Tag Archives: Blues

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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Bluesman Paul Vaughn Butterfield

Bluesman Paul Vaughn Butterfield

December 17, 1942 – May 4, 1987
Paul Butterfield
Paul Butterfield Blues Band

Remembering Paul Butterfield

Paul Butterfield was born in Chicago on December 17, 1942. He initially started playing the flute, but the magnetism of Chicago’s blues pulled him in and the harmonica became his instrument.

Butterfield began performing with fellow blues enthusiasts Nick Gravenites and Elvin Bishop and with the addition of a few others, including Michael Bloomfield, formed the Butterfield Blues Band.

Bluesman Paul Vaughn Butterfield

Newport 1965

Bluesman Paul Vaughn Butterfield
Paul Butterfield Blues Band at Newport

It was at that famous Newport Folk Festival of 1965, that Butterfield first met fame. Well-received by many there (electric blues was not what some came to hear), particularly by a young guy named Bob Dylan, Dylan invited some of the band to back him on part of his performance. Electric Dylan! Definitely not what some came to hear.

Like Paul Revere, Paul Butterfield helped deliver the big news: Dylan ain’t gonna work on Maggie’s farm no more:

Bluesman Paul Vaughn Butterfield

Vinyl Butterfield

Butterfield released seven albums with Elektra Records and later four albums for manager Albert Grossman’s Bearsville Records.

He also performed at the Woodstock Music and Art Fair on Monday morning after Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young and before Sha Na Na. Quite a placement! Here’s a great video from that performance:

Solo

The Blues band ended and he went solo. In 1976 he was part of the amazing line-up for The Band’s Last Waltz.

Bluesman Paul Vaughn Butterfield

Sessions

Over the next few years, Butterfield mostly confined himself to session work. He began to play more gigs in Los Angeles during the early ’80s, and eventually relocated there permanently; he also toured on a limited basis during the mid-’80s, and in 1986 released his final album, The Legendary Paul Butterfield Rides Again.

Paul Butterfield died on May 4, 1987.

R & R H of F

In 2015 he was (finally) inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (with band members Mike Bloomfield, Elvin Bishop, Mark Naftalin, Jerome Arnold, Billy Davenport and Sam Lay) (New York Times obituary)

Bluesman Paul Vaughn Butterfield
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