Keeping The Blues Alive – Blues Music Birthdays May 6 – May 13
This week’s blues birthdays feature musicians Amos “Bumble Bee” Slim, Robert Johnson, Joe Bonamassa, Dave Mason, Claude Trucks AKA Butch Trucks, Steve Winwood, Megan Lovell and Ana Popovic!
Amos “Bumble Bee Slim” Easton: 5/7/1905
Amos Easton was born in Brunswick, Georgia, and after a stint in the Ringling Brother’s circus, he settled in Chicago. It was in Chicago where Easton began recording with “Paramount Records.” It was a label known for recording 1920’s and 30’s jazz and blues artists such as Jelly Roll Morton. He adopted the moniker “Bumble Bee Slim.” He was known for playing “Piedmont Blues.” 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 started playing bar gigs.
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 and that is Robert Johnson! His iconic and exemplifying sound has an interesting story attached to his legacy that’s been retold many times. Supposedly, at a crossroads in Mississippi Johnson sold his soul to the devil in exchange for immense musical talent. Whether 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.”
Joe Bonamassa: 5/8/1977
There are a few saving graces that are keeping Blues music alive and well. Joe Bonamassa has been playing the blues professionally since age 12 when he exploded on the scene alongside B.B. King.
Since then he has not slowed down. He’s a human bullet train of the blues and releasing multiple albums per year with various groups and always touring . While on the road, Joe is an avid hunter; of guitars of course! The guitar safari is Joe’s favorite adventure because he gets to explore the countries most rare guitars and amps. Each guitar tells a unique story and Joe wants to hear them all!
Bonamassa is also a champion of music education and founder of the Keeping The Blues Alive Foundation. The organization puts on a yearly blues cruise which features upcoming music acts in the blues, Americana, and beyond. Bonamassa embodies a rare gem in the music world, he started an independent record label alongside his partner and manager Roy Weisman. After years of hard work, he is one of the most successful blues musicians on the scene! Happy Birthday Joe!
Dave Mason: 5/10/1946
Dave 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 part of their second album. 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 on a song. But Dave would come in with a complete song that he was going to sing. 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. Mason became friends with the blues powerhouse Jimi Hendrix and watched has his career bloomed in England in 1966. He appeared on the track “All Along the Watchtower,” providing 12-string guitar for the album Electric Ladyland.
Mason would play with other musicians like Fleetwood Mac, Eric Clapton, Dave Crosby, Michael Jackson, and others while maintaining his solo career. Despite his glowing credentials, Dave Mason never really hit the spotlight as a major solo musician.
Butch Trucks 5/11/1947
Butch Trucks is known as the time and beat keeper of the legendary Southern Rock jam band, The Allman Brothers. The band had a fluctuating lineup for many years before they officially disbanded in 2014. With band mate, drummer, Jaimoe, they developed a rhythm section that became The Allman Brothers sound for 45 years.
He’s 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.
Steve Winwood: 5/12/1948
Winwood is a world-renowned, multi-instrumentalist who has been a major name in the rock and blues worlds since the 60’s. Musicians will tell you that mastering just one instrument takes a life time. Winwood is an immense talent on piano, guitar, mandolin, violin and other instruments. Throughout his influential career he has remained a highly sought-after session musician and live collaborator. He has worked with Jimi Hendrix, George Harrison, David Gilmore and former Blind Faith band mate Eric Clapton. He also fronted the popular band “Traffic,” a group which helped to put him on the map and solidify a successful solo career. Lastly, Steve Winwood is also a multi-time Grammy winner and inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Megan Lovell – 5/12/1989
Megan Lovell is one half of the 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. They have also 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 cool slide guitar chops and lovely backing vocals on Larkin Poe’s soothing yet driving blues and Americana tunes. With their latest release gaining praise from critics and fans, this band is becoming a force in music.
Ana Popovic – 5/13/1976
The talented Miss Popovic was born in Belgrade, Serbia to a musical family who pushed her to follow her dreams. Her dreams led her to become a blues shredder who can keep up with the great blues guitarist around today. 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 many current blues musician around today. She has eleven studio albums with many accolades under her belt!
Help us with our mission of Keeping the Blues Alive in schools! To learn more or donate to Keeping The Blues Alive, visit our website at http://keepingthebluesalive.org/