hooker drifted through Memphis and . Cincinnati. where he made a name for himself as a gospel singer. before landing back in Detroit in 1943. Working as ajani- tor in a Chrysler plant by day, he pla,~ed to black audiences in local bars at night. "1 ~~as the talk of the to~~n in Detroit." Hooker sa~s. "There ~+a~n't a: much competition there as Chicago" But he was still sweeprng up at Chrysler when he was discovered b~ the oµners of the Modern Records labcl in 1948. That ~car he released his fir.t ,tn~zlc. "B oogtc Chillen." an immediate hit that brought him to the attention of \khite au- dicnces for the first timc.Whcn his "I'm in the Mood" sold an astonishing I million copies in 195 1. he hung up his broom for good. Hooker. ~~ho c;% entuall} recorded more than 100 alhutns. %kas a legend h~ the cark I96Os \khen a\c una Boh D% lan then ficcl~lin~ kollin_ Stone• an J the opened his conCert~aA,, haprk:ncd "o of- ten to the blues pcrf ormer~ Mio ~~crc rock's progenitors. Hookcr nour cnjo~ed the enormous flnanrial re%~ ards reapei] h\ his voung imitators. including such groups as the Animals. Doors. Yardbirds and Canned Heat, among a host of oth- ers. "I ~~as happy just to he out there pla}- ing." he says philosophicall~. And althouch he nc~er got rich. Hookcr didn*t go broke either. ak~ ays kept my head above water," he says. "I'm very conservative with money. So man} stars make big. big nloney and then blo~v it like thev was shooting a gun. I learned it ain't ~~hat ou make. it's ~that ~ou sa~c.- Hooker socked awas enouQh to allow him to live comfortabl~ in Vallejo. Calif., a mostl~ white to\in. Three other Ba~ Area properties he o~tins arc; "like mone~ tn the hank.- he sa\s. With an old ~ellu Cad- illac: and a ne~~ To~ota Supra in the ga- rage. he shares his modem spltt-le~el house with a nephc:~~ and tuo band mem- hers ~ti ho look after thc:tr \enerahle boss like dc tina arands ons. I Icx l.er. ~~hc has ci•_ht children and an equal number of granIchilcircn, hlanirs the road for ruining his home Itfc."It \+as hard on the ~~i% cs..7 sa~s HooI,tr. \kho di- ~orced his last \%ife. a ~oung photogra- pher, four \cars ago. "1 ~z ent through three of them and still atn*t got nr " \o%~. \wh his rcrutau ,n ~curr. hc fOrc- <0211 le~~ n,:rd\~orl, tnd ntrrc tintc in thr I.;!- Z-Bo\. "1'nt gonna retire real ,oon.- lie sais, insi~tii~~ hc ha~ rccord~:d for the lam time. "I don't knrn~ ~{hat I'm gonna do \tlth nt\self. I don't like fi~hin' orgoin' on ~a~a- tion. I just %%anna kick hack and cnjo~ lifc.- WinterI a fan since childhood. \0l be sornto hear the news. "When John Lee goes." he say s. "it's going to be the end of an era." But Hooker doesn't see it that \~ av. "As lung as there's people on this planet..: he say s, his eve glinting %~ ith the \~ isdom of years. "somebody's gonna be alone and have the blues." -Steve Dougherty, Dirk Mathison in Vallejo 2040567502
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1 ( 0 1- P~ weekly OCTOBER 15, 1990 VOL 34, NO. 15 HOOKER SINGS THE BLUES As a living relic of the hard blues, musi- cal legend JOHN LEE HOOKER, 73, is concerned about the genre's future once he's gone. "Who can come up with stuff to fill my or [fellow blues great] WIWE DIXON's shoes?" asks Hooker, who'll perform in the Benson 0 & Hedaes blues concert in New York City on Oct.16.'?here aren'ttoo many people in Willie's and my category for doing hard blues anymore. Don't get me wrong. The blues will never die. It'll become more polished and Las Ve- gas-like, the type B.B. KING, who's a great, great artist, plays. But to me the blues shouldn't be like getting a shoe shine-it should be rough, funky. I guess they feel they have to do that to make money."
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ML VIA SATELLITE THURSDAY,OCTOBER 11, 1990 SHOW ENTERTAINMENT NEWS, REVIEWS AND PERSONALffIES Bi.UES Bt1DDtES: Bonnie Raitt ught pianist C~arles Brown on her tour. An hfluence on Ray Ct~srTes, L;ttle Richard and Fats Domino, Brown's comeback album 'AII My Life' is due Monday. Suddenly, everybody's singing the blues By James T. Jones IV The new box set Robert USA TODAY Johnson - The Complete Re- The USA's coolest color now is the blues. . Ever since blues-based Bon- nie Raitt swept the Grammys (including one she shared with legendary John Lee Hooker), we've seen a barrage of blues on radio, TV, in movies and on the pop charts. Sunday, the l lth annual W.C. Handy Blues Awards in Mem- phis - ~the blues' Grammys - will feature stars including Ruth Brown and James Cotton. Blues is making a cinematic The third annual Benson splash as well. The Hot Spot, He Festival. began starring Don Johnson, opens iny~ week; Friday, it Friday with a blues soundtrack moves to New York (through featuring Hooker, Roy Rogers Oct. 21). Among the highlights: an all- star tribute to Hooker Tuesday in Madison Square Garden - the frst time a blues concert of this magnitude has been held there. Benefiting the Delta Blues Museum, its guests will lnciude Joe Cocker, Willie Dix- on and Albert Collins. Blues albums are big, too. cordings, 1930s blues, entered Billboard's pop chart this week. The new Vaughan Brothers al- bum Family Style just made its debut in the top 40; current re- leases by Robert Cray and the Jeff Healey Band have also charted high. Even the Simpsons are wail- ing. The Simpsons Sing the Blues, due Tuesday, features Rod Stewart, Chuck Berry and Healey, in a duet with Homer on Born Under a Bad Sign. and Miles Davis. Spike Lee fea- tures plenty of blues in his soundtrack for Mo' Better Bttees. Commercials are singing the blues too: Hooker touts Cheers detergent and Martel Cognac; B.B. King sings for Kentucky Fried Chicken's nuggets; and guitarist Bo Diddley appears for Nike shoes.
