BLUES SUMMIT FEAT.
Louis Walker - guitar, vocals
Born on Christmas Day in 1949 to parents whose migrant work took them from Arkansas to San Francisco, Walker was influenced early by their colledion of 78's - Amos Milburn, B.B. King, and Howlin' Wolf - and began playing guitar at 14. He left home at 16, ending up in San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury district, rooming with guitarist Mike Bloomfield. In San Francisco he had the opportunity to meet and play with many of the touring blues legends: Lightnin' Hopkins, Earl Hooker and Magic Sam. "I was opening up for people like Freddie King, John Lee Hooker, and Muddy Waters", he remembers. Other local masters Walker befriended included LowelI Fulson, the Texas guitarman, and the legendary slide guitarist Fred McDowell, a major influence for JLW.
In the seventies Walker immersed himself in gospel music and joined the gospel quartet The Spiritual Corinthians. They were together 10 years, making their first recording in 1980, GOD WILL PROVIDE. That gospel influence continues to echo in Walker's songwriting and singing.
But it was during a 1985 performance at the New Orleans' Jazz and Heritage Festival with The Spiritual Corinthians, surrounded by the festival's blues acts, where JLW heard the blues muse. When an opportunity came to tour Europe with the Mississippi Delta Blues Band there was no hesitation. Returning to San Francisco he formed The Bosstalkers, and in 1986 he released his first album, COLD IS THE NIGHT, the first of five for Hightone Records. The rest of the decade was a dizzying succession of accolades, tours, and record releases, including W.C. Handy Awards for Contemporary Artist of the Year in 1988,1989, and 1990.
His international acclaim continuing to grow, Joe signed with Verve Records in 1992. His first two Verve releases were BLUES SURVIVOR and JLW. His celebrated 1995 release, BEST OF THE MONTH CLUB, co-produced by Steve Cropper, featuring The Spiritual Corinthians and the Memphis Horns, is an eclectic mix demonstrating once again the wide breadth of Walker's blues.
JLW has continued to find time to cultivate relationships in the blues world, resulting in many exciting projects. In 1989 he was asked to participate in The Celebration for Young America, an All-Star Blues tribute presented by the White House featuring Stevie Ray Vaughn, Albert Collins, and Percy Sledge, among others.
1991 he was invited by the legendary Willie Dixon to be part of the Willie
Dixon Dream Band. Joe's friendship with B.B. King led to his appearance
on B.B.'s 1993 Grammy®-winning BLUES SUMMIT That same year, Joe and
The Bosstalkers were voted Blues Band of the Year by the W.C. Handy Awards,
and Joe won the 1995 Bammy (Bay Area Music Award) for Blues Musician of
the Year. Walker's most recent collaboration is with harp master James
Cotton on Cotton's 1996 Grammy® Award nominated record, DEEP IN THE
BLUES, an acoustic work featuring Cotton, JLW on guitar with jazz great
Charlie Haden on bass.
Born in 1951 north of Chicago. Billy Branch grew up on the West Coast where his parents had retired. He discovered the blues in Los Angeles and his first harmonica lessons came from Paul Butterfield. In 1969 Billy returned to Chicago. taking part in the Grand Park Festival and also appeared often at the Queen Bee's and Theresa's Lounge - two clubs that were particularly active in the black districts Of Chicago He was billed with Junior Wells and Lefty Dizz. Billy rapidly acquired the cities´ harmonica style and today he has become one of Chicago´s most important representatives of the instrument - cleverly combining the different influences of his mentors and equals: Little Walter, Sonny Boy Williamson, Walter Horton, James Cotton, Junior Wells, Carey Bell and Mojo Bufford, the great creators who gave the harmonica it's legitimacy.
In 1975 Billy won a harp contest at the Green Bunny Club and it was then that things got serious. He had regular bookings. but above all, he recorded a few titles for an anthology released by the Barrelhouse label, which brought him to the attention of Carey Bell. Carey was about to leave Willie Dixon and introduced Billy to Dixon as his replacement with the famous bassist's Blues All Stars group.
was with Willie Dixon that Billy Branch completed his apprenticeship.
When not on tour with Dixon, Billy appeared with his own group, Sons of
When Billy Branch reformed the Sons of Blues group in 1984 - he recorded his first album Where's My Money?, produced by the Red Beans label.
1987 saw the release of The New Blue Bloods, an album in which the Sons of Blues took part. Then in 1990, Bruce Iglauer brought to the studio the four best harmonica players in Chicago. Together with Carey Bell Junior Wells and James Cotton, Billy Branch recorded the magnificent anthology, Harp Attack. In l 991 Chicago Beau produced the interesting album, Mississippi FIashback.
Billy's activities aren't limited to the studio and the stage - he is a militant in the struggle for recognition of the blues and he devotes much of his time to the schooling of children, sharing his passion for the music. This can be seen in Jacques Lacava's film "Sweet Home Chicago". Billy also served as the coordinator of the Chicago Blues Festival - one of the major events in the world of African American music.
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