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Local and State News


Return of Those Delta Rhythm Kings?

Those Delta Rhythm Kings have resurfaced after a tearful farewell approximately 8 months ago. Earlier in the year TDRK’s announced the band was folding and Band members pursuing other musical interests. However, recently the Band resurfaced at Breakin’ Bread with the Blues benefit at the Green Door raising the question of a TDRK’s resurgence. When pressed for details, front man Ray Aleshire said, “TDRK had a great time reuniting for a performance at CABS' Breaking Bread with the Blues (in) 2016 with new drummer Geoff Lewis and it seems the longtime Lansing blues band is seriously considering a return to area stages. We have missed performing together and we would love to get back out and do some festivals and other concert type gigs. Bar gigs will likely be few and far between as we have little desire to tackle the grind of doing those on a regular basis." Stay tuned and watch area schedules -- Those Delta Rhythm Kings have long been a favorite of area blues fans and their impending return to the fray would be most welcome.”

Those Delta Rhythm Kings genre is jump blues, swing and jazz that has lit it up since 1988. They have played from Memphis, Tennessee and in numerous venues in Michigan and Canada. The Band clearly lived up to their reputation with their performance at Breakin’ Bread with the Blues. The pizazz has not been lost during this hiatus.

Thus, stay tuned to see what the next chapter will unfold in Those Delta Rhythm Kings saga.

Frog and the Beeftones Changes Band Lineup

The musical lineup of Frog and the Beeftones has changed as two members decided to pursue other musical interests and left the band. Both musicians were long time associates with membership in the Band going back over a decade. The new line up of Frog and the Beeftones features former Uptown Band member Dave Matcette and Todd Young from The Barons of Bass.  Matchette has an impressive history in the musical field performing in several well-known bands including a recent duo combination with Steve “Frog” Forgery as Hatchet Man and the Frog. Todd Young will be the new bass player with Matchette on vocals and harmonica. Frog will remain on lead guitar and vocals with Art Phelps on drums. This new lineup was showcased the Breakin’ Bread with the Blues at the Green Door on November 20, 2016

Frog and the Beeftones is a blues rock band exhibiting high energy combined with a healthy dose of rock and roll and funk.” This reputation was still in force as the new line up put on a blistering performance at the Breakin’ Bread with the Blues at the Green Door.  The saga continues.

National News and Beyond

Marie Dixon, Widow of Blues Legend Willie Dixon Passes Away

Marie Dixon, widow of blues legend Willie Dixon, died November, 20 of complications of cancer, diabetes and other health problems at age 79. She and her husband, who died in 1992, lived in California for many years. She returned to the Chicago area about eight years ago and headed the Willie Dixon Blues Heaven Foundation.  This eventually prompted a move into a new home in the historic Chess Records building on South Michigan Avenue in Chicago.

Dixon also continued the work begun by her husband to secure the rights and royalties to his music for his family, and through the foundation worked to help other musicians get what they were due.

Dixon was born Marie Booker in Oxford, Miss. She came to Chicago in the early 1950s, intending to study nursing. She met Willie Dixon shortly after arriving in Chicago, and the two married not long after. Willie Dixon was one of a handful of blues musicians who shaped the Chicago blues sound. In addition to his playing and singing, he wrote a number of blues classics, including "Wang Dang Doodle," "Hoochie Coochie Man," "Little Red Rooster" and "You Can't Judge a Book by the Cover."

In an 2013  interview she gave as part of The History Makers oral history collection, Dixon said her husband had a vision for a blues foundation. In the early 1980s, he established the organization as the Blues Heaven Foundation; a nonprofit designed to promote the blues and to provide scholarships, royalty recovery advice and emergency assistance to blues musicians in need.

In 1993, after her husband's death, Dixon purchased the Chess studios building at 2120 S. Michigan Ave. in Chicago to house the Blues Heaven Foundation. She then went on to serve as the foundation's president. Through the efforts of Dixon, her late daughter Shirli and others, the Blues Heaven Foundation and museum finally moved into the restored Chess space in 1997.

A 1990 plaque marking the building's landmark status named Willie Dixon as among the iconic musicians who recorded there. Others included Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf and Chuck Berry. The Rolling Stones also recorded there in the 1960s, connecting with the Chicago blues sound that influenced their early music.

In addition to his family with Marie, Dixon had another family with Elenor Franklin. Marie Dixon worked with the seven children of that family to recover rights and royalties to Willie Dixon's music.

Beyond that, in the case of Dixon's music, a longtime manager positioned himself as the owner of much of the music, and Marie Dixon and her family had to go to court to recover their rights.

In 2013, Marie Dixon was honored with the induction of the Willie Dixon Blues Heaven Foundation into the Chicago Blues Hall of Fame. Dixon's Blues Heaven Foundation provides an annual Muddy Waters Scholarship and an annual Willie Dixon Scholarship, each available to a full-time Chicago college student studying music, African-American studies, history, journalism or a related field.

Survivors include a daughter, Jacqueline; stepdaughters Elenoria Alao, Yvetta Dixon and Johnnie Dixon; stepsons Willie Franklin Dixon, Louis, Bobby and Freddy; and a large number of grandchildren and great-grandchildren.


Phil Chess, Founder of Chess Records Passes at Age 95

Philip Chess (March 27, 1921 – October 19, 2016) was a Polish American record producer and company executive, the co-founder with his brother of Chess Records.

He was born Fiszel Czyż in a Jewish community in Częstochowa, Poland. He along with  his brother Lejzor, sister Malka and mother followed their father to Chicago in 1928. The family name was changed to Chess, with Lejzor becoming Leonard and Fiszel becoming Philip.

In 1946, after leaving the Army, Phil joined Leonard in running a popular club, the Macomba Lounge. Two years later, Leonard became a partner in Aristocrat Records, a local company that recorded a wide range of music, and Phil joined in 1950. The company then changed its name to Chess Records, and began concentrating on R&B music, signing and recording artists such as Muddy Waters, Bo Diddley, "Sonny Boy Williamson" (Rice Miller), Robert Lockwood Jr., Etta James, Willie Dixon, Howlin Wolf and Chuck Berry.

The genesis of Chess Records was dramatized in the 2008 film “Cadillac Records,” featuring Beyonce, Adrien Brody, Mos Def and Jeffrey Wright. The Rolling Stones made an early pilgrimage to Chess and used the studio address for the name of a 1965 instrumental, “2120 S. Michigan Avenue.” The address was designated a city landmark in 1990.

Chess helped produce a little number some consider the first rock record: the 1951 tune “Rocket ’88,” by Jackie Brenston and His Delta Cats, including a young Ike Turner.

Perennial classics of blues and R&B came out of Chess, performed by countless artists who put their own spin on the songs. While at Chess, Dixon wrote “(I’m Your) Hoochie Coochie Man” for Waters, as well as “You Need Love,” which Led Zeppelin later reinterpreted as “Whole Lotta Love.” Dixon also wrote “Wang Dang Doogle” for Koko Taylor. Howlin’ Wolf’s “Little Red Rooster” was recorded at Chess.

Phil Chess was actively involved in producing many of their seminal blues and rock and roll recordings. The company expanded successfully through the 1950s and early 1960s, until it was sold to GRT in 1968.

Phil Chess retired to Arizona in 1972. Phil and Leonard Chess were both inducted to the Blues Hall of Fame as non-performers in 1995. In February 2013, Phil Chess attended the ceremony to receive one of The Recording Academy's Trustees Awards for non-performers presented to him and his brother.

He died on October 19, 2016, aged 95.