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Pop/Jazz Q. Where's the Blues? A. Where Isn't It? ByPETERKEEPNEWS As the third annual edition of the touring extravaganza called Benson & Hedges Blues pulls into New York City today and settles In for a 16day run, two things about the music being showcased are clear. One is that the blues is more popular than It's been In years. 77u other Is that nobody-nm even the people who play it - is quite sure where to draw the line between what Is arRl isn't the b6ues. This year's festival is the biggest ana yet. It Includes concerts totnor- row night and SurHfay night at the Beacon Theater. Six Manhattan nightcl~uba will be Jolnlng forces to stage a"Blue Monday Blues Bash" on Monday night. And there wig be a variety of free events, lnchtding noon- tlme concerts Monday through Frl- day at the Atrium In the Phllip Morrls Bullding and, for the first tlme, a blues film festival, which will nm from Iwon until midnight tomorrow at the Adsm Clayton Powell State Otflce Building in Harlem. In addition, Avery Flsher Hall will 0 ent a concert called "Dynamic s Divas" aext Frlday night, and MadlsDn Square Garden will be the King and Buddy Guy. ut he also I site of an all-star tribute Tuesday to : spent 10 years accompanying a gos-'+ the legendary singer, guitarist and songwrirter John Lee Hooker. tlhtea Everywhere "Nowadays the blues has seeped into almost all aspects of music ln thls country," s.id the gultariat Ry Cooder, who wlll bepe rforming with the guitarist David Llndley tomorrow at the Beacon Theater and with Mr. Hooker on Tuesday. "I don't know how you can separate out all these basic elements anymore. Take a look at Aerosmith: they do blues all the time, or at least Hteir version of IL But they're not really blues artists." Although Mr. Condor is a master of the quintessential blues style known as bottleneck guitar, he is hesitant to describe himself as a bluesman. "I hear things in a b4ues modallty;" he ssld. "That's not to say I'm a blues artlst - but what is a blues artist?" "People are playing bottleneck gui- tar who are pretty young; " he noted, "and maybe they don't know it's a blues concept. I don't need to say to sume heavy-metal guy who sells 10 million records, 'Hey blues runcept, right on.' He'd probably say,' Who are you?' " To the extent that the blues can be defined, Mr. Cooder sokf, it is "a handmade thing." "It's people who sit down and play a guilar or a horn for themselves; " he contlnued. "It's a personal expres- slon; that's wby it's got durability." 'Back to Muslc Muak' That sentimenl was echoed by the veteran rhythm-and-blues singer Irma Thomas, who Wlll be perform- Ing at Avery Fisher Hall next Friday along with the singers Ruth Brown, Etta James and Koko Taylor. "Audlences are going back to mu- sic muslc;" said Ms. Thomas. "I'm assuming that people arr uot ready lu ur/rpl whollV Ihl- ulll--nputernell it's more important to take chances the real bluesY But everything I play and make mistakes on stage than to and everything I sing is going to have try to sound Just like your records." the blues in il. The blues is not just a But il Ms. Thomas, ono of the lead- 12-bar, 3-chord box. I'll put a gospel In* e:ponents of the New Orleans lyric in a sDUI song; it doesn't make a school of rhythm-and-blues, apprecl- bit of difference, as long as it makes ates the renewal of interest In her me feel good." gritty, soulful kind of singing, she is While this year's event has more as uncomfortable as Mr. Cooder with than its share of stars. Mr. Hooker is being labeled a bluea artist. "To be, likely to outshine all the rest. The honest with you. I don't know what I'venerable bluesman's highly person- am," she said, "and I think that has ,' al contributions to the music will be oost me over the years. Certainly. I celebrated at Madison Square Gar- sing a lot of blues, but I sing a kR of ~ den by a diverse linetlp, including other things, too. It's a problem when Willie Dicon, Bo Difdiey, Joe Cocker, you can't be pigeonholed as a specYtic . Jsm Gregg Cotton, amo Huey Lewis and entlty In the music field, but 1 llke the g others. Hexi.bllidy of behug able to sing Just.„ RemcmberingaCrashVtMlm about anything." Asked about the ap- ' I But if Mr. Hooker is the man of the µropriateneas of her ppearing at a~ , hour. George Wein, whose Festival binlea festlvai, she repliai Why notT ,.Prod.uctions stages Benson & Hedges It'a better than not being included at i'. Blues, acknowledged that another all " ' nam Even someone wlth the impeccable e is bound to be spoken frequent- eblul'.s credentlalg of Joe Louis Walk- ly in the days ahead by audiences and performers alike: that of Stevie Ray er, the San Fnnclsco-Wsed singer ., Vaughan-The brilliant guitarist, who and guitarist who will be sharing ttm PI~ bBI with Albert Collhts Elvln Blshop , , and the Ry Cooder-Davkl Llndley tan- dem tomorrow night, renlats plgoon-:'. holhug. Mr. Walker plays stin,ging I blues guitar lines In the splrit ot B. B. ' pel singing grtmp, and he includes ~ such disparate elements as Loulslana I zydeco and Memphls-gtyte soul in his musical mhL ' "Some people," said Mr. Walker, who at the age of 40 represents the muslc's younger generation, "have i said to me, 'That other stuff is O.K., , but whly don't you play same more of Where to Find The Events The third Benson & Hedges Blues Festival will feature con- certs and other events through next Sunday at various locations around New York City. Here are the events scheduled this week- end. Festival information: 884- 2583. Taid.y IHILIP MDRRi5 aU1LDINi:, AIrLNm,120 Pxrk Avenue, al 42d Slreel. Jolnn Camp- hell, Rcousnt gult.rMl, noort Free. Taisa.rraN REACONTREATER,nroadwuy®nd]4UI Slreet Ry Coodur, A4berr Co11Ens, Elvln nlshoa and Joe Luulf Walker, g P.M. T Mk n I s w re $25. 