Holmes Brother Feature Story in
Writer Jason Macneil interviewed the Holmes Brothers about their new CD, Simple Truths, in this feature story for

B.B. King Set to Headline Living Blues’ Second Annual Blues Today Symposium
OXFORD, Mississippi – Legendary musician B.B. King returns to his home state February 26-28 to perform at the University of Mississippi’s (UM) second annual Blues Today symposium. Produced by Living Blues magazine – a publication of UM’s Center for the Study of Southern Culture – the event includes everything from a panel discussion on the current state of the blues to a goat roast at a local juke joint.

Holmes Brothers' Simple Truths Reviewed on National Public Radio's All Things Considered
Critic Meredith Ochs reviewed the Holmes Brothers' CD Simple Truths on the January 19, 2004 edition on the National Public Radio program All Things Considered.

Kenny Neal & Billy Branch's Double Take Reviewed in Billboard
Philip Van Vleck reviewed the new Kenny Neal & Billy Branch cd, Doubletake, in the January 13, 2004 issue of Billboard.

Holmes Brothers Simple Truths Championed on All Songs Considered
The Holmes Brothers new cd, Simple Truths, received a glowing endorsement from reviewer Meredeth Ochs on the National Public Radio On-Line program, All Songs Considered. Ochs declares, "This is the best contemporary electric blues record I've heard in a long time." The Holmes segment occurs at the 31:22 point in the show.

Holmes Brothers' Simple Truths Receives 3 1/2 Star Review in USA TODAY
Writing in the 13 January 2004 edition of USA TODAY, Brian Mansfield says "Simple Truths" features the most eclectic mix of songs you'll hear this year...masterful."

Holmes Brothers' Simple Truths Reviewed in New York Post
Dan Aquilante checked in with this positive review in the 13 January 2004 edition of the New York Post, declaring Simple Truths "a timeless album."

Holmes Brothers on "Here And Now"
The Holmes Brothers appeared on the WBUR program "Here And Now." Hear Sherman and Wendell Holmes and Popsy Dixon talk about their new cd, Simple Truths in this 10 minute segment.

The Blues Foundation today announced the nominees for the 25th Annual W.C. Handy Blues Awards. Eight Alligator recording artists received a total of 15 nominations. Austin-based singer/songwriter/pianist Marcia Ball (who was recently nominated for a Grammy(c) Award) received four nominations, guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Michael Burks followed with three nominations. Singing sensation Shemekia Copeland and Roomful of Blues (who also received a Grammy(c) nomination) followed with two nominations apiece, while Little Charlie and the Nightcats, W.C. Clark, Andra Faye (of Saffire-The Uppity Blues Women) and Koko Taylor each received one nomination. The Handy Awards ceremony and concert will be held April 29, 2004 at the Cook Convention Center on Main Street in downtown Memphis.


Alligator artists and nominations are as follows:

Contemporary Female Blues Artist of the Year
Blues Instrumentalist Of The Year - Keyboards
Blues Song Of The Year - "Foreclose On The House Of Love" (John Lee Sanders) from "So Many Rivers"
Contemporary Blues Album Of The Year - "So Many Rivers"

Blues Instrumentalist Of The Year - Guitar
Blues Song Of The Year - "I Smell Smoke" (Jon Tiven, Sally Tiven and Roger Reale) from "I Smell Smoke"
Contemporary Blues Album Of The Year - "I Smell Smoke"

Blues Entertainer of the Year
Contemporary Female Blues Artist of the Year

Traditional Female Blues Artist of the Year

Soul Blues Male Artist of the Year

Blues Band Of The Year
Blues Instrumentalist Of The Year - Horns

Blues Band of the Year

ANDRA FAYE (of Saffire-The Uppity Blues Women)
Blues Instrumentalist Of The Year - Violin

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Holmes Brothers' Simple Truths reviewd in Billboard
The new Holmes Brothers CD, Simple Truths, received a glowing review from writer Chris Morris in Billboard magazine.

Grammy Award-winning ‘Queen of the Blues’ Koko Taylor, 75, is recovering from surgery to correct a gastrointestinal bleed. The surgery was performed on November 2 at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago. According to Dr. Angelo Costas, her primary care physician, Ms. Taylor is “greatly recovered” from the surgery. She has just been moved to the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, and is expected to return home by Christmas. Her doctors anticipate a full recovery. Ms. Taylor hopes to begin performing again in late winter or early spring of 2004.


Koko Taylor’s musical career spans over 40 years. From her humble beginnings on a sharecroppers’ farm near Memphis to her current status as one of the greatest voices that the blues has ever produced, Taylor’s story is a tale of talent, hard work, perseverance and dedication. Her soul-drenched voice and riveting stage presence have earned her fans across the globe as well as a host of accolades and awards from the blues world and beyond, including a Grammy© Award and 21 W.C. Handy Awards (the highest award the blues world has to offer).

Born Cora Walton just outside of Memphis, Tennessee, Taylor was an orphan by age 11. An early love of chocolate earned her the lifelong nickname Koko. Along with her five brothers and sisters, Koko developed a love for music from a mixture of the gospel songs she heard in church and the blues and R&B songs she heard on B.B. King’s daily radio show beaming in from Memphis. Even though her father encouraged her to sing only gospel music, Koko and her siblings would sneak behind their one room house with their homemade instruments and play the blues. With one brother accompanying her on a guitar made out of bailing wire and nails and another on a fife made out of a corncob, Koko began her career as a blues woman. As a youngster, Koko was enthralled by blues men and women like Memphis Minnie, Bessie Smith, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf and Sonny Boy Williamson. Although she loved to sing, she never dreamed of joining their ranks.

