Jump/blues/swing masters Little Charlie and the Nightcats appeared on National Public Radio’s “Weekend Edition” on Saturday, April 20. The feature includes interviews with guitarist Little Charlie Baty and vocalist/harmonicist/songwriter Rick Estrin, as well as live performances from the entire band.

Alligator Records received a 2002 Keeping The Blues Alive Award from The Blues Foundation in a ceremony held at the Gibson Guitar Factory in Memphis on February 10.


According to The Blues Foundation, "the Keeping The Blues Alive Awards are given each year to individuals and organizations that have contributed to the growth and vitality of the Blues industry. The KBA Awards recognize the outstanding accomplishments and contribution sof non-performers in teh Blues world."
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JOHN JACKSON 1924 - 2002
Famed Virginia blues and ragtime songster John Jackson, whose gentle, acoustic guitar picking and warm, rich baritone voice won him a National Heritage Fellowship in 1986, died of complications from liver cancer on Sunday, January 20, 2002 in Virginia.

JOHN JACKSON 1924 - 2002

JOHN JACKSON 1925 - 2002

"Jackson is a brilliant technician and a master of East Coast blues."
--Living Blues

"A genuine blues legend, performing in his own distinctive style, beholden to no one else."
--Washington Post

Jackson was one of the last remaining first-generation country bluesmen. His music--East Coast Piedmont-style blues, ragtime, folk, old-time hillbilly songs and ballads--transcended race, class and intellectual backgrounds. The Chicago Tribune called Jackson, "a master of both songster classics and Piedmont-style blues fingerpicking...mingling engaging storytelling, authoritative musicianship and down home charm."

Over the years, Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, Bonnie Raitt, Arlo Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Luther Allison, Junior Wells and Son House all shared stages and swapped songs with Jackson. Carl Sandburg and Alex Haley, even Fred Rogers (Mr. Rogers Neighborhood ) counted themselves among Jackson's close friends. With a strong desire to stay in Virginia and not take to the road very often, Jackson's accomplishments were truly astounding. He went from playing on his front porch to playing at President Jimmy Carter's Labor Day Picnic at the White House, Carnegie Hall, the Royal Albert Hall, to points all over the world.

Over the course of his career, Jackson released a total of nine albums. His most recent recording, 1999's Front Porch Blues on Chicago-based Alligator Records, reintroduced Jackson to a national audience. The album received widespread critical and popular acclaim, and it also received three W.C. Handy Blues Award nominations in 2000, including Acoustic Blues Album Of The Year. His other albums were: 1965's Blues And Country Dance Tunes From Virginia (Arhoolie); 1966's John Jackson (Rounder); 1968's John Jackson, Vol. 2 (Arhoolie); 1970's John Jackson In Europe (Arhoolie); 1970's Don't Let Your Deal Go Down (Arhoolie); 1979's Step It Up & Go (Rounder); 1983's Deep In Bottom (Rounder); and 1999's compilation album, Country Blues & Ditties (Arhoolie).

Born in Rappahanock County, Virginia on February 25, 1924, John Jackson was the seventh son of 14 children. His parents were farmers as well as musicians who played parties on weekends and holidays. John first played around with his father's guitar at age four, and by eight he taught himself enough to accompany his parents at parties. His parents bought a second-hand Victrola when John was six, and John soaked up the sounds from the blues and country 78s by Blind Lemon Jefferson, Blind Blake, Blind Boy Fuller, Uncle Dave Macon and Jimmie Rodgers. Before he could learn to read or write, John had to drop out of school to work on the farm. He continued playing parties with his parents during the 1930s and 1940s but quit playing music a short time later. He felt music encouraged violent behavior, and he didn't want any part of it.

John moved to Fairfax County, Virginia in 1950 with his wife, Cora, and children to work on a dairy farm. A friend of John's, in need of some quick cash, pawned John his guitar, and John quietly started playing again. He became a gravedigger to support his family, occasionally pulling out his guitar for fun. One day, while John was playing guitar for some neighborhood kids, his mailman asked him for lessons. John agreed to meet him at the local gas station, where the mailman had a second job. While John was playing at the gas station, Chuck Perdue, the president of the Folklore Society of Greater Washington, pulled in for a fill-up. He heard John playing and knew that he had stumbled onto a true original. Within weeks, John was playing at coffeehouses in the Washington D.C. area, where he gradually regained all his old musical powers.

In April of 1965, John recorded songs for his first album for Arhoolie. He became an instant hit at blues festivals, easily winning a whole new generation of fans. Two more Arhoolie albums followed as John's reputation continued to grow. Two albums for Rounder kept Jackson busy on the international tour circuit. Besides constant trips to Europe, Jackson played Asia, Africa, South America, India and all over the United States. The National Endowment for the Arts awarded John their National Heritage Fellowship in 1986, giving official recognition to this giant of traditional blues.