1 n f o r m a I k m I. 917-5 g 50. MUSEUM Or AFRICAN AMERICAN H15TP . RY ANU ART3, Adarm Claylun PoweR Smle oface nW Mlmg. 163 Wes1125xh SlreelI t'unnrtu~xlsscreerningxol rure 64ues Illms irornrtng Ihc rmuslclans H n Kmg, Bessle Smnla Murldy Walera- Llgtantn' Ilupkms, Rsy Chnrles mnd W dlle Dlton, I P M.lu mMnlghl. Free. iissmdm! Ut:LTAlv, 332 t:,gh0, Avenuc, at lHh 51rcc1. D1xlr I/ummingblyds, 2 P.M. Snld out. InlUrm.nlu,n 924 :/f99. RFACUN Tfll Arr R• n,nadwny:nnl %91h \I,ml BuuLrr 1 nnd Ihc M(:'a. Juhnnle I,ma„ Floli,.l.n..a.mdm..manu-. qervuw L HrQµv. Blun Ry Cooder, left, and Irma Thomas, who will appear at the blues festival. was a leading figure In the blues revival of the late 10g0's and who had been a fixture at past Benson & Hedges Blues shows, was killed in a helicopter crash on Aug. 27 at the age of 35. "I'm sure that he will be mentioned at John Lee's concert;" Mr. Wein said, "because John Lee was a very good friend of Stevie Ray's. Stevie Ray was a very popular kid with the other blues artists; all he wanted to do was pay tribute to his inHuences." The promoter sald that there had been snme discussion of staging a tribute to Mr. Vaughan this year, but that "I don't believe, when someone d4es, in doing a tribute right away." •' We may do somelhing next year; ' he said, "when we've had a chance to plan something and it wouldn't be a question of capitalizing on his death." For the Trtle ABNoaa.do The tribute to Mr. Hooker is shap- ing up as one of the most elaborate blues concerts ever staged, but Mr. Wein emphasized that the Ill-0sy fee- tlvai Is not'ust about bigness. "The real blues atlcttRlado can start kl the morning and hear the blues all day and all night. There's something hap- pening every day at different times. A I~ot of it lsti t going to draw mass audiences, but it's important to ac- knowledge the true aflclonado." 2040567505 The Benson & Hedges Blues It4ner- ary this year has grown from three cllies to live (Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas and Now York). Clearly, this most basic of muslcal forms, which not long ago had hit lesn times, Is in good health. "All of a sudden," Mr. Cooder said, "whlte people in great quantitles have come to embrace this music, and that's what's going to save Id from obilvion- In the past, they might have wkl,'BhR^s, I can't use it' Now- adays It's, 'Blues, hey, I like It, I'm having a party, I'm smoking, I'm drinking, I'm in a n4ghtclub, I look gaod my date looks good.' They see blues as being part of their life slyle." Ll~c ~'etu jork 105hnis NEW YORK, FRIDAY, OCTOBER 12, 1990 Weekend ~n
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•NEWY.ORK- THIS MONTH IN NEW YORK Buddy Holly is alive and well on Broadway; a massive exhibit of Mexican art at the Metropolitan Museum; Benson & Hedges has Manhattan singing the blues. BY PAULETTE WEISS MIvIusic The Bens n dc Hedees $lues Festival salutes blues giant John Lee Hooker with a star-studded concert Oct. 16. All Manhattan will be singing the blues when the Benson & Hedges Blues Festival (884-BLUES) takes over the city Oct. 12 to 21. Over 20 events including concerts and films are scheduled at clubs and other venues throughout the Big Apple. Featured are such blues greats as John Lee Hooker, Irma Thomas, Bo Did- dley, Etta James, Albert Collins, Ruth Brown and many others. A highlight of the 10-day event is a special con- cen saluting legendary blues master John Lee Hooker. This all-star tribute takes place at Madison Square Gar- den on Oct. 16, and it features Gregg Allman, Willie Dixon, three members of Little Feat, Ry Cooder, James Cot- ton, Charlie Musselwhite and many others. (For details. refer to listings beginning on page 42.) r1'vo re- . a .
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~ra~rr~~mrrr J&PAA&:.rw AM f.^ ~ , . EDI?ION l~iewsda~ FRIDAY, OCP_ 12,1990 • BAANHA'I"FAN • 25 CENTS 204q5675©7
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By John Anderson STAPF WRITER LUES IN EVERY shade will be coloring New York City's musical scene over the next the 10 days, as the Benson & Hedges Blues festiv arrives orf` t s i t year. Beginning at noon today, with a free performance by Texas blues guitarist John Campbell at the Philip Morris Building (120 Park Ave.), the B&H fest will present 18 blues events, half of which are free. The centerpiece of the festival is Tuesday night's all-star tribute to John Lee Hooker, the 73-year-old Mississippi Delta-born singer / guitarist, whose boo- gie sound has provided a model for younger rock and blues-rock players• Many of them will be on hand to fete Hooker on the stage of Madison So•uare Garden. including Gregg Aliman, Huey Lewis• Mick Fleetwood• Albert Collins, James Cot- ton Charlie Musselwhite and members 1' Little Feat. Proceeds from the con- ;^ will benefit the Delta Blues Muse- .:n. in Clarksdale, Miss., Hooker's birthplace r;cn^ned by phone at his California n; recentli. Hooker• in his unmis- :r:,nole croak, said to call back 'cause us; wnke up. When he answered a nttle iater, he sounded the same; he an(l l some friends had been "up late last night messin' around." He did add, how•ever. that he was looking forward to the Garden tribute. '•It's gonna be a big thing. I'm just so proud " he said. "I don't know if I'll get to play w~th everybody; I might be so hu,c I'll get burned out." H k?r burn out? Unlikely. After all, he's recorded more than 100 albums - including last year's "The Healer," which featured Robert Cray, Santana and Bonnie Raitt• "Man, that was some aibum." he said "It was the biggest nne I had since 'Boom Boom."' Ic was part of a remarkable year for H-,ker that included performances , Stones. a Grammy for h the Rolltng I'm in the Mood" ~his duet with Raitt on "The Healer"i and a general recog- niuon of his contributions to blues mu- ;i; With the possible exception of Chi- cago blues patriarch Willie Dixon, Hooker, who was based in Detroit for much of his career, is the eldest statesman of the blues, "I know that," Hooker said, ~it;: omethtng resembling a laugh. "Long live the kir•c 5,morrow night's show at the Beacon Theater should also be a winner: Ry Cooder, performing with fellow multi-instrumentalist David Lindley, will make a rare New York appearance atop a bill that includes Albert Collins, Elvin Bishop and Joe Louis Walker. Gooder will also perform at the Hooker tri- bute. "He's the last southern country blues guy of stat- ure that we're gonna see tributed while still living," Cooder said, Willie Dixon, who