Erskine Oglesby gained a strong reputation within his hometown St. Louis, Missouri Born in St. Louis in 1937, Erskine played with nearly everyone who had a name in his hometown He started out at the age of l4 on piano with no less a performer than Chuck Berry. Still the sax was and remained his choice instrument throughout.
When he finished his military service in the US Air Force in November 1957, Erskine got in touch with Billy Gayles’ band and started out as a professional musician. Over the years he played with the likes of Albert King, Ike & Tina Turner, Little Milton, Billy Gayles, Eugene Neal and Benny Sharp, as well as with local jazz acts. He just didn’t want to limit himself to blues (Because I enjoy it all!), he told the St. Louis Blues Society. In 90’s he also visited Europe as a member of the St. Louis Kings of Rhythm and on more than one occasion he played with other St. Louis acts at the renowned Bluesestafette in Utrecht
His taste for diversity also shows on his two records for Black & Tan Records. The music he picked ranges from straight jump blues to jazzy instrumentals.
For a sense of the blues at its most tangible, one needs to look no further than singer/guitarist Percy Strother, who triumphed over incredible tragedy to create music of genuine pain and sorrow. Born July 23, 1946 in Vicksburg, Mississippi, he was still a child when his father died violently; his mother passed away shortly afterward, and rather than submitting to life in an orphanage,
Strother simply took to the road. He drifted from job to job for a number of years, all the while fighting a battle with alcoholism; discovering the blues turned his life around, however, and after sobering up he began teaching himself guitar, honing his chops in virtual anonymity before recording his debut LP A Good Woman Is Hard to Find in 1992. The Highway Is My Home followed in 1995, and in 1997 Strother returned with It’s My Time. He toured Europe several times and recorded Home at Last there, which saw release in 2001. A legend in his adopted home of Minneapolis, Percy Strother was diagnosed with liver cancer and passed away May 29, 2005.
Guitarist/singer Roscoe Chenier was born November 6, 1941 in the hamlet of Notleyville, just east of Opelousas. Though his family of sharecroppers was poor in material posses-sions, it was musically rich in talent. Related to both zydeco demigod, Clifton Chenier, and bluesman Morris ‘Big’ Chenier, his father Arthur ‘Bud’ Chenier was his main inspiration. Bud, a cajun accordionist, accompanied by his first cousin and fiddler John Stevens, the father of Duke Stevens, was widly popular, as he often would entertain at weekend house parties. “As a youngster, I’d just soak up the music”, Roscoe said.
His vocal gift manifested itself early, as he was invited in 1958 to join one of the hottest traveling bands in the territory; C.D and the Blue Runners, which featured three Gradnier brothers on harmonica, drums and bass and Lonesome Sundown on lead guitar. Roscoe remained with CD for over a dozen years, until 1970 and despite the British Invasion, still managed to find enough work to keep the blues alive. Things in the black com- munity changed and it was difficult earning a living, especially when the gigs were paying $6 per man per night. And, Roscoe began a succession for day jobs as a truck driver in order to make ends meet.
In the 70’s Roscoe led a rather peripatetic existence as a bluesman, drifting from band to band, finding gigs catch as catch can. for a year and a half, he served with Good Rockin’ Thomas and thereafter a hitch with Good Rockin’ Bob. Often he was a “hired gun” for artists like Lonesome Sundown and Clarence Randle. The final chapter of this itinerant period of Roscoe’s life was a three year stretch with local horn man Duke Stevens, who like Charles Tyler, also had a hit on Lee Lavergne’s Lanor label in the 60’s “I’ve been your fool.”
By 1980, Roscoe finally was his own man, leading his own band, shaped in his image. During the years he had some great players in his band and allthough some of them “retired” Roscoe always managed to attract capable replacements. Since that date, it’s been a long hard struggle to remain financially independent. And he’s tried various means, including recording, to jump start his career. Roscoe Chenier and his band appeared at the Blues Estafette in 1992, 1993, 1996, 1998 and 2001. He also performed at the very prestigous North Sea Jazz Festival in the Hague. Roscoe Chenier toured Europe regularly and performed on several major blues festivals. Roscoe’s last two releases are “Roscoe Style” (1998) and “Waiting For My Tomorrow” (2006).
Way back in the South, turnip greens were considered a simple daily fare for the countryside folks. This same simplicity is also to be found in the music of Turnip Greens. Turnip Greens are five seasoned musicians from Arhus, Denmark. Their music is a unique blend of several musical styles from the southern states of the US.
They are influenced by Tom Waits, Dr. John, Delbert McClinton, Elvis, The Meters, B.B. King, Solomon Burke, Daniel Lanois, Ry Cooder, Doyle Bramhall II, Bob Dylan, Taj Mahal, Muddy Waters, The Black Keys and many more. Without a doubt the geographical distance between Denmark and the US is the reason for the fresh and original approach to the music. At the same time you hear exactly where they are coming from and in the music you hear a deep respect for ‘the masters’ and ‘the tradition’. Also vocal harmonies play an important role in their music. With a repertoire that consists of mostly original material
Turnip Greens are making their way into the roots & blues music tradition of New Orleans. The band performed on several major European festivals like Bluesnacht Idar-Oberstein (D), Blues Balls Festival in Luzern (CH), Austrian Blues Masters, Stadfest Steyr (A) and Blues Autour du Zinc in Beauvais (F).