1999        Front Porch Blues                Alligator
1999        Country Blues & Ditties (compilation)        Arhoolie
1983        Deep In Bottom                                Rounder
1979        Step It Up & Go                                Rounder
1970        Don't Let Your Deal Go Down                Arhoolie
1970        John Jackson In Europe                        Arhoolie
1968        John Jackson, Vol. 2                        Arhoolie
1966        John Jackson                                Rounder
1965        Blues And Country Dance Tunes From Virginia        Arhoolie


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Sacramento Blues Festival founder and promoter Phil Givant dies
Phil Givant, 66, the founder and promoter of the Sacramento Blues Festival from 1976 to 1993, passed away on Saturday, January 5th from complications of heart disease.

New York Times Recommends Alligator's 30th Collection
ALLIGATOR RECORDS: 30th-ANNIVERSARY COLLECTION "Alligator Records started as a way for a fan named Bruce Iglauer to make an album of the Mississippi bluesman Hound Dog Taylor. Thirty years later, its roster extends from its home in Chicago all the way to Australia. This set concentrates on the labels last decade, with one CD each of studio and live recordings. With muscular, no frills production, Alligator catches the blues as it melds with soul, rock, gospel country and zydeco, trying to party away the pains of love." --Jon Pareles New York Times.

Alligator Records, currently celebrating its 30th anniversary, has set a January 22, 2002 street date for new DELUXE EDITION CDs from Queen Of The Blues Koko Taylor and master guitarist/vocalist Son Seals. Both CDs contain the best from these two Chicago blues legends' Alligator catalogs and feature over 60 minutes of music, including one previously unreleased track on each release. DELUXE EDITION packaging includes never-before-published photos, a special mini-poster insert, and a fully annotated booklet, with liner notes by Alligator president Bruce Iglauer.


Koko Taylor - the undisputed Queen Of The Blues - infuses every song she sings with an instantly identifiable raw, soulful power. From her humble beginnings on a sharecropper's farm near Memphis to her current status as one of the greatest voices that the blues has ever produced, Taylor's story is an amazing 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.

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 gospel songs she heard in church, and 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.

When she was 18, Koko and her soon-to-be husband, the late Robert "Pops" Taylor, moved to Chicago. 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 cleaning house for a wealthy family in the ritzy northern suburbs. At night and on weekends, Koko and Pops 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, Wang Dang Doodle. That song firmly established Koko as one of the hottest new 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. 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 Bruce Iglauer's recently formed Alligator Records. Her first album for the label, I GOT WHAT IT TAKES, earned a Grammy(c) nomination. Since then, Koko's recorded seven more critically acclaimed albums for Alligator.

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(c) nominations for her last seven Alligator recordings and won a Grammy(c) in 1984 for the compilation album Blues Explosion on Atlantic. 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. And with no plans to slow down anytime soon (she continues to perform over 80 concerts a year worldwide) she will no doubt remain the undisputed Queen Of The Blues.

When guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Frank "Son" Seals unleashed his debut Alligator recording in 1973, his feral guitar work, scorching vocals and innovative songwriting immediately marked him as one of the major blues voices of his generation. At the time, many young blues players were simply covering the popular blues standards of the day. But Son was an original, writing most of his own material and playing his guitar with a fierce, raw intensity matched only by his ferocious vocals. His stature as a leading blues voice continues to grow with each new album, and today Seals is regarded as one of Chicago's - and the blues' - greatest artists.

Born in Osceola, Arkansas in 1942, Seals grew up immersed in the blues. His childhood home was a few rooms in the back of his father Jim's juke joint, The Dipsy Doodle (famous for blues in the front and dice in the back). With musicians like Sonny Boy Williamson, Albert King and Robert Nighthawk playing within earshot of his bed nearly every night, Son knew the blues before he began walking. Even with all the master bluesmen around the house, Son's father Jim was his greatest inspiration. Jim Seals had played piano, trombone, guitar and drums, touring with the famed Rabbit Foot Minstrels, the training ground of Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith. Because he was such a well-known musician, Jim was able to draw some of the biggest names to perform at his little club. When Son decided at an early age to become a musician like his father, Jim made sure Son would learn to do things right. "My father taught me everything from the start," Son recalls. "Tuning the guitar, fingering. Where I wanted to be riffing around all up and down the neck right away, he'd keep me on one chord for hours, until I could feel in it in my sleep. I'd get up the next morning, grab the guitar, and I'd be right on that chord."

