Blues Heroes | Howlin’ Wolf

Howlin Wolf

“A lot of peoples holler about ‘I don’t like no blues,’ but when you ain’t got no money, and can’t pay your house rent and can’t buy you no food, you damn sure got the blues. If you ain’t got no money you got the blues, because you’re thinking evil. That’s right. Any time you’re thinking evil, you’re thinking about the blues.” – Howlin’ Wolf

Chester Arthur Burnett (June 10, 1910 – January 10, 1976) was named after the 21st president. His eventual size – he was purportedly 6’3” and 300 lbs (191 cm and 136 kg) – would result in nicknames like Big Foot Chester & Bull Cow but they had already started calling him “Wolf” by the age of 3.

“My grandfather gave me that name. He used to sit down and tell me tall stories about what the wolf would do. Because I was a bad boy, you know, always in devilment. I’d say ‘Well, what do the wolf do?’ He’d say ‘Howl.’ You know, to scare me, you know, and I’d get mad about this. I didn’t know it would be a great name.”

Born in Mississippi, the list of Delta musicians that helped Wolf on his journey to becoming one of the most recognizable Chicago blues artists is a veritable ‘Who’s Who’ of Blues: Continue reading

Blues Songs | Going Down Slow

LegendsIf you’ve been dancing blues for a little while, you’ll almost certainly have danced to some version of ‘Going Down Slow’.

One of the things DJs do to find new music is listen to covers. We love to surprise dancers by playing less familiar versions of well-known songs, especially ‘blues standards’.

I started my search for Going Down Slow on Spotify and YouTube a few months back. I found myself listening more closely to the lyrics and became curious to learn where the song came from and how it travelled and changed over time.

Listening to this one song through the decades allowed me to hear subtle changes of instrumentation and vocal emphasis. It’s a perfect example of how a ‘blues standard’ can be interpreted and arranged in different ways, depending on when, where and by whom it was recorded.

Here’s my playlist if you’d like to listen along.

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