also will be at the Garden show, "has been on the scene kind of in a different wav, But Hooker has a strange career, sort of three different careers. I've studied on his music since I was a kid." As early as 1978, Cooder's music has been used in film - his "Available Space" was the theme to Jack Nicholson's °Goin' South" - and over the last 14 years he's composed the scores for eight movies, in- cluding "The Long Riders," "Paris, Texas," "Cross- roads" and "Alamo Bay." His solo work has em- braced everything from Piedmont blues picking to Hawaiian music to '20s jazz and his playing is both wndely respected and widely imitated. Hooker's mu- sic, as it happens, was pivotal in the development of Cooder's. "When I was maybe twelve or thirteen, I fell in with some older guys in the L.A. folk-blues-citybilly scene," Cooder said. "Back then there were about three blues records out, unless you had a seventy- eight collection. Well, somebody turned me onto Hooker and said go down to the drugstore, where you could find cheap pressings of old masters that some rack jobbers had put out. "Anyway, here comes this really spooky, weird, The Festival's Centerpiece Is A Garden-Party Tribute to the Blues' Elder Statesman Also Playing .. . , Suxdey: The Dbae Hummingbirds, fist oeganizsd in ,92s, are one o/ the pra-amin®trt gospel groups work- k.tg today. Defta 86, 332 Ephtt Ave. "The Voice of ttte Rhythm a<td the Bkues." Bboker T and the MGs, .iofwxry Taylor, Bo Dldc~ey and the HoMnsa BrothArs p.rform at 2i* 8®acon 17m6sr, B&oedwey and 74th Sbwt. . Monday:'Biue 1AaWay Bkust Basit,": niqtrt ofbk~ss at bcal clubs: Tkts{ey 6ks at Atannys Csrwaetr, tSC TtNG Awe. Robert Ross Blues Bsnd st tl» t.ot+s Ser Roadhouse, 240 W. 52nd SL Mark P®rader Blues Barxd at Tramps, 45 W. 2Ut St Bluss Rock-n-3oui wkh Joen Osbome at D®tts 88. trrternational World BN»s Niyttt at 8,0.8.'s, 204 Varidt St. The 6lus Laws at BrofheF's 9u~B-Qvs, M W. tloustan SG w.dr»sday: Clsrerae {f3atartputh) 9rawrs, s urAqua ; peftmiertromitrSoutl'wat(andRyCoudKspckfar "best in tesC') ppys Marrey`s tnINsfh. 'ftwiulW Tt» tT{ibwn /}bma *y1lrn .nd Miec RAVisw r®ahx(rq kip" stratif and aurprLe ytesb, ttn. Sar Rosdhots+.. 1Awdsy, Oet so: "B1.oleop Rocorrts t~lpht," a sek" to at. A3aw Orfe.rw Iebel witlt Esr! ICnp, Grady O.it>as, James (Thtndsrtyni) l?avis and Bdbbyli". For dstsAs, cAM (2t7j a64-BLUES. / II dangerous-sounding music with some guy groaning and intoning and real alien-feeling. It wasn't polite and it certainly wasn't Leadbelly or anything I was used to listening to." It also wasn't something he could play on his gui- tar. "I could tell right away the guy was tuned funnY," Cooder said. "Later on I was playing my banjo, which was tuned to G, and I could see right away we were playing the same string intervals, the same harmonic thing. So I said, 'tune the guitar the same way and =ee what happens.' And that's exactly what opened that up for me." Cooder's subsequent and extensive experiments with guitar tunings have led him to various ethnic musics and playing styles as well as contributing to his distinctive sound. Tomorrow, he and Lindlev will perform with three singers - Bobby King Terry Evans and Willie Green - with whon: Cooder often records. His 12-year-old son will play percussion, Cooder added. Among the free events presented during the Benson & Hedges fest is o- morrow's daylong film festival at the Museum of African-American Historv and Arts tAdam Clavton Powell Stc,,e Office Building, 163 W , 125th St. at Seventh Avenue,. Included will be raro films featuring such artists as B. B King, Ivluddy Waters. Bessie Smith and Lightnin' Hopkin;, There wiC he c tinuous showine: from I p m, tu:tii midnight. - A1so freeisMondav's performance at the Philip Vlorris Buildirp b-, Esu,., Green John Cephas & Harmonica Phtl Wiggins. The duo, who cam• on the tre- dition of such guitar harp teams as Sonnv Terry and Brownie McGee, mine the old Piedmont style of the American Southeast and can keep an audience rapt with their instrumental virtuosit-, Another Piedmont picker is John Jackson• a Virginian who pia}•~ the mu- sic of such legends as Blind Blake and the Rev. Gary Davis, and is part of a vanishing breed of instrumentalist. Jackson will play Tuesday at noon at Philip Morris. Others giving free noon- time performances there will be pianist Roscoe Gordon and Killing Floor tWednesdayi, country bluesman Larn Johnson iThursdav, and Zora Young (next Friday,. who also appears for free Thursday night at the Studio Museum of Harlem (144 W. 125th St ~. On Sun- day, Oct. 21, the final day of the festi- val, "The Legacy of the Bluds - Swamp Blues and Zydeco" will feature Hezekiah and the Houserockers. Delton Broussard and Sons and Clarence Edwarde at the Henry Street Arts for Living Center ~466 Grand St.). While the blues is often thought of a> a man's lield - and a black man's Geld at that - there will be several artists attempting to squash such notions. One is Debbie Davies, a white 37-year-old who placs guitar with Albert Collins and the Icebreakers. "The whole thing is really changing." she said while in Ithaca on a Collins date. "Some people are going to be hip to it, and some are never going to get used to it. It says a lot for Albert that I'm playing in his band." She fronts her own group when Collins isn't tour- ing, but said she constantly learns things while play- ing with him. "It isn't even guitar licks." she said. "It's attitude, survival, being strong on stage - being able to put feeling in the playing." Davies might find additional inspiration in next Friday's show -"Dynamic Divas of the Blues," star- ring Etta James, Ruth Brown, Koko Taylor and Irma Thomas. Thomas, getting ready to leave for this week's B & H Chicago blues fest, the reigning queen of New Orleans rhythm & blues, discussed the differ- ences between the women who'd be sharing the stage of Avery Fisher Hall. "I'm a rhythm and blues artist," she said. "There's a big difference between what I do and what Koko does; hers is a real Chicago-type blues thing. Etta's pretty much R & B blues, although lately she's been leaning toward the hard-blues stuff• Ruth Brown has been all across the board, blues, R & B and I think her last Grammy was in jazz. "The night should be great," she added. "There's no rivalry. We can just all showcase. And people who wouldn't get a chance to see us individually can see us collectively.", u
