Archives for posts with tag: Blues Music

Marion James also talks about music back in the day and Jimi Hendrix.

Marion James,

Marion James, “Nashville’s Queen of the Blues” sings “24 Hours A Day” at Metro 50th Concert, photo – Brad Hardisty

This Sunday, September 6th, will mark the 32nd Annual Musician’s Reunion at The Bourbon Street Blues and Boogie Bar in Printers Alley. Nearly a full day event, music will be starting at 3pm with the doors opening 30 minutes early. This year there will be over 20 Artists from Nashville’s storied past Jefferson Street scene to current up and coming Blues, Rhythm & Blues, Gospel and Soul.

Featured Artists will be recently signed nationally known Nashville act The Andy T Nick Nixon Band [Alligator Records] as well as local favorite Jack Pearson and many others.

Marion James - Nashville's Queen of the Blues at 30th reunion, photo - Brad Hardisty

Marion James – Nashville’s Queen of the Blues at 30th reunion, photo – Brad Hardisty

The first Musician’s Reunion show that celebrated the heyday of the Jefferson Street Sound and honored those that had passed away during the year was so popular the first time that it has become an annual event.Marion James “Nashville’s Queen Of The Blues” spearheads the event with the support of the Nashville Blues Music Community. Marion James is known for having Jimi Hendrix in her backing band back in the day as well as the top ten hit “That’s My Man” [Excello]. That song was re-released on 7 inch vinyl with the original Excello label on Record Store Day in 2014 in England and sold out quick. Copies can be found occasionally through Ebay as well as all of Marion James catalog .

marion James Hound DogMarion James went on to release a couple more singles with songs written by Larry Lee [Jimi Hendrix – Gypsys, Suns and Rainbows] who performed with Jimi at Woodstock as well as long time Jimi Hendrix bassist Billy Cox who also worked with Marion back in the day.

Marion James thats my manMarion has recorded a string of CD’s over the last two decades and continues to perform at special events around Nashville. Marion discussed a little of this and a little of that with The Nashville Bridge.

Brad Hardisty / The Nashville Bridge: How many years have you done the Annual Musicians Reunion Show?

Marion James: This is the 32nd.

Regi Wooten at 2013 Musicians Reunion, photo - Brad Hardisty

Regi Wooten at 2013 Musicians Reunion, photo – Brad Hardisty

TNB: What was your favorite one that you did, what year?

MJ: Well, my favorite one was the first one.

TNB: What drives you to put these shows together?

MJ: I’m just used to it. I’ve been in show business for practically all my life. My husband [Buzz Stewart], he was a Musician and also an Arranger. So, it inspired me to go on to sing in the music field.

TNB: How many records did you actually have out? Has it been three singles and several albums in the last ten or twenty years?

Marion James find out what you wantMJ: Yeah, about three singles. The rest of them were CD’s. Not records.

TNB: What are your favorite songs to sing right now?

MJ: There is one of them that I am looking forward to recording again before this year’s out. It’s one of my friends who has been into the music for a long, long time. He sung this song and it was a hit called “I Need your Love So Bad” by Little Willie John. I really like that tune.

TNB: Little Willie John, cool! You’ll have some originals as well that you are working on?

John Richards at 30th Musicians Reunion, photo - Brad Hardisty

John Richards at 30th Musicians Reunion, photo – Brad Hardisty

MJ: Yes, I have. I’ve got two songs that I have wrote.

TNB: What’s been your favorite time, musically, in Nashville? Do you like it now or did you prefer it back in the 60’s or 70’s?

MJ: I liked the 60’s and the 70’s. If you are speaking of music, some of these songs that they’re singing now, they are getting’ away with a lot. I mean, back in the day we had to sing the melody right and the songs tell a story. But nowadays, you got a few that will get up and take one line and sing it one line all the way through and get away with it. But, back in the day we didn’t do that. We sung our songs and we played our music.

TNB: Back in the day, I know that’s a theme that brings back to memory the Jefferson Street scene. You also recorded a song called “Back In The Day” a couple of years ago. Do you remember how it was when there were a lot of clubs and a lot of things were going on?

MJ: Yes, it was very much active. You had a lot of musicians and there had been a lot of vocalists that was doin’ it at that time.

TNB: You could probably go see somebody play live about every night back then.

Debbie Bond, photo - Brad Hardisty

Debbie Bond, photo – Brad Hardisty

MJ: Yeah, they had a club just about every other block on Jefferson Street back in the day. They had a different act in each club. You went in and you really enjoyed it because it wasn’t the same thing all the time. So, if you go out on the weekend and say “Well, I’m goin’ clubbin’,” you could start from 6th and Jefferson all the way out to 31st in Centennial which was a Dinner Club. There was a different act all the way.

TNB: Wow. What were some of the big names that you really liked listening to?