Vocalist/harmonicaplayer Big George Jackson was born November 16, 1949 and in the Twin Cities he is known as the Authentic big man of the blues. He sings with a distinctive bass-rich voice only a six-foot, six inch gentle giant could be blessed with. Add his fat harmonica playing, dead-on phrasing, commanding stage-presence and instant audience rapport and it’s easy to understand why the audience howl when he delivers his music.
The band features two great guitarists: Jeremy Johnson (formely with Mischo) and Phil Schmid (formely with Lynwood Slim) combine tough-as-nails interplay that can alternate between being greasy, swinging and raunchy The band writes its own music, with lyrics written by Big George and they also cover songs by Jimmy Reed, Walter Hornton, Muddy Waters and Big Leon Brooks. In 1998 the band released a CD Beggin Ain’t for Me on Black and Tan Records and in 2001 their second Black and Tan CD. The CD is titled Big Shot. Critics praised Big George’s CD for originality and welcome sense of humor. The Big George Jackson Band is considered to be a great up and coming band and is developing a fast growing following in spite of the incredibly competitive live music scene.
Big George has been working for Minnesgasco, the local gas company in Minneapolis. He has raised six children while pursuing his night-time career as a blues musician. His first european tour took place in November >99 and it was a huge success. Most of the venues had a large crowd and at the bluesfestivals in Luzern (Switzerland) and Unna (Germany) Big George proved to be one of the surprises of the event. During their european tour in April/May 2000 the band performed at he Moulin Blues Festival in Ospel (NL) and at the bluesfestivals of Silkeborg and Odense (DK). The band did two more succesfull european tours in March and November 2001. On the last tour they performed on the Lucerne Blues Festival (CH) and on the Blues Estafette (NL), two of the major blues events in Europe. They also did a live show on national Dutch tv.
In 2002 they performed at the Belgian Rhythm & Blues Festival in Peer (Belgium) and the Colne Bluesfestival in the UK and in 2003 they played at the International Jazzfestival in Montreal (Canada) and Nancy Jazz Pulsations (France). In October 2003 they released their third CD (Southern In My Soul) for Black and Tan Records.
Boo Boo Davis is a survivor and belongs to the last generations of musicians that write and play the blues based on first hand experience of a hard life in the Mississippi Delta. He was born and raised in Drew, Mississippi in the heart of Delta. It was the richest cotton land in the South and the large amounts of field workers attracted the best musicians from the surrounding areas. The entire Delta region was rich with blues, but the town of Drew was a particularly fertile one. Charley Patton stayed near Drew for many years and several legendary performers spent time there. Sharecroppers sang loudly to help pass the grueling hours of work and without a doubt Boo Boo developed his loud, bellowing voice based on the singing he heard in the fields as a young boy. In fact, that voice, through the years has demolished many amps and speaker cabinets.
Boo Boo’s father, Sylvester Davis farmed cotton and played several instruments. Musicians who he played with include John Lee Hooker, Elmore James and Robert Pete Williams. Boo Boo remembers these and other musicians dropping by and rehearsing at their house. At the age of five Boo Boo was playing the harmonica and singing in church with his mother. By thirteen he was playing guitar, and by eighteen he was playing out with his father and older brothers under the name of The Lard Can Band. This band travelled all throughout the Delta. In the early sixties he went north to St Louis and was around during the heyday of the St Louis music scene (Albert King, Ike Turner, Chuck Berry and many others). Together with his brothers they were the weekend house band in Tabby’s Red Room in East St Louis for eighteen years.
Even though Boo Boo moved north to St. Louis, he will always be a southerner at heart. When he is at home (and not performing) his favorite pastimes are hunting with his dogs and fishing. During Boo Boo’s childhood there was no time or money for him to go to school so he never learned to read and write. However that did not prevent him to travel all over the world. Following his guiding spirit (that he calls Dave) Boo Boo has found a way to deal with modern society. The blues helps him to keep his spirit high and survive day-to-day life. It deals with all the basic raw elements of life; good and bad, plain and simple.
His first European tour took place in April 2000 and since then Boo Boo is touring Europe at least twice a year. So far Boo Boo has released 10 albums on Black and Tan Records and all of them were very well received. Number 4 (DREW, MISSISSIPPI) was listed with the 10 best blues records of 2006 by MOJO Magazine (UK). In 2007 Boo Boo was invited to perform on the POCONO BLUES FESTIVAL, one of the biggest blues festivals in the USA and in March 2007 Boo Boo performed live on CBC Radio One, national radio in Canada.
What started as a crazy idea after the European tour of Boo Boo in October 2007 has turned out to be not too crazy at all. On the Spring Tour of 2008 they decided to leave out the bass and tour as a trio: Boo Boo Davis on vocals & harmonica, John Gerritse on drums and Jan Mittendorp on guitar. This trio has been touring Europe extensively; the last few years they did over 400 shows in more then twenty different countries including a lot of the big European blues & jazz festivals (North Sea Jazz, Montreux, Peer, Juan les Pins, Rother BluesTage, Amal, Olstzyn).
Boo Boo’s music has been featured on Fox Sports and several US tv series like Sons of Anarchy, Suits and Banshee.