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Koko Taylor wlll Yrfns ~ t Debbie Uaries plays Mr CMeaqo-type _~ lotUr with Albert Mws to tha A & N Fast Coilins and the nert Friday, kebreakers. 4p40567509
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i i DAILYM. NEWS 350 -_NEW YORK'S PICTURE NEWSPAPERS Thursday, October 11, 1990 A tribute to John Lee Hooker is the centerpiece of a week-long blues celebration By DAVID FYNCI(LEY ow, r:es snn W„ter N OWADAYS, THE MUSICIA2V8 most likely to scare people are probably ralipers - as much for their appearance as for the con• tent of their songs. But if you want something that's really scary, sit down sometime and listen to John Lee Hooker. When be's got a dark blues song going, it's an arctic wind that won't quit Fortunately, that doesn't describe John Lee Hooker the man. "I like people." he says. "When I'm playing some honky'-tonk club and I've fin- iahed my set, I go up to the bar I say, FRIoAY, OCT. 12 aiues At Noon. A hEa COn<en Dy lo!tn CamOD?b, tne + - •2( Pa'>• A,e al 42. St $iTUROAY. OCT. 13 B1ue5 Fiim F6trva1. A OGlen f~l.5 On perfo- Nke B= e a'c 6:, e no~_a. State Office &,uc,g 16:~~ !91tr5t 1:2m=11pm Free C.~i,2i2. i0 0',ud Gurter GrcataR, G- :a,o Axa Csi- E,, ' ?- x tJ°'-ans WaM, a, t~ Be- 7ee, St a• B~;,ac«ay 8 p.m SUNOAY.oCT,14 Goseei BrunM Or„e n„nm,-,~,rps Dena 88. 332 2 pm ,2129243499 BOOys Tki &eah of Day. aOOMe, TI wn',n,e Tayior So DN01ey " !+a"s Brot"s at tne eeacon. 8 p m (212, ?.:7 5850 MONDAY,ocT.15 B.'ues at Noon: Cacf.SS & W,'pg:rs at tre AVhun. noon Free B(ue Monday.. Pertormances at Marr, s Can.a3r 1558 rnr0 Ave„ 9 arW 11 P m 212 3699193. tane Star Roecnouse, 240 W.. 52, St 9 a^o 11 p.m. ,2121 245-2950, Trxnps, 45 st 21st St.. 9 and 11 p.m. (2121 727-7788, Deita 88 9 and 11 p.m, 12121 924-3499; S08's, 204 vancn St. 9 and 11 p.m,(212) 243~940; &ot^ers Ba' O-p, 228 W. hbuston St, 9 ana 11 p.m I2121 727-2775. TIJESDAY, OCT. 18 Biua al Neo~ 1Mn lac«son at tt" Nrwm, roon' hee TnDute to lolr+ tx Ment9r Maaiscn Spuare f,aroen 730 p~m. TIs f20591 Cah (2121 465• 6741 MEDN€SDAY, oCT, 17 atxs at Noon: Rouce Gorom anp tns nYMg Flow, noon tree GannWUCt arown, Manny's Carseh, 9 9n011pm T/NMonAY, oCT. 19 BWes at Nem: t.rty Jcnnson at tne Atnum. roon, hee. BWr Rar 4L Zera Ydmg vntn C~W akrm Posse Stuon /A:rseum. 144 W 191tn St., 7 and 9 p.m Free. alues at tM torw Siu Upto,.n Ha,u Rnytmm and B~ RM,9 ano Meda Strenk. Lme Star Roaanouse, 9 and 11 p.m rRwAY, ooT. 19 alueS al tN00n: Zpra YOW1g at ttY Ainu'ry rmfi, hee tryn-`c Drvr: Rutit Bram, Ena 1an,es, Korc Tay1W 3'W Imla TnomAS. A,try F,Sner 1t9N at lxY`Oln Ccnter, Broaowvy and 65tn St., 8 0.m. Caa 1212i 874-s770. CA1uanAY, ocT. 20 Biactttop RetoNS Wot Ean wng, oraoy Gam larrbs "Tn,.noerD,ro' Oavs anp Boocy RaGCM1 at Tramps. 45 W. 215t St.. 9 and 11 p.m Caa (212) 72777 88 SUNDAY, OCT 21 lE{!cy of tM a4Nf, netal,a, dlc MeuserocN6K. Oslto^ Be,ssaro arw Swn and Clarence Eavrares at r,ern, St Cente•. 486 Grs o 5t 1 p m F,ee nLti@S FOR ALL: John Lee Hooker (atxne) and Etta Janxs (Inset) wIM t9ke part In tne For info on ths Featirai, oap (2121 a94.BWES. Benson Q Hedges BLUBS Festival begmningto(nOfNW 'Hello there, What you doin' here?' "And they usually say, ' What you doin' here?' But I like to meet as many of tlle people as I caa I just like people around me," Hooker will meet a slew of people next'I1lesday, when he is the subject of °A Tribute to John Lee Hooker" at Madison Square Garden - an all-star blues concert that also serves as the cente,i'pieceoftheBen • Hedges Blues Festiv whic begins tomor- row. ee sc edule, leJt.) Among those who will be playing Tuesday are Gregg Allman, Joe Cock- er, Albert Collins, Ry Cooder, James Cotton, Bo Diddley, Willie Dixon, Mick Fleetwood, John Hammond, AI Kooper, Huey Lewis and members of Little Feat. it s an impressive list that only scratches the surface of Hook- er's admirers, who also include 1 the likes of Saatana, Robert Cray, Bonnie Raltt and Eric ClaptonIt'a also a list with a number of white performers, which doesn't con- cern Hooker in the least This is par- ttculariy significant considering that Hooker'f music haa always been among the least "pop" of any blues mmician• Oh, you can dance to it, but there's no slick sheen on Hooker's work,CromhisbigRkBhitslike "Boogie Chillen" and "In the Mood" to the hundreds of songs he recorded (under a variet7 of names) from the late'40s right up to the preaent "The blues knows no nationality," he sa7a. "Black people have the blues, white people have the blues, God put man here and God put wom- an here and that gave us companion- ship and love and hate. And that's the blues," What Hooker's "boogie" style has See MLEf page 48 `
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BLUESf ROfVI COVER clunr• %xtlh lhu,r hluc•, Is help Irc•r thein in ;onnc• nc•xx durec- liou, A.Ioliu I.ec• Ilouker rIff is al1uu~t uiuNers~~il in thc• blues [oda.x littt Ite sa„ anylhing hc has pa-",ed down ha, gone in (nrectly. --Whru 1111 I)l,,yiut; and I get nito .t :;roo\c•_ I follom i1." he : I d„n I tbuik about rhurd, ur har." 111u~t br huu drecl:, of tieol>le Iiavr counr up to uie oxer the >rars and said. 'l1o"e you do that:' Aitd I say I don't know- "I nevcr thought I was doing auythiug ,pt•cial, anyway. I just I1I4wed the way I learued it 1truiu nI1 Irlifalbc r, %1 ilI kloorc• l Ill;tired rvci Ybod). elsc• pIzl.\c•d lhc sauie \tati . Ilookc•r wa, a teenager whcn he slartect pta.Niug lor a living. backing up other uusic•ians and even doing a stint in the fauiouti gospel group the Fair- ficld Focu- IIc• luruied tns own band fin• good in the late '4Os, and nox~. 40-souie years laler, lie acknowlc•dges he deltvc•red ,uinethnig unnqtte. 