Ann Rabson Piano, Guitar and Vocals
Gaye Adegbalola Guitar, Harmonica and Vocals
Andra Faye McIntosh Acoustic Bass, Mandolin, Guitar, Fiddle and Vocals
Clark Dean, Soprano Saxophone on Sweet Substitute
Produced by Saffire -- The Uppity Blues Women and Bruce Iglauer
Invaluable production assistance by Sam Fishkin
Recorded and mixed by Sam Fishkin at Streeterville Studios, Chicago, IL
Additional recording by Jim Godsey and Dave Brickson
Engineering assistance by Heather Handberg, Paul Lundin, Kevin Baker and Brian Jensen
Photos by Marc Norberg
Design by Matt Minde
Mastered by Jay O'Rourke at Monster Disc, Chicago, IL
With this album we hope to pay tribute to many of the artists who've helped influence our unique style of blues. We embrace the old: Ma Rainey (the "Mother of the Blues"), Jelly Roll Morton (the "Inventor of Jazz"), Big Mama Thorton and a multitude of others. We celebrate the new: Andra Faye McIntosh, who joined us in 1992, makes her Alligator debut as an official uppity blues woman. We've begged, stolen and borrowed a variety of songs, rhythms, textures, licks and tricks... So, we present this collection which reflects many shades of blue. - GAYE ADEGBALOLA AND ANN RABSON
Fools' Night Out
The moon can work powerful magic. We met Andra while "howling in the moonlight" at a blues camp in Elkins, West Virginia -- where this song is somewhat of an anthem. It was written by the incomparable Phil Wiggins (of Cephas and Wiggins), and is too infectious not to borrow. It also serves as our tribute to all those wonderful people who have spent their nights out being foolish with us at various clubs, concerts, festivals, conferences and parties.
-G.A. and A.R.
'T'aint Nobody's Business
Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday, Jimmy Witherspoon and many other greats have recorded this song. I really wanted to do so, too. I enjoy the music and I couldn't agree more with the message. - A.R.
You Got To Know How
I fell in love with Bonnie Raitt's music when I was 16. When I finally learned to play guitar, the tunes I wanted to learn first were her blues, and especially her Sippie Wallace covers. Our version has evolved from an arrangement by David Morgan, a fine Indianapolis-based guitarist/teacher, and pays tribute to Sippie, Bonnie and finally, with my fiddle overdub, to Howard Armstrong! It's the folk process. - A.F.M.
Do Your Duty
Bessie did it; Billie did it; and recently, Rory Block did it. This song welcomes many interpretations. One can beg or grovel. One can coyly ask or command. One can threaten or get angry. I have opted to slow the tempo down and try to cover a spectrum of emotions. -G.A.
Roll Mr. Jelly
I got to hear many hits by the unforgettable Amos Milburn when I was young. I kind of rediscovered him eight or nine years ago. This is not really typical of his work, but I sure like the song. - A.R.
My mother ran the teen canteen when I was a kid. Every six months or so, the jukebox would be changed. She'd bring the old 78s home. I was in love with Johnny Ace (Pledging My Love, Never Let Me Go). He sounded so sincere and so vulnerable. I'd play his records 'til "the grooves turned white." The Clock, ever so simple lyrically and musically, was the saddest of them all. It is said that Johnny killed himself in 1954, playing Russian roulette.
The Richest Guy In The Graveyard
I've always dreamed of singing with a big band -- I love the music, the fancy dresses, the dancing and the nightclub setting. This big band novelty tune, originally performed by the inimitable Etta Jones, caught my ear as a perfect ode to the '90s workaholic. -A.F.M.
Don't You Tell Me
I wrote this as a tribute to Lucille Bogan and Memphis Minnie, who inspired the music and words. - A.R.
Bitch With A Bad Attitude
Whitney sings Dolly's, "If I should stay, I'd only be in the way... And so, I'll go..." What??? No, No, No!! This is the'90s -- it's time to stand up, to be uppity! Bitch's form was originally to be a tribute to the "talking blues" form, but a melody evolved around a minor chord in the third line. The hook, the title, its origin? Well, I promised the SWTABs in Dayton, Ohio, that I'd write a song for them. Oh...SWTAB: The Something Worse Than A Bitch Club. - G.A.
This song was written by the wonderful Jelly Roll Morton. I'd like it to serve as a tribute to him and also to those great traditional jazz musicians (Kid Ory, Eddie Lang, Louis Armstrong, to name a few) who accompanied our foremothers, the classic uppity blues women. -A.R.
Baby, I'm Wise
It's my fantasy to live in Chicago in the summer and New Orleans in the winter. This song, originally recorded by Eddie Bo, is a tribute to my winter dream home and the extraordinary musicians from there who have enriched my life -- Fats, Tuts, Smiley, Fess, Archibald, etc.
Falling Back In Love With You
This lovely tune by Lonnie Mack got stuck in my brain as Ann was learning it at soundcheck. She thought it'd be perfect for me and encouraged me to sing it. Lonnie's probably best known for his hot guitar, but is a wonderful vocalist as well. Like me, Lonnie is from the Midwest, and often rides the line between blues and country music. - A.F.M.
There's Lightning In These Thunder Thighs
Gaye was given a copy of this tune by an East Coast singer named Gail Bliss and passed it along to me - I guess because I had the thighs to sing it! This modern anthem for big-legged women is out of the realm of classics like Willie Dixon's Built For Comfort, Not For Speed and I hope, inspires us to ignore the media hype of perfection and empowers all of us to love our bodies, no matter what size we may be! Thanks to all our fans who've been begging to have this one recorded ... - A.F.M.
How Can I Say I Miss You?