By the time he was 13, Seals was an accomplished drummer, backing many of the artists who came through The Dipsy Doodle. At 18 he was leading his own band as a guitarist during the week and playing drums behind whomever was playing at his father's club on the weekends. Seals hit the road playing guitar with Earl Hooker in 1963, and soon after that as a drummer with Albert King (with whom he recorded the seminal Stax album Live Wire/Blues Power). He moved to Chicago in 1971 and began jamming with everyone from Junior Wells to Hound Dog Taylor to James Cotton and Buddy Guy. After Hound Dog Taylor's Alligator debut album hit and he began touring, Son took over Hound Dog's regular weekend gigs at The Expressway Lounge on Chicago's South Side.

Seals' debut album, THE SON SEALS BLUES BAND, established him as a groundbreaking new blues artist. Son's audience base grew as he began to tour, playing colleges, clubs and festivals across the country. His 1977 album, MIDNIGHT SON, was his true breakthrough. The album received widespread acclaim from every major music publication. On the strength of MIDNIGHT SON, Seals began what would become regular tours across the U.S.A. as well as repeated appearances in Europe. A strong series of six more successful Alligator releases followed through the 1980s and 1990s, growing Son's audience from a few hundred into many thousands. He became a favorite of critics everywhere. "Excellent modern blues," exclaimed Blues & Rhythm. Musician declared Seals delivers "performances of the most profound of the genre's most soulful exorcists." But it isn't just the critics. Fellow musicians - from inside and outside of the blues world - take notice of Seals' immense talents. Seals has shared stages with icons like B.B. King and Johnny Winter. Even the popular rock group Phish came calling, covering Seals' Funky Bitch on record and inviting the bluesman to join them on stage at many of their tour stops.

Son's reputation as a charismatic live performer and a fiercely individual songwriter has taken him from playing in small clubs to headlining international blues festivals. Over the course of his eight Alligator albums, Seals has emerged as one of Chicago's - and the world's - greatest bluesmen, and one of the genre's most powerful live performers. From his introduction as a hot young firebrand in 1973 to his current status as a leading voice of Chicago blues, Son Seals continues to blaze a blues trail that others will follow for years to come.


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Chicago Magazine presented Alligator Records president Bruce Iglauer with a coveted “Chicagoan Of The Year” award in a ceremony held at Chicago’s Four Seasons Hotel on January 16, 2002. The annual award, according to the magazine, is given to eight “remarkable men and women whose achievements have made Chicago a better place…people who claim that they are only doing their jobs when in fact they are blazing a trail into the 21st century." A profile of Iglauer, along with the seven other recipients, can be found in the January 2002 issue of the magazine.


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The Holmes Brothers' SPEAKING IN TONGUES Named to TOP 100
SPEAKING IN TONGUES, one of the most critically acclaimed albums of the year, is sitting pretty at #50 on's annual Top 100 list. In other news The Holmes Brothers are also in the Top 10 Blues Albums of 2001 list.

Holmes Brothers announcement
Easter D. Holmes, mother of Sherman and Wendell Holmes (of The Holmes Brothers), passed away Wednesday, October 17 following a lengthy illness.

Holmes Brothers announcement

Easter D. Holmes, mother of Sherman and Wendell Holmes (of The Holmes
Brothers), passed away Wednesday, October 17 following a lengthy illness.
Funeral arrangements for Easter D. Holmes are as follows:

Sat Oct 20    2pm
J. K. Redmond Funeral Home Route 33
PO Box 266
Shackleford, VA 23156
tel 804-785-3342

Donations can be made out to Grafton Baptist Church "in memory of Easter D. Holmes" and mailed to:
Pinkie Holmes
1309 Burke Ave
Bronx, NY 10469

The Holmes Brothers, who postponed the Scandinavian leg + the first weekend of the UK, will commence an extensive European tour next week in the UK. Two of the postponed UK dates have been rescheduled in early December. The tour will run from October 24 through December 2, and include shows in England, Ireland, Scotland, Holland, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, and Hungary.

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Grammy-nominated blues singer Shemekia Copeland appears on the Public Television program Austin City Limits. The show — which also features Jimmie Vaughan — first aired on November 17, 2001. In other Copeland news, the singer was named “Overseas Artist of the Year, Female” by Great Britain’s Blueprint magazine.


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The Chicago Chapter of the Recording Academy presented “Queen Of The Blues” Koko Taylor with a 2001 Chicago Heroes Award on December 5, 2001 in a ceremony held at Chicago’s Adler Planetarium. The evening consisted of presentations to the honorees followed by a live performance from some of Chicago’s most talented musicians.


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30th Anniversary Collection Reviewed in Boston Globe
Read Craig Harris' review of The Alligator Records 30th Anniversary Collection from The Boston Globe.