1"t•,, il's beeu a pleasant dlsc'o~t•rv VJhal , evru nium pIra>aul. thou~,h. i, that w1hkc• niany of his bhles contpalriots, Ilookc•r has sutlived to t•njoy Ihe Il•uits of his labor_ At the age of 73, he lives comf'ortably in northern ('alitornia, wilh a satc•Ihte dish for bfischall and lootbail g;atties and a regular call lior lit-, \tork [le hati exc•u recoverc d -)outr of the nlunet lie uever got paid ye<us ago, ...I,herc's no way to ever know how uiuc•h moue,y I lost,.' he says_ [.'verybudy ripped you offthc•n- But I feel like in later yeat:s, I got back at 'em soluex\ hat I got soule good lawyers and got a big c'huuk of it- Probably nol all I got cheat- ed out of'. but some." '['hat doe~u't mean he has warmc•d up to lhuse old recvrd companies. hottrvt•r ..'1'hey•rc• prubahly still nplunt; people o'l' today I don't know how they slt•ep at night_" 1[e pauses a momeut and laughs l.iti• is too short "Actu ally, niaybc• that ts how they ~IeCk) al night , Rnotvint; 2040567511 ' thc•x ha\e all that nionvN say~ 'l'he siinl,le truth, lie is that hr t~ut happened to find a job lie likes 1Nusic•_ And the blues_ "Itoc•k 'n' roll aiu't nothin' but the blueti with another name," he says "'['hey're sayin' the same thing -my wouiau tell ine, I feel so bad." And how about rap music•:' Areu't some of those songs and lyrics vc•ry close to U•adi- tioual blueN" "I don't know." he says, laughing again. '-1 can't niake 'ew out. ('au*t un- derstand a word oI' it." Well, he's entitled. As lonr; as his guitar speaks as clearly as "Boogie ('hillen," John Lee Ilooker won't have any tl~oubjt Brown
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cbe Xj--w ~fl irk 9im4.'0 Arts qzwc Leisure c/s M U S I C THIS WEEK lahn ClumssoNGumma 1 ,pn Blues Salute 1 he Qenso~ I i dc~c s Qlu °>lt,stiv3l pays tribute to John Lee I iooker in a concert Tuesday at 7 30 at Madison Squarq C;:irden to benefit the Delta Blues FIl: iseurn in MississippL Sunday, October 14, 1990 se~2 ZTSL99dti'OE
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Huey Lewis lets it be known: "You Can Stay But the Noise Must Go." TOO John Lee Hooker gets a big hello from Bo Diddley back- stage at Madi- son Square Gar- den during Ben Hed es' blues festival and trib- ute to John Lee last night. The joint jumped at least as high as it does on a good Knicks' night.
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THE BOOMIN' BLUES At Hooker's tribute, artists gave the music a workout MAN OF THE HOURS: lohn Lee Hooker was the sub}ect of four-hourtnbute. !y DAVID NINCKLEY AS A MUSICAL FORM, the blues commands something bordenng on reverence. Now what it needs is more people who actually listen to it. That's a continuing para- dox, and some of the reasons were on display Tuesday at Madison Square Garden, when several dozen artists paid tribute to 73-year-old blues great John Lee Hooker. The concert, a fund-raiser for the Delta Blues Museum in Clarksdale, Miss., was also the centerpiece of the Ben- son & Hedges Blues Festival, playing through this week. Musically, Tuesday's show was worthy of Hooker, who is best known today for his up- BO IN'LOVE:' Bo D ddiey at Hooker tribute oo,u.D eooec.r wI« hcws beat boogies and his work with artists like Bonnie Rattt, but who earlier played a cru- cial role in bringing Southern blues to the North and trans- forming that music from an acoustic to an electric form. The problem was that the show ended up being, in some ways, too much of a good thing. It ran well over four hours, primarily be- cause blues musicians love to jam One nff becomes four, and no song escapes in less than six or seven minutes.' This creates some brilliant music It also can create an endurance test for those who do not have an endless capac- ity to play or listen. but sim- ply might like some blues in the mix every so often. That may be one reason why full-strength blues - uhtch ca>t be played concisely, as it was on records for decades - often ends up getting more lip serntce than play Tues- day. for instance, the blues got a nice introduction from Pat St. John of W':EW'-FM - a stahon that (Itke other mainstrearn stauons, has The music speaks for Itself, survtving without media help. no more room on it, pla>list for John Lee Huokrr or M ud- dy Waters than it does fur En- rico Caruso But th,s is not a nc~+ stor~ in the blues, whtch can sur- vive without much media help The music speaks for rt- self, and two of the most pow- erful speakers Tuesday came in from Chicago Willie Dixon and Charlie .Nusselwhi!e Dixon. an impeccably drea.ed man u hnse c,,- did not dimini.h hu digni;y sang two of his best,knoun sune<, "I Just W'anna Make Love to You' and "W'ang Dang Doo- dle," the latter partl} as a duet with Joe Cocker H1u,,elf white showed both on hi, solo and as part of the backup band that he remains one of the premier blues-harp play- ers, a welcome successor to the Little Walters and Sonnv Boy Williamsons. What MusselHhitr did uith makinF it cn - k~ t o0o'r did wtth his guitar Cuodcr also provided one of the See BLUES page 47
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, 1 BLUES FROM COVER night's most intriguing twists by featuring three vocalists, Bobby King. Terry Evans and Willie Green. Singing in a style that swung easily between gos- pel and R & B harmony. this trio gave a powerful vocal cen- ter to a show largely focused on instrumental work. Gregg Allman and Johnny Winter led all-star ensembles through workmanlike sets, highlighted by Aliman's rendi- tion of T-Bone Walker's "Stormy Monday." Cocker's set peaked with his anthemlike treatment of Willie Nelson's "Night Life." featuring AlIman on keyboards. Bo Diddley shifted "I'm a Man" and "Who Do You Love" from rock 'ri roll into a blue- sier mold. while the oddest note came from Huey Lewis. He plays a fairly nice harp and he has learned blues phrasing, but when he sings, he's still a PoP guy. Hooker came out several times, the first to do "Boom Boom" (a minor hit for him. later made famous by the Ani- mals and Bruce Springsteen). He joined Bonnie Raitt for a lively duet of their Grammy- winning "In the Mood" and joined the finale for his sigtfa- ture, "Boogie Chillen." Much of the crowd did stay for the duration, a well-de- served sign of affection for Hooker and many others who are no longer here. Now if all those artists roald just trans- late affection into sales. , , r , " , .
