Keeping The Blues Alive

Blues Birthdays: July 15 – July 21

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Robert Brown AKA Washboard Sam: 7/15/1910

Here is an instrument you probably wouldn’t associate with blues today: washboard. Robert Brown AKA Washboard Sam was a blues singer and washboard player. The date and origin of his birth are a mystery, with historians guessing that he was born in either Tennessee or Arkansas. His popularity peaked in the later 40’s and he sold many records and ‘recorded over 160 tracks.’ As the development of electric blues occurred in the 1950’s, Sam struggled to adapt and to keep audiences interested.

Jason Bonham: 7/15/1966

A rock and blues drummer from England. He is probably best linked to his iconic, late father and drummer of Led Zeppelin, John Bonham. Jason is a fabulous drummer in his own right and honors his father really well. Over the years, he has played with many great bands and artists including Paul Rodgers, Foreigner, and UFO. He also toured with a Led Zeppelin Experience band, covering songs from the legendary band and even performed a few reunion shows with the original members. Now, he is the drummer of the blues-rock band Black Country Communion with Joe Bonamassa and Glenn Hughes.

Jalacy Hawkins AKA Screamin’ Jay Hawkins: 7/18/1929

Classifying Screamin’ Jay is rather challenging. It can be considered blues, RnB, rock and roll, or other genres. One thing is certain, at the time no one was performing shows or singing quite like him. With his unique use of props, eccentric stage performances, and shout-singing, he was the beginning of shock rock. He caught people off guard, but they loved it. Since his time, musicians like Alice Cooper and Marilyn Manson have taken over on the crazy theatrical music performance front, but “the great granddaddy of all Halloween rock n rollers who would come along to shock and scare us was Screamin Jay Hawkins.

Lonnie McIntosh AKA Lonnie Mack: 7/18/1941

Widely regarded as one of the most important guitarists in rock and roll history. His pioneering work with the instrument stemmed from his lightning fast picking and revolutionary use of the whammy bar (nicknamed after his revered tune “Wham!”). With his cherished 1963 singles “Memphis” and the aforementioned “Wham!”, Mack practically ushered in what would be known as blues rock all on his own, though he has also visited the likes of country, rockabilly, Southern rock and more throughout his lengthy career. His work with the guitar would go on to influence Jeff Beck, Duane Allman, Dickey Betts, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Ted Nugent, and Stevie Ray Vaughan. Lonnie Mack recently passed on April 21, 2016.

Buster Benton: 7/19/1932

Blues singer and guitar player from Arkansas. He was best known for his time in Willie Dixon’s band the Blues-All-stars and for his solo version of the tune “spider in my stew.” He had a unique style of what was referred to as Chicago blues and was very “tenacious despite the amputation of both legs.” Although he did not see much mainstream commercial success, Benton had a long musical career until he passed away in 1996, in Chicago. 




Carlos Santana: 7/20/1947

The undisputed champion and pioneer of Latin American and Rock fusion music. Santa has been performing since he exploded on the scene in the late 60’s. His band (also called Santana) saw early success, and really gained respect and recognition at the 1969 Wood Stock Festival when he was just 22 years old! Santana continues to raise the bar and has collaborated with many different musicians in a wide range of genres. At almost 70 years old, the fiery Latin guitarist is still touring and tearing it up on his signature PRS electric.

Patrick Ortiz


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