Amos “Bumble Bee Slim” Easton: 5/7/1905
Amos Easton was born in Brunswick, Georgia, and after a minor stint in the Ringling Brother’s circus which led him to Indianapolis, he finally settled in Chicago in the early 1930’s. It was in Chicago where Easton began recording with “Paramount Records” (known for recording 1920’s and 30’s jazz and blues artists such as Jelly Roll Morton and King Oliver) and adopted the moniker “Bumble Bee Slim.” He was known for playing “Piedmont Blues” which utilizes the bass notes with the thumb and finger picking the treble notes. The rhythmic tones of this style were developed and inspired from older rag-time jazz music. Bumble Bee wrote songs in a jovial and whimsical nature, which was calming to his listeners during the great depression. After recording over 150 tunes for various labels, Easton became overwhelmed from being hindered by record labels and resorted to playing a few bar gigs once in a while.
Robert Johnson: 5/8/1911
The blues stretches back all the way to the days of slavery when the workers would sing “work songs” in the fields. The actual origin is rather cloudy, but we always cite one person as a major pioneer of the genre who is still credited as an influence by anyone who is interested in the music: Robert Johnson.
Besides his iconic and exemplifying sound, Johnson has an interesting story attached to his legacy that has been retold many times. Supposedly, at a crossroads in Mississippi Johnson sold his soul to the devil in exchange for immense musical talent.
If you believe this folklore or not, Johnson has been a major inspiration to multiple generations of musicians is always cited as a role model. Also, he was one of the first members of the 27 club, having passed away due to “unknown causes.”
Dave Mason: 5/10/1946
There are many cases where very talented musicians appear on many albums as studio musicians and even tour with a few bands here and there but unfortunately don’t really have that one defining break in their career. That is the story of Dave Mason who has very impressive credentials under his belt and a steady but somewhat mediocre solo career.
Mason got his first major start by co-founding a little psychedelic rock band named Traffic along with Steve Winwood. He appeared on their first album Mr. Fantasy supplying guitar parts and random other instruments and was on half of their second self-titled album as well. However, Mason never really fit in with the dynamic of the rest of the band. Steve Winwood recalls that “the rest of the band would write together, but Dave would come in with a complete song that he was going to sing and tell us all what he expected us to play. No discussion, like we were his backing group.”
Obviously, this didn’t bode too well for Mason and his tenure with Traffic was sort-lived.
After this, he would add his talents on various other albums and appear on stage with many other great musicians. In the mid-sixties, Mason had a steady friendship with the blues powerhouse Jimi Hendrix and watched has his career bloomed in England in 1966. Mason actually appeared on the track “All Along the Watchtower,” providing 12-string guitar for the album Electric Ladyland.
Over the next few years, Mason would play with other musicians like Fleetwood Mac, Eric Clapton, Dave Crosby, Michael Jackson, and others while also maintaining his solo career. Despite his glowing credentials, Dave Mason never really hit the spotlight as a major solo musician.
Claude Trucks AKA Butch Trucks: 5/11/1947
Butch Trucks is primarily known as the time and beat keeper of the legendary Southern Rock tinged and pioneering jam band, The Allman Brothers. The band had a fluctuating lineup for many years before they officially disbanded in 2014, but Butch remained on for a majority of their tenure.
Together with fellow band mate, drummer, and percussionist Jaimoe, the two developed a dynamic rhythm section that had remained crucial to The Allman Brothers sound for 45 years. He is also the uncle of former band mate and slide guitar virtuoso Derek Trucks, currently of The Tedeschi Trucks Band. Aside from his musical proclivities, Butch Trucks has had a longstanding interest in both literature and philosophy. Sadly, Butch passed away at his Florida home in January of 2017. You will be greatly missed Mr. Trucks!
Steve Winwood: 5/12/1948
Winwood is a world-renowned, superbly talented multi-instrumentalist who has been a major name in the rock and blues worlds since the 60’s. Most musicians will tell you that mastering just one instrument takes a life time; Winwood has showcased his immense talent on piano, guitar, mandolin, violin and other instruments, on top of having a striking and iconic classic rock voice. Throughout his influential career he has remained a highly sought-after session musician and live collaborator and has worked with the likes of The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Toots & the Maytals, Christine McVie, George Harrison, David Gilmore, Billy Joel, Slash, and numerous times with former Blind Faith band mate Eric Clapton. He also fronted the popular band “Traffic,” a psychedelic-rock group which helped to put him on the map and solidify a successful solo career. If these achievements are not enough, Steve Winwood is also a multi-time Grammy winner and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Megan Lovell – 5/12/1989
Megan Lovell is one half of the gorgeous and superbly talented blues-rock and roots duo Larkin Poe. Together with her sister Rebecca, the band has become a recognizable presence in the blues community and has appeared at many notable festivals including a two-year feature on Joe Bonamassa’s KTBA cruise. In fact, the fans love them so much that they were invited for a third year!
Megan adds her cool and tasty slide guitar chops and lovely backing vocals on Larkin Poe’s soothing yet driving blues and Americana tunes. With their latest 2017 release gaining high praise from critics and fans alike, this band is on their way to becoming a strong force in music.
Ana Popovic – 5/13/1976
The lovely and talented Miss Popovic was born in Belgrade, Serbia to a music-loving family who always pushed her to follow her dreams. Well, her dreams led her to become a standout shredder who can hang with many of the great blues guitarists of the day.
After her band Hush disbanded in 1998, Popovic went head first into her solo career and hasn’t stopped since. She has shared the stage with any current blues musician you can name and is up to her 11th studio album with many awards and accolades under her belt. She isn’t considered an up and comer anymore but instead is known as a high quality guitar player and respected musician.