Saturday, July 10, 2010

Chicago’s “Secret Blues Haunts.”

The Blues Birthday Bash
Lady Lee, Terry Lape AKA "Gatorman" and Cyrus Hayes
Friday night I headed to an area of Chicago called Wicker Park. The area has changed drastically since I gigged there in the late seventies.  Wicker Park has become one of the trendiest areas in Chicago. Located in that area is a club called Phyllis’ Musical Inn.  It has been in the same spot since the late thirties.  I had some great times playing there with my blues mentor Smiling Bobby (Wolf Records) way back in the day.

 Phyllis’ Musical Inn
The place I headed for was Jerry’s Restaurant.  It is a couple of blocks west of Phyllis’ Musical Inn and I just had to revisit the old haunts.  I received an invite to Jerry’s because Lady Lee was celebrating her Birthday there.

Lady Lee and Cyrus Hayes
Cyrus is a master harpist that can blow a wicked harmonica. I would put him in the top ten worldwide. Their performances include Cyrus’ harp wizardry and Lady Lee’s rich baritone voice.  It is this talent that places them way above the typical blues musician crowd.  If there was a kingdom of the blues they would most certainly reign as King and Queen. When Lady Lee and Cyrus Hayes hold court there are always local amateur and professional performers in attendance. Cyrus and Lee have no problem letting them sit in with the band.

Jake Dawson
Jake Dawson  plays on and off with the band and was a member of the band that day.  Jake has numerous credits some of which are; Albert King, Willie Kent and James Brown to mention just a few.  Jake was one of the original "Flames" and said that James once fired the whole band and left everyone stranded in Miami. He also says that Brown's estate owes him $500.

Jake and Holly Thee Maxwell
Holly Thee Maxwell was in the audience and sang a couple of numbers. Holly was a back–up singer in the Ike and Tina Turner review. When Tina left the band Holly filled the spot.  She is an excellent performer and a wonderful person. She calls herself the Black Blonde Bombshell. That she is.

Harmonica Jack

Next up was the little known entertainer, Harmonica Jack.  Cyrus gives credit to Jack for teaching him to play. Jack is old school and has a style reminiscent of Jimmy Reed and he is an unsung blues heroes.

Lady Lee Clem's wife, 
Clem and Cyrus

Clement Bashir also played harmonica with the group. He did two songs which included; a very soulful rendition of Summertime and a killer version of the Jazz tune Killer Joe.

Cyrus Hayes
 and Bud Samuels
Bud Samuels was also in attendance. Bud is a voice-over actor who lives right outside Los Angeles.  He was in town selling a guitar. It turns out he is also past promotion and marketing director for ABC, Motown and Rocshire records.  Bud has worked with some great talents including B.B. King, Diana Ross, Jimmy Buffet, Stevie Wonder, Tom Petty and Steely Dan. Bud and I hit it off and I will be keeping in touch with him. I might add he does stand-up comedy.