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07 Ijt xtUr jork 075hnti Copyright O 1990 The New YOrk Ttmes NEW YORK, SATURDAY, OCTOBER 20, 1990 50 c«,u bey«,a 75 mites from New Yor 16 Review/Pop After Several Generations, Blues Comes in A11 Colors By PETER WATROUS The first two shows of the Benson & Hedges Blues '90 series last weekend- at the Beacon Theater produced a decent amount of good music and loads of clues to the nature of the blues today. Ranging from Ry Cooder's spectacular re-imagining of American vernacular music to the Saturday-night functionalism of El- vin Bishop to Bo Diddley's extrava- gant neo-primitivism, it was clear that what is labeled as blues comes in all colors and sizes. And in the pre- dominantly white audience, it was clear that the blues - now a code word for older black styles of music - has jumped cultures and built new relationships with a new audience. That audience, at least last Satur- day, was made up partly of guitar hounds who seemed drawn to music that encouraged them to participate in guitar virtuosity, the sort of thing that can't be found anymore in most stadium shows, from Janet Jackson to L. L. Cool J, or even in heavy-metal acts. Blues is now clearly a substitute for an older rock-and-roll experience, which at one time was a substitute for the blues experience. When the gui- tarist and singer Joe Louis Walker, backed by an average band,impro- vised tricky, rhythmically sophisti- cated solos, the crowed roared in en- couragement. That same night, the guitarist Al- bert Collins performed a routine set, playing lukewarm material, badly ar- ranged and badly paced, that had the crowd screaming. Mr. Collins is a wild and virtuosic guitarist, and his improvisations were what people wanted to hear. , . ,But the evening's high point came in the form of an anomaly, a calm yet intense set by the reclusive guitarist Mr. Cooder, backed by the guitarist Dajvid Lindley, Mr. Cooder's son Joa- quin on percussion, and three gospel- THE NEW YORK TIMES THE ARTS trained singers, Willie Green, Terry Evans and Bobby King. Mr. Cooder's set obeyed none of the standard blues and rock strictures about involving the crowd; instead, he performed sumptuous pieces that seemed idiom- atically correct but weren't. Working through gospel ("Jesus Is on the Main Line"), early rock (Chuck Berry's "13 Question Meth- od") and Depression-era songs, he made a case for the malleability of American music. He would take an urban rhythm-and-blues tune and add rural slide guitar, or pack it with dense gospel harmonies. The set, in- formal and potentially cloying, was proof that vernacular music can be dressed up in all sorts of different ways. The show last Sunday, featuring Bo Diddley, Mr. Collins (who was substituting for the singer Johnnie Taylor) and Booker T. and the M.G.'s, underscored the appeal of blues as primitive and raw music. Bo Diddley walked onstage wearing' a cowboy hat, playing a square guitar and act- tng the part of the outsider, which few people in the audience had ever encountered in real life. He sang chants about bad breath, and he created a world of exaggera- tion and excess that was balanced by the carefulness of his guitar-playing and his gorgeous and precise singing. In his role as a buffoon, he has short- changed himself; on several tunes he led the journeyman backup band into loose group improvisations that al- lowed him to fool with guitar tex- tures, adding improvised riffs and solos that gave the music a serious- ness that could easily be overlooked. The sense of excess and humor was also in Mr. Collins's set, where he would take a phrase or a note and repeat it, while his band's horn sec- tion riffed, until anarchy threatened. Mr. Collins batters his material, us- Michelie V, AgmsiThe NeuYork Times Bo Diddley playing last weekend at the Beacon Theater. ing it as a foundation for his super- charged improvisations; walking out from the stage, up the aisles and into the Beacon's lobby, he turned an old rhythm-and-blues trick into a new way of causing excitment. Again, the best set on Sunday, by Booker T. and the M.G.'s, was an anomaly. The band, which played a set of its old material, reveled in control, never bothering with the au- dience and its desires. Each piece moved precisely from section to sec- tion, with each instrument defining its own role in an arrangement. As with Mr. Cooder, the music the band played seemed almost classical, as if it were being played with a conscious- ness of its cultural position, and with,, little concern that the audience exist- ed. It was music played for possibili- ties, full of dynamic and textural shifts. The concern for musical so- phistication, in the end, won the audi- ence more thoroughly than the ex- cesses of the rest of the nir?ht.
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Mtchelk V. Agins for The New York Times John Lee Hooker, left, and Joe Cocker during blues concert at Madison Square Garden. Review/Blues Low-Key Tribute to fohn Lee Hooker By JON PARELES The John Lee Hooker tribute con- cert on Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden was no tribute to Mr. Hooker's music or influence. In a show that lasted more than four hours, Mr. Hooker had a chance to perform exactly five of his songs, sandwiched between guests who trot• ted out their own material. Imagine, by analogy, a Stephen Sondheim trib- ute at which no one had bothered to learn any of his songs. The tribute was reportedly the first blues concert at Madison Square Gar- den, but it sa:d less about the state of the blues than about the $en~on and Hed es Blues Festival's uncertainty over w ether blues fans would fill the arena without the lure of big rock names, Its message, perhaps inad- vertent, was that the generation of black musicians who electrified the blues is aging or dead, and that the blues has been bequeathed to white rockers who are willing to acknowl- edge roots once in a while. Except for Albert Collins, who was vouchsafed one guitar solo, and the harmonica player James Cotton, the program lacked the younger black musicians - such as Robert Cray, Jessie Mae Hemphill, Lonnie Brooks, Michael Hill, Joe Louis Walker, Chris Thomas, Johnny Copeland and Li'1 Ed and the Imperials - for whom the Have white rockers inherited the blues? blues is a living legacy. The lineup also shifted the emphasis from the emotional directness of blues singing to the technical display of instrumen- tal solos. • Mr. Hooker is the minimalist of the blues, using one-chord vamps to car- ry tidings of desolation or exhorta- tions to good times, His style launched a thousand mediocre boogie bands at the end of the 1960's, but his own songs have a disquieting core in the combination of his deep, baleful voice and barbed squiggles of guitar. The concert offered one glimpse of Mr. Hooker's deepest blues when he sang the bleak "Hobo Blues" accom- panied by Ry Cooder on slide guitar and Mr. Cooder's sparsely propulsive band, followed by an uptempo boogie. Bonnie Raitt, an unadvertised guest, then joined the group to sing "I'm in the Mood" with Mr. Hooker. From there, the show returned to shapeless rambling. The plan of the concert - a revue with three rhythm sections to back Mr. Hooker and guests - was a good idea that became overstuffed; side- men like Charlie Musselwhite on har• monica and Al Kooper on organ end- ed up playing more solos than the stars did. Of the three bands, Mr Cooder's group and an ensemble with three members of Little Feat plus the New Orleans bassist George Porte: were exemplary. But the opening group, which backed most of the con cert's second-tier names, ploddec badly, perhaps worst when it turned Bo Diddley's "Who Do You Love," the source of a revered rock rhythm into a polka. • The concert's better performers in- cluded Johnny Winter, playing sinu- ous guitar solos; Gregg Allman, sing- ing with weary conviction backed by Warren Haynes's slide guitar, and Mr. Cooder and his band. Willie Dix• on, the Chicago blues songwriter, drew a standing ovation as he shook his cane and sang "I Just Wanna Make Love to You." But listeners also had to put up with Joe Cocker's worn-out Ray Charles imitations, Huey Lewis's mild-man- nered pop-blues and a slew of lesser lights. By the time Mr. Hooker re- turned to the stage for the closing "Boogie," with his guitar and voice obscured by the stageful of guests, the concert had dragged on far too long. 2040567517