I have written maybe a half-dozen rags, or I should say "ragtime-type" songs. They just feel SO GOOD! (I sometimes envision cartoon characters and objects dancing all around.) That old-timey sound is combined with contemporary lyrics so that a serious message is delivered without an ominous mood. - G.A.
Life Goes On
Big Mama Thorton is one of my favorite singers and inspirations on harmonica. Her phrasing is unique ("always a LIT-TLE rain") and her nasal tones are gently placed ("never, never understand"). She is able to squeeze words and wring a phrase dry ("so much pa-i-i-in"). Her endings are often a capella. While I often try to borrow her techniques, she occasionally gives me her soul. - G.A.
Yonder Come The Blues
Ma Rainey is known as the "Mother of the Blues" and we certainly want to pay our due respect. We gave this a country-blues feel by using two guitars and mandolin instead of the classic piano sound for a twist. Some days, no matter where you go, or how hard you try, yonder come the blues. This one is for Peaches...- A.F.M.
There was not enough room on the album to pay tribute to all my musical influences -- hell, there's not even room in the liner notes to call all their names, but my piano playing is always a tribute to those unforgettable musicians I listen to. On this album there are fairly obvious echoes including the Pinetops (Smith and Perkins), Ray Charles, Archibald, Otis Spann, guitarist Tommy Johnson, Professor Longhair, Cow Cow Davenport and Jimmy Yancey, to mention a few, and the somewhat less obvious shadows of many dozens of others. Without them, I'd be playing Chopsticks. - Ann Rabson
I was unable to pay tribute to all my mentors. I considered songs by Big Maybelle, Victoria Spivey, Alberta Hunter, Fats Domino, Louis Jordan, Jimmy and Mama Yancey, Little Esther Phillips, Nina Simone, Willie Dixon, Lloyd Price and Lil' Johnson. Needless to say, these artists are among my favorites... as well as those whose songs were selected for this album. My vocals have been greatly influenced by Ruth Brown (the squeal in particular), Koko Taylor (the growl and how to work a mic), Nina Simone (how to tell a story), Ida Cox (how to enunciate), Etta James and Ray Charles (phrasing) and old Tina Turner (energy). Millie Jackson, Nappy Brown, Screamin' Jay Hawkins and Taj Mahal have given me lessons in how to put on a show. As writers, Willie Dixon, Denise LaSalle and Jimmy Reed are among my favorites. Phil Wiggins has been my harmonica teacher and I'm in love with Sonny Boy Williamson (Rice Miller) totally -- singer, writer, harp player...performer! On guitar, Ann Rabson has been my primary teacher and Joan Fenton taught me movable chords (hallelujah). My "total package" has perhaps been most inspired by Rosetta Reitz of Rosetta Records. Her work has given me the vision to simultaneously be a "Sweet Petunia" and a "Mean Mother"... an independent blues woman. -Gaye Adegbalola
I've been lucky to have been exposed to a wide variety of musical styles, beginning with classic country, rock 'n' roll and rhythm & blues. While there is not enough room to give thanks to all who have inspired me, I feel I need to acknowledge those who have most influenced me: my mentors -- Yank Rachell, Howard Armstrong, Tiny Moore, Rich Del Grosso, John Cephas, Joan Fenton, John Jackson and Nat Reese; and my idols -- Elvis Presley, Patsy Cline, Aretha Franklin, Alberta Hunter, Ella Fitzgerald, Ida Cox, Willie Dixon, Peggy Lee, Stephan Grappelli, Gatemouth Brown, Koko Taylor, B.B. King, and on and on... - Andra Faye McIntosh
I'd like to thank my sweetie, George Newman; my daughter, Liz Morford; all those Rabsons; Gaye, Andra and the rest of my family and friends for the enthusiasm and understanding which brighten my life. Thanks also to Erwin Helfer for great ideas for this album and beyond, Joe Krown forgiving me Eb and Bb, and Sunnyland Slim for all the inspiration. -A.R.
I sincerely thank my "teachers" and hope this tribute is worthy of their lessons. I also thank Chase Jackson of the Chase Group and Kathleen Finigan of Pegasus Productions for their work and their friendship. A special thank you to Tom Schiff, who keeps my "working guitar" working. To Andra and Ann: it do be good! Thank you to Judy Luis-Watson, my other musical partner. And to my immediate family -- Juno, Mom and Suzanne: I thank you for unconditional love and support, 360 degrees. I am blessed. Thank you, God. -G.A.
I would like to thank Ann and Gaye for believing in me more than I believed in myself and for giving me the opportunity to make my dreams come true(!); Jack, Mom, Ely and Denise, Mert and the rest of my dear family and friends for their unfailing support, patience, love and encouragement; my teachers for sharing their musical souls. Many thanks to Chris McMahon for helping me become a bass player in record time! In loving memory of my father, Harlan G. Hinkle (1929-1992) -A.F.M.
The members of Saffire -- The Uppity Blues Women want to thank:
Bruce Iglauer and the Alligator staff, Jay Bell and the Pilot Management staff, Suzanne Moe, Sam Fishkin, Marc Norberg and staff, Mongrel Music, East Coast Entertainment, Gus Rabson and E&R Publishing, Beth Perkins, Felicia Mazur, Larry Thompson and Advance Travel...
Those Uppity people who support the blues in radio/TV/print, the club owners, concert promoters, sound techs...
Finally, we want to thank you, our friends and fans. We want to encourage each of you to join your local blues society and, if you have no local blues society, we want to encourage you to start one.
Also available by Saffire--The Uppity Blues Women on Alligator Records:
Saffire--The Uppity Blues Women (ALCD 4780)
Hot Flash (ALCD 4796)
Broadcasting (ALCD 4811)