In 2005, Severn released The Chicago Blues Harmonica Project’s Diamonds In the Rough featuring Dusty Brown, Larry Cox, Harmonica Khan #1, Russ Green, Little Addison and Omar Coleman. The project was intended to show that blues harmonica was alive and well in Chicago contrary to what was written and widely believed.
Due to its overwhelming response, we decided to shine the spotlight on six more Chicago harmonica talents deserving of wider recognition: the late Little Arthur Duncan, Harmonica Hinds, Charlie Love, Reginald Cooper, Jeff Taylor and Russ Green. The result is More Rare Gems.
Both projects highlight members of the backing band, The Chicago Bluesmasters featuring Twist Turner, Max Brumbach, Rick Kreher, Illinois Slim and E.G. McDaniel
DIAMONDS IN THE ROUGH
Dusty Brown: Dusty relocated from Mississippi to Chicago in 1946 and recorded for the Parrot label (“He Don’t Love You”). In 1975 he opened the now defunct Dusty’s Lounge which featured many of the area greats including friend Sunnyland Slim.
Omar Coleman: Representing a newer generation of harp layers, Omar is still active on the Chicago blues scene. Credits include playing with the Kinsey Report, John Primer & the Real Deal Blues Band, and the late-great Chico Banks.
Russ Green: Here’s another member of the younger generation carrying forward the blues tradition. Russ has shared the stage with the likes of Buddy Guy, John Primer, Sammy Fender, Dave Myers, Johnny Mars and many others.
Larry Cox: Larry’s resume includes stints with Lewis and Dave Myers as well as longstanding club dates at famed Theresa’s Lounge and Checkerboard Lounge.
Little Addison: In the late 50’s, Little Addison worked with Elmore James before leading his own 10-piece unit and becoming a star in the thriving West Side scene that included Jimmy Dawkins, Willie Kent, Freddie King, Luther Allison and Piano Red.
MORE RARE GEMS
Little Arthur Duncan: In 1950, at age 15, Arthur Duncan found himself in Chicago learning from the masters, Little Walter and Jimmy Reed. That education opened doors to gigs with Earl Hooker, John Brom and Floyd Jones and eventually he formed his own band, the Backscratcher’s Social Club. Additional mentions include his release Bad Reputation (1989, Blues King), plus a feature on the compilation Blues Across America: The Chicago Scene, plus releases for Delmark, Singin’ With the Sun, plus Live in Chicago and Live at Rosa’s Blues Lounge. In August of 2008 Little Arthur passed at age 74 due to complications following brain surgery.
Harmonica Hinds: A fixture on the Chicago blues scene since the early 70’s, Harmonica Hinds has an impressive pedigree. He was in the house band at the famed Theresa’s Lounge along with Junior Wells, Sammy Lawhorn, John Primer, Earnest Johnson, Nate Applewhite and Muddy Waters, Jr. and toured internationally as a member of the New Generation of Chicago Blues band. In addition, he’s recorded with Chicago blues royalty including Koko Taylor, Lefty Dizz, Eddy Taylor and Mud Morganfield, to name just a few. He has 3 self-produced CDs to his credit and was a proud member of the Black Ensemble Theater’s production of Muddy Waters: Hoochie Coochie Man.
Charlie Love: A native Chicagoan, Charlie picked up both harmonica and guitar at a young age. He met blues greats Lefty Dizz and Buddy Scott who would give Charlie his first taste of stardom by asking him to sit in at the Checkerboard Lounge. Soon after, Charlie formed the Hotlinks. He’d also be called on often to back stars like Mighty Joe Young and B.B. Odem. His friendship with drummer Casey Jones (Albert Collins) led to a regular gig at Kingston Mines with the Charlie Love Band.
Russ Green: See above.
THE CHICAGO BLUESMASTERS
Twist Turner: Twist moved to Chicago in 1975 and began working almost every night of the week as house drummer backing Jr. Wells at the legendary Theresa’s Lounge. He’s also worked with Jimmy Reed, Buddy Guy, Guitar Jr., Sunnyland Slim, Hubert Sumlin, Willie Kent, and many more. In the late 80’s/early 90’s Twist spent 5 years in the Bay Area working with Luther Tucker, Arkansas Larry Davis, Deacon Jones, Sonny Rhodes, Guitar Gable and others.
Mark (Max) Brumbach: Max is a native Chicagoan who started playing guitar and harmonica in the mid 1960’s. His first jobs were with the late Johnny Young, Wild Child Butler and the great Sunnyland Slim (with whom he recorded for Airway Records in 1974). He began playing piano in the early 1970’s, backing up such blues stalwarts as Eddie Taylor, Sam Lay, Johnny Littlejohn, J.B. Hutto, and Otis Clay. He toured Canada with the great Jimmy Reed and ended up staying there two years to tour with rockabilly wild man Matt Lucas. He has also performed with many country artists over the years, more recently recording with guitar legend James Burton on a Matt Lucas revival album.
Rick Kreher: Born and raised in Chicago, Rick has been on the blues scene for over 30 years. For 5 of those he backed the great Muddy Waters and also enjoyed long stints with Studebaker John and the Hawks, Mojo Buford, and The Rockin’ Johnny Band. He has toured and recorded with many of the Chicago masters – all of the greats who’ve recorded for the major blues labels.
Illinois Slim: Slim has been on the Chicago scene since the 1970’s. His guitar sound is deeply rooted in the classic style of players like the great Eddie Taylor, a tone that got him gigs backing Big Smokey Smothers, Kansas City Red, Big Moose Walker and Tail Dragger. For classic Chicago blues, Illinois Slim is the man.
(Greg) E.G. McDaniel: E.G. is a real son of the blues. As son of legendary singer-guitar player Floyd McDaniel, E.G. has become the first call bass player for many Chicago A-list artists. He has played with Buddy Guy, Byther Smith, Mississippi Heat, and countless others. Most recently he is holding down the bass chair with the Jimmy Burns Band.