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ef ftu ~ QThA ~'etu Ut*k Q75 NEW YORK, T UESDAY, OCTOBER 23, 1990 Review/Music Blues With a B, as in Broken and Bawdy By JON PARELES Betrayal, bad luck, broken hearts and shaking hips - those were the makings of a triumphant concert on Friday night at Avery Fisher Hall, where the B.n¢on R. HedgPS RlnPc festival concluded with "Dynamic Di- vas." Three rhythm-and-blues sing- ers who made their reputations in the 1950's and 1960's - Etta James, Ruth Brown and Irma Thomas - and the Chicago blues singer Koko Taylor tes~ tified to women's strength and hu- mor, in voices that teased and growled, flirted and shouted. The vocal display was often mag- nificent, but emotionality, not virtuos- ity, was the main point. Each singer created a character for herself: Miss James was lusty and playful, Miss Brown gracious and sly, Miss Thom- as long-suffering and tender, Miss Taylor brash and blustery. And the three rhythm-and-blues singers are past masters of uniting singer and song, so that their improvisations carry the listener deeper into the song. Not that Miss James was above showing off. She has one of the great voices in American popular music, with a huge range, a multiplicity of tones and vast reserves of volume; she belted parts of her set with her microphone down at her waist, and part with no microphone at all. Her singing can be girlish and clear or grainy and gutsy, and in the course of a song she might repeat a line gently, roughly, angrily, sweetly. She tossed phrases back and forth with her band; she tossed phrases back and forth with the audience, which amused her by coming in ahead of its cues. ("You guys sing like you drive," she bantered.) Michelle V. AginsiThe New York Times Ruth Brown performing Friday night at Avery Fisher Hall. Miss James doesn't have a hint of formality; she would bump and grind at the drop of a downbeat. But when she wanted to make a line sultry, or cutting, or flippant, she knew exactly what to do. "People who don't like the blues - they're phony," she an- nounced. "They don't want to deal with it." • Where Miss James cut loose, Miss Brown has made herself a perfect, stylized mask: every note and ges- ture poised, so that the cockiness or heartbreak of the songs'is balanced by a wry hindsight. Her band, which has been working regularly with her for a year, carries her voice like a feather bed; she pushes ahead of the beat or eases behind it knowing there will be a cushion of saxophones or organ to hold it. And amid the refine- ment, her voice carries tears and savage humor; the songs are never so polished that they don't ring true. Miss Thomas has only improvedd since she had her hits in the early 1960's. She has a light, agile voice that carries unmistakable echoes of New Orleans tradition - the way she bends notes, the way she skips synco- pations across the beat and then glides to the end of a phrase. The songs Allen Toussaint wrote for her, including "It's Raining" and "Cry On," seem inconsolable, but her sing- ing suggests that she'll get over her unhappiness. A 35-minute opening set was too short. • Koko Taylor has a smart tactic; she makes male boasts her own, switching the gender in songs from Bo Diddley, Willie Dixon and Ted Nugent to flaunt her own spunk or to face down paranoia. Her band, fea- turing James Johnson on guitar, knocks out crisp, chugging minor-key blues. But Ms, Taylor is such a lim- ited singer - rasping her high notes, crooning her low ones and not linger- ing on anything in between - that her bravado sounds forced. Unlike the other women on the bill, she didn't have enough lung power to inflate her own persona. Both Ms. Taylor and Miss Thomas were sabotaged by a sound mix that made their bands sound scattered and the vocals hollow. It's the kind of mix heard too often at Avery Fisher Hall, but the sets by Miss Brown and Miss James.proved it didn't have to be that way.
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THURSDAY, OCT. 18, 1990 • MANHATTAN • 25 CENTS Newsday Bruce Gilbert John Lee Hooker, center, on stage with Johnny Winter and Bonnie Raitt at the Garden. Hooker: The Natural Bluesman A TRIBUTE TO JOHN LEE HOOKER. A blues banquet with Bonnie Raitt, Ry Cooder, Gregg Aliman, Mick Fleetwood, Joe Cocker, Huey Lewis, James Cotton, Johnny Winter, Will'ie Dixon, Bo Diddley and many more. Benson & Hedges Blues, Madison Square Garden, Tuesday night. By John Anderson STAFF WRITER OHN LEE HOOKER'S own primeval rumblings provided the most enjoyable and most revealing moments during his big-name-heavy tribute at the Garden Tuesday night. Hunkered down in a chair alongside guitarist Ry Cooder, the 73-year- old bluesman offered his young audience a lesson in the blues - and maybe scared the hell out of them, too. It was the natural Hooker: stark, minimal, spooky and uncompromising. Echoing the earli- est Delta tradition, he stripped the music to its rawest state. Don't try to pretty me up, he might have told his sidemen, 'cause the blues ain't pret- ty. And it ain't about screaming guitars till dawn. This was a point lost on some of the performers who would subsequently take the stage during a show that had more than its share of clumsy mo- ments. Hooker, though, shone like the sun. He might reduce a 12-bar blues to 11ii~ 'r 10 depending on his whim, but Hooker got precise and subtle support from Cooder - who had just performed a stunning set of his own with singers Terry Evans, Willie Green and Bobby King, drum- mer Jim Keltner and bassist Tim Drummond. There was a sense of respect and affection for the older man's idiosyncratic style, which was amplified when Bonnie Raitt, a previously unan- nounced guest, joined him for their Grammy- winning duet, "I'm in the Mood." Their numbers were a vast improvement over Hooker's first ap- pearance on stage, when he was fairly over- whelmed by guitars and harmonicas and became less of a focus than an excuse to boogie. And it was a dream compared to the final jam, which became a pudding of confused sound. One problem, it seemed, was not so much a lack of rehearsal or the informality of the show, but in a basic lack of familiarity with standard blues material. Chicago blues legend Willie Dix- on, for instance, came on stage later in the eve- ning to sing two of his classics: "I Just Want to Make Love to You" and "Wang Dang Doodle." The band of the moment, which include~ Ltt1v Feat members Paul Barrere, Bill Payne and Ri- chie Hayward, seemed never to have heard the songs before and Dixon, urging the group to ad- just its tempo, appeared increasingly uncomfort- able. It would have been appropriate for some of the performers, who presumably volunteered for this nson & Hed es Blues show (a benefit for the De ta Blues useum to aquaint themselves Please see HOOKER on Page 11 10

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