MJ: There was Little Richard, Otis Redding and Hank Crawford was going to school at Tennessee State University. On Sunday, Hank would have the jam session at 28th and Jefferson in a little Restaurant there they called Hayes Rendezvous and all the students would go there at three o clock on Sunday and they would have a jam. All the musicians would come in and play. There was a musician, Charlie Dungers, that would play up and down Jefferson Street and he was great. He went away from here for a while and he was playing all over Europe and then he decided to come back home and play his music and also he taught at Tennessee State University. I think it was strange he was still teachin’.

TNB: I remember now that you’ve told me about Jimi Hendrix playing with your band back then for a while. Do you have any funny stories that you remember?

MJ: Well there are a whole lot of things about Jimi that were peculiar about him that we laugh about. So really, Jimi he was kind. One of the habits, I guess it’s natural for a person to do it but, I noticed that he never did like to wear no shoes. He would just walk barefooted you know.

TNB: I’d heard that he carried his guitar around either without a case or in a paper bag or something. He didn’t ever have a guitar case.

marion james night trainMJ: Yeah, yeah, he did odd things like that. He really did, you know. Like I said, he was a nice guy, very nice to go around with also. He was on the quiet side. I don’t know how you would say it but he never was a person that was always on a run all the time. He was just calm and quiet, you know.

TNB: Now when he got on stage though he kind of commanded the stage quite a bit, didn’t he?

MJ: Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes, he did.

TNB: He liked to show off a little bit I guess.

Samuel L. Dismuke Jr., 30th Annual Musicians Reunion Show photo - Brad Hardisty

Samuel L. Dismuke Jr., 30th Annual Musicians Reunion Show photo – Brad Hardisty

MJ: He loved to show off and play that guitar. He came up with that act with trying to play the guitar with his mouth and all like that. He was a pretty good showman, you know.

TNB: Who are you looking forward to playing at the Musician’s Reunion show that is coming up?

MJ: I’m looking at Jack Pearson and Scott Holt. They are my two favorites when it comes to playing guitar. Jack Pearson was on one of my CD’s that I recorded. He did a marvelous job.

TNB: Do you think you will get up and sing with Jack Pearson?

Courtesy Marion James

Courtesy Marion James

MJ: Oh yes, I mean, you know, if it comes to that, I think I can cover it.

  • Brad Hardisty Nashville, TN
Advertisements
Debbie Bond, photo - Thomas Z'Graggen

Debbie Bond, photo – Thomas Z’Graggen

“The last thing Willie King said to me was, “Keep on pushing Debbie!” – Debbie Bond

Debbie Bond will be playing for the first time tonight in Nashville at The Nashville Blues and Jazz Awards  that begins at 4PM with a $10 door at Bourbon Street Blues and Boogie Bar and is presented by The Marion James Musicians Aid Society to benefit the heritage musicians that lived and worked around the Jefferson Street community in the R&B heyday from about 1950 through the mid-70’s.

debbie bond album coverDebbie’s most recent album Hearts Are Wild got a thumbs up from the Nashville Blues Society last year after its release. Hearts Are Wild is Debbie’s second solo album and her first since Willie King passed away in 2008.

Debbie, as well as her husband Rick had been a part of Willie King’s band for several years playing in and around Alabama as well as touring Europe.

Debbie Bond has also spent several years developing The Alabama Blues Project that educates young and not so young children about blues music and gives them the opportunity to develop the skills to play blues music.

Debbie feels that Alabama has never received the recognition that it deserves in relation to the development of Blues and American music. Essentially, Alabama really is joined at the hip with Mississippi and there was a lot of cross-state-lines intermingling goings on from the very beginning.

Brad Hardisty/ The Nashville Bridge: How long have you been living and playing the Blues in Alabama?

Debbie Bond:  Thirty years. I actually came here in 1979.

TNB: Was it originally to work with Johnny Shines?

Debbie Bond, photo - Robert Sutton

Debbie Bond, photo – Robert Sutton

DB: It wasn’t.  It was just to visit some friends and I was kind of going through some heartache stuff in England and I…uh…originally it was just to come for the summer to get away. But, one thing lead to another and well… included hooking up with Johnny Shines (A contemporary of Robert Johnson).

TNB: You were playing guitar at the time?

DB: Yeah, I was playing guitar. I really started off playing acoustic guitar. I was playing folk songs and I love the blues. I was in a band in England when I was in College in ’75 through 1978 and we played that music in Brighton, England. So, when I came here, you know, I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into.  I had a lot of prejudices about Alabama and Alabama culture and the south.  I had my mind blown by the music and the food and the southern culture.  I was humbled. I was brought to my knees. I ended up staying.

TNB: I was kind of the same way. I thought the south would be a certain way and it was totally different than I figured.  So, the last project that you were in was a group before you went solo and that was playing with Willie King, right?

Debbie Bond onstage with Willie King

Debbie Bond onstage with Willie King

DB: Yeah, the last band and probably the most serious musical situation that I was in was with Willie King for the last seven years of his life. I toured and recorded with him. Rick, my husband is British and before I married him he had hooked up with Willie and Willie introduced me to Rick. Willie was the best man at my wedding and we married at Freedom Creek and so I have Willie to thank for that big time besides the musical experience and so that was a really big blues experience in my life.

