James Cotton - Live At Antone's Nightclub [Vinyl]

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  • 180g black vinyl
  • 12", 1-LP
  • Includes digital download code

Tunica, Mississippi sits about halfway between Helena, Arkansas and Memphis, Tennessee. During the Great Depression, when James Cotton was growing up there, all three were “ballin’ towns” and regular stops for the blues legends on their way north out of the Delta. By the time he was of school age, James was dancing for tips on the street corners in Tunica, on his way through Helena and Memphis to Chicago and international renown.

By 1948, Cotton was a member of Howlin' Wolf’s band, which also featured Herman “Jr.” Parker, another prodigious harmonica man. Wolf broadcasted a show over station KWEM in West Memphis, Arkansas, similar to Sonny Boy’s.

In Memphis, across the river, Cotton recorded for Sam Phillips’ Sun Records. “Straighten Up Baby” in 1954 was followed by his first classics, “Cotton Crop Blues” and “Hold Me In Your Arms,” with Pat Hare on guitar.

For twelve years, Cotton held the harmonica chair for one of Muddy Waters’ great bands, beginning at Smitty’s Corner, 35th and Indiana in Chicago with Pat Hare, Otis Spann and Francis Clay. This is the band that played itself into music history on July 4th, 1960 at the Newport Jazz Festival with “Got My Mojo Working.”

During the early 1960’s, Cotton was a regular on the European festival circuit and one of the major instigators of the “Blues Revival” at the Fillmore and Avalon in the San Francisco of the late 60’s. Since that time Cotton has continued touring the world, putting together blockbuster bands featuring such notable players as Luther Tucker and Matt Murphy. This performance, recorded at Antone’s in Austin, Texas, is especially important because it features both of these great guitarists for the first time – along with Chicago legends Pinetop Perkins, Calvin Jones and Willie Smith.

When a blizzard recently closed both Chicago airports and he was booked at Antone’s, Cotton jumped in his van and drove through the storm. “They closed the airport,” he told me, “they didn’t close the interstate.” He’s still dancing on the street corners and stealing every show.

– Paul Ray ‘88


Side A -

  1. Blow Wind Blow
  2. Juke
  3. It Ain’t Right
  4. Gone To Main Street

Side B -

  1. Oh Baby
  2. I’m Your Hoochie Coochie Man
  3. Eyesight To The Blind
  4. Midnight Creeper