Blues Activist JB Lenoir

Blues Activist JB Lenoir

5 March 1929 – 29 April 1967

JB Lenoir was born in Monticello, Mississippi. Before moving to Chicago and its musical influences in 1949, Lanior had New Orleans’s musical cauldron to simmer in.

When he moved to Chicago he met Big Bill Broonzy who introduced Lenoir to the that town’s amazing blues scene.

“Born Dead”
Blues Activist JB Lenoir
(photo from All About Jazz site)
Blues Activist JB Lenoir

Korean Blues

We typically don’t associate the blues with protest music (unless we expand the definition of blues to mean just that…and in some ways that would be an easy expansion). JB Lanoir was occasionally a blues protest musician.

In the early 50s he wrote “Korean Blues.” Bordering on a protest song, JB Lanior’s high-pitched vocals fooled some to think it was a woman’s. The song is a straightforward statement of concern about his future in Korea as well as his woman’s future without him.

Lord I got my questionnaire, Uncle Sam's gonna send me away from here
Lord I got my questionnaire, Uncle Sam's gonna send me away from here
He said J. B. you know that I need you, Lord I need you in South Korea


Sweetheart please don't you worry, I just begin to fly in the air
weetheart please don't you worry, I just begin to fly in the air
Now the Chinese shoot me mdown, Lord I'll be in Korea somewhere

I just sittin' here wonderin', who you gonna let lay down in my bed
I just sittin' here wonderin', who you gonna let lay down in my bed
What hurt me so bad, think about some man has gone in your bed.
Blues Activist JB Lenoir

Eisenhower Blues

It was Lanoir’s “Eisenhower Blues” that caused a bit of a rumpus. Parrot Records, his label at the time, had to re-record the song and substitute the lyrics “tax-paying” instead of “Eisenhower.” Here’s the “controversial” original:

Hey everybody, I was talkin' to you
 I ain't tellin' you jivin', this is the natural truth

I got them Eisenhower blues
Thinkin' about me and you, what on earth are we gonna do?

My money's gone, my fun is gone
The way things look, how can I be here long?

I got them Eisenhower blues
Thinkin' about me and you, what on earth are we gonna do?

Taken all my money, to pay the tax
I'm only givin' you people, the natural facts
I only tellin' you people, my belief
Because I am headed straight, on relief

I got them Eisenhower blues
Thinkin' about me and you, what on earth are we gonna do?

Ain't go a dime, ain't even got a cent
I don't even have no money, to pay my rent
My baby needs some clothes, she needs some shoes
Peoples I don't know what, I'm gonna do

I got them Eisenhower blues
Thinkin' about me and you, what on earth are we gonna do?

Blues Activist JB Lenoir

Vietnam Blues

He continued to sporadically release music and before his death [following a poor treatment from a car accident’s injuries] Lanoir released “Vietnam Blues.” It is a song lost among the dozens of songs written during that time protesting that war. It is powerful and important, nonetheless.

Vietnam Vietnam, everybody cryin' about Vietnam
Vietnam Vietnam, everybody cryin' about Vietnam
The law all the days [?] killing me down in Mississippi, nobody seems to give a damn

Oh God if you can hear my prayer now, please help my brothers over in Vietnam
Oh God if you can hear my prayer now, please help my brothers over in Vietnam
The poor boys fightin', killin' and hidin' all in holes,
Maybe killin' their own brother, they do not know

Mister President you always cry about peace, but you must clean up your house before you leave
Oh how you cry about peace, but you must clean up your house before you leave
How can you tell the world how we need peace, and you still mistreat and killin' poor me.

In 1965, he performed in the annual American Folk Blues Festival that toured Europe with top acts that were more popular in Europe than in the performers own USA.

In 2011, Lenoir was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame.

Blues Activist JB Lenoir
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Edward Chip Monck

Edward Chip Monck

Celebrating his birthday, March 5, 1939
Edward Chip Monck
Chip Monck (from chipmonck.com)

The above audio clip is from an interview with Chip Monck in 2009  on the 40th Anniversary of the Woodstock Festival. Glenn A Baker interviewd Monck as part of the Ovation Channel show ‘Monday Night Legends’

The chipmonck.com site starts with these questions:

  1. Have you heard of Woodstock?
  2. Monterey Pop?
  3. The Rolling Stones Tour?
  4. Newport Jazz and Folk Festivals?
  5. The Concert for Bangladesh?

And then answers those questions with this simple answer:

He staged them all
Edward Chip Monck

Chip Monck

Edward Herbert Beresford “Chip” Monck was born in Wellesley, Massachusetts. He became a lighting and staging designer, but as the above references suggest, he did those things for some of the most iconic musical events of the 20th century.

When he was 20, Monck began working at the Greenwich Village nightclub The Village Gate.  While at the gate, his young friend Bobby Dylan worked in Monck’s basement apartment. Reputedly, Dylan wrote “A Hard Rain’s a’Gonna Fall” and “The Ballad of Hollis Brown” there. 

Monck recalls about Dylan,  “He spied the IBM Selectric [typewriter]. He typed while I worked at the Gate. That gave him like six hours, he’d just drift in, I gave him a key and he’d sit down and type and then I’d come back in and he’d go, or we’d go and have a drink or something. We really never spoke much.”

Edward Chip Monck

Festivals

While still working at the Village Gate, Monck also began working with the  Newport Folk Festival, and  the Newport Jazz Festival.

If those credentials aren’t enough, in 1967 he lit the Monterey International Pop Festival where Jimi Hendrix’s American coming out party occurred.

He also worked with Bill Graham in renovating Graham’s Fillmore theaters.

Edward Chip Monck

Woodstock Music and Art Fair

Woodstock Ventures hired Monck to do the lighting at their Fair. The last minute change of venue from Wallkill, NY to Bethel, NY forced Monck to eliminate much of his planned lighting. Spotlights became the primary source.

But to those who attended the Woodstock Music and Art Fair, Chip Monck’s voice along with John Morris’s became the reassuring threads that connected each band. Both men took turns not just introducing performers, but giving advice, recommending choices, and explaining what was going on at a time when social media didn’t exist as a term.

Perhaps the most famous quote of that weekend was Monck’s: ““The warning that I’ve received, you might take it with however many grains of salt you wish, that the brown acid that is circulating around is not specifically too good. It is suggested that you stay away from that. But it’s your own trip, be my guest. But please be advised that there’s a warning, okay?”

Edward Chip Monck

A LOT more after Woodstock

For years he helped light Rolling Stone tours and he received Tony nominations in lighting for The Rocky Horror Show and Bette Midler’s Divine Madness.

Edward Herbert Beresford Chip Monck
Playbill

He was always busy working many major venues. In 1989 he helped set up Pope John Paul’s papal mass at L.A.’s Dodger Stadium.

In the early 90s, Monck moved to Australia, his wife’s home country, where he continued in the lighting and design business. (Monck’s wife died in 2002)

Edward Chip Monck

Honors

He continues to live Melbourne, his focus mainly on corporate and retail work. In 2003, he received the  Parnelli Lifetime Achievement Award. The award recognizes pioneering, influential professionals and their contributions, honoring both individuals and companies. It is the Oscar of the live event industry.Here is the video that introduced that presentation.

Edward Chip Monck
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