TNB: Did Willie meet Rick overseas?

DB: No, he met Rick here. This is a crazy story but Rick was in Clarksdale, Mississippi and went into Jim O’Neal’s little shop downtown and asked where there was he could hear some blues tonight and they said, “Well, there’s no blues here.” But, because of the connection to Jim O’Neal, a lady who ran the record store and also sold kind of voodoo stuff, said, “There is the Freedom Creek festival over in Alabama tonight.” Rick actually drove all the way to Pickens County, Alabama, which was four and a half hours away. He ran into somebody who didn’t know where The Freedom Creek Festival was and sent him all the way to Tuscaloosa which was another hour out of the way. Rick happened to see my notice and directions in the local record store, Oz Records in Tuscaloosa, then drove all the way back, I mean, then ended up driving into the Festival. His mind was blown. He ended up…Willie said. “Stay.” Rick stayed with Willie camping out there and staying in his trailer and went on the road with Willie and toured just like that. Rick plays harmonica and keyboards.

TNB: What year was that?

DB: That was in 2002 and then we met. I think we went on one date then moved in together and then we got married and Willie was our best man. We married on Freedom Creek and had our wedding ceremony there and then had our party at the local juke joint.

TNB: So, in 2008 you started working on Hearts Are Wild?

Debbie Bond, photo - Robin McDonald

Debbie Bond, photo – Robin McDonald

DB: Yeah, I just started focusing on my own music. I was running the Alabama Blues Project. I founded the Alabama Blues Project and I really just wanted to do my own thing for a change.  The last thing Willie King said to me was, “Keep on pushing Debbie!” I just really wanted to do my own music. So, I kind of got the Blues Project on its own feet. We still do things with the Blues Project, but, we just tried to focus on my own music and eventually we ended up putting out Hearts Are Wild. I think our official release date was 2012.

TNB: Have you toured overseas since the release date?

DB: Yeah, we played over in the Tarragona Blues Festival and also we played in England and France actually. When it first came out we played a show in France and also at a radio station then a show in England. The Tarragona Blues Festival is in Spain.  We are actually going back to play the festival again in November. I’ve written a song called “Tarragona Blues.”

TNB: So, that is where you are establishing your crowd?

DB: Well, it just so happens, you know how things kind of fall into place. I don’t have a booking agent, so, I am just kind of doing things myself as they come along through Facebook really. Facebook has been really great for me. So, it just so happened that we were going to be in Spain and we were going to be in Europe and The Tarragona Festival just fell into place. I mean it was so synchronistic on the only dates we could possibly do it. So, we did it and they really loved the show. They loved us and are having us back. We are definitely building an audience there and I’m hoping I can release the song, “Tarragona Blues” which I wrote the night before the festival and played at the festival. They really enjoyed it. I want to record it and release it in Spain as a single.

TNB: Are they getting into buying vinyl in Europe like we are in the States?

DB: I don’t know.The fact of the matter is times are hard in Spain like they are in other parts of Europe. Maybe not as bad as Greece, but, it still is hard times. So, I don’t know the answer to that.

TNB: As far as releases. Are they buying songs on the web or do they want product?

DB: I find most people are buying CD’s at shows. You know the web is great for promoting, but, I haven’t found that with my audience. My audience seems to like the real CD.

TNB: Yeah, it seems like here in the states we have a lot of hardcore vinyl collectors now.

DB: I’m hearing that.  If I could get just a little bit more on the map and more successful, I would definitely consider putting out a vinyl recording.

TNB: Yeah, it seems like even in limited runs a lot of bands are doing it here in Nashville because we have United Record Pressing. They used to press all of Motown. They have a Motown Suite upstairs in the plant. They are pressing a big portion of what is being done right now.

DB: That’s good to know. I know there is a way to go back to vinyl and I have all my records and we do listen to our records on our record player.

TNB: I’m actually buying more vinyl than I do CD’s right now.

DB: I am hearing that from the record stores. I am going to definitely take that into consideration. But, at this stage in the game I just think it’s so affordable to do CD’s.

TNB: Okay, you have never played Nashville before. Have you played in Tennessee before, maybe, Memphis?

DB: I have not played in Memphis.

TNB: So, this is your first gig in Tennessee.

DB: Yeah it is.

TNB: You are also going to be playing on the Mando Blues Radio Show on Monday.

DB: I’m really looking forward to it. I’m hoping you can make it.

TNB: What are you looking forward to the most about being in Nashville?

Debbie Bond, Rick on keys, photo - Robin McDonald

Debbie Bond, Rick on keys, photo – Robin McDonald

DB: I feel like it’s an adventure. I have great sympathy for Nashville because I think it is kind of like Alabama. People don’t think of the blues when they think of Nashville and the fact that there is this really cool blues culture is exciting to me. I fell like it is an honor to be part of the line-up at The Nashville Blues and Jazz Awards that includes Marion James and all these veteran blues musicians. I’m really thankful and excited to be part of it.

– Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN     thenashvillebridge@hotmail.com