When she was 18, Koko and her soon-to-be husband, the late Robert “Pops” Taylor, moved to Chicago. Arriving with nothing but, in Koko’s words, “thirty-five cents and a box of Ritz crackers,” the couple settled down on the city’s South Side, the cradle of the rough-edged sound of Chicago blues. Taylor found work doing house cleaning for a wealthy family in the city’s plush northern suburbs. At night and on weekends, Koko and her husband would visit the clubs, hearing Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Magic Sam, Buddy Guy and Junior Wells. And thanks to prodding from ‘Pops,’ it wasn’t long before Koko was sitting in with those legendary blues artists on a regular basis.

Her big break came in 1962. After she gave a particularly fiery performance with Howlin’ Wolf’s band, famed blues producer/songwriter Willie Dixon approached her. Much to Koko’s astonishment, he told her, “My God, I never heard a woman sing the blues like you. There are lots of men singing the blues today, but not enough women. That’s what the world needs today, a woman with a voice like yours.” Dixon got Koko a Chess recording contract and produced several singles and two albums for her, including the million-selling 1966 hit single Wang Dang Doodle. That song firmly established Koko as one of the hottest female blues talents.

In the early 1970s, Taylor was among the first of the South Side Chicago blues artists to perform on the city’s North Side. In 1972, she played at the Ann Arbor Blues and Jazz Festival in front of more people than ever before in her career (including Alligator Records president Bruce Iglauer). Atlantic Records recorded the festival and released a live album, which brought Koko to the attention of a large national audience. In 1975, Koko found a home with Alligator Records. Her first album for the fledgling label, I Got What It Takes, earned a Grammy© nomination. Since then, Koko has recorded seven more critically acclaimed albums for Alligator and has made numerous guest appearances on recordings by her famous friends. Her most recent recorded appearance was the opening song on Alligator Records’ Genuine Houserockin’ Christmas, released in the fall of 2003.

Aside from her many recordings, Koko has also made her mark in movies and on television. She was recently featured in the PBS television series Martin Scorsese’s The Blues. She appeared in the feature films Wild At Heart, Mercury Rising and Blues Brothers 2000. She has performed on Late Night With David Letterman, Late Night With Conan O’Brien, CBS-TV’s This Morning, National Public Radio’s All Things Considered, FOX-TV’s New York Undercover and many regional television programs. People, Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly and Life are just a few of the national publications to run Koko Taylor features and reviews.

Over the course of her 40-year career, Taylor has received just about every award the blues world has to offer. She has earned 21 W.C. Handy Awards (more than any other artist), six Grammy© nominations for her last seven Alligator recordings and won a Grammy© in 1984 for the compilation album Blues Explosion on Atlantic. On March 3, 1993, Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley honored Taylor with a “Legend Of The Year” Award and declared “Koko Taylor Day” throughout Chicago. In 1997, she was inducted into the Blues Foundation’s Hall of Fame. A year later, Chicago Magazine named her “Chicagoan Of The Year” and, in 1999, Taylor received the Blues Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

Taylor has succeeded in the male-dominated blues world. She’s taken her music from the tiny clubs of Chicago’s South Side to world-renowned festivals. She has shared stages with Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, B.B. King, Junior Wells and Buddy Guy as well as with Robert Plant, Jimmy Page and Eric Clapton. Taylor continues to perform over 80 concerts a year worldwide. Through good times and personal hardships, Koko Taylor has become a true blues icon. “It’s a challenge,” she says. “It’s tough being out here doing what I’m doing in what they call a man’s world. It’s not every woman that can hang in there and do what I’m doing today.”

Koko Taylor (Chess)
Basic Soul (Chess)
South Side Baby (originally on Black & Blue; reissued on Evidence)
I Got What It Takes (Alligator)
The Earthshaker (Alligator)
From The Heart Of A Woman (Alligator)
Queen Of The Blues (Alligator)
Live From Chicago-An Audience With The Queen (Alligator)
Jump For Joy (Alligator)
Force Of Nature (Alligator)
Royal Blue (Alligator)
Deluxe Edition (Alligator)

Other appearances:
Blues Deluxe (XRT/Alligator)
The Alligator Records 20th Anniversary Tour (Alligator)
The Alligator Records Christmas Collection (Alligator)
Alligator Records’ Genuine Houserockin’ Christmas (Alligator)
Blues Explosion (Atlantic)
Coast To Coast (Paul Shaffer - Capitol)
Blues Summit (B.B. King - MCA)
Blues Down Deep: Songs Of Janis Joplin (House Of Blues)
Blues Power/Songs Of Eric Clapton (House Of Blues)

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Alligator Records is proud to announce that Marcia Ball and Roomful of Blues both received Grammy© Award nominations. Ball’s album, SO MANY RIVERS, was nominated in the Best Contemporary Blues Album category. “Billboard” declared, “[Ball is] a killer pianist and a great singer. SO MANY RIVERS is the best album she has ever tracked.” Roomful of Blues’ album, THAT’S RIGHT!, received the nomination in the Best Traditional Blues Album category. “The Chicago Sun-Times” said THAT’S RIGHT! “swaggers, sways and swings with energy and precision. This is a band on top of its game.”


The 46th Annual Grammy© Awards Ceremony will be held at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on February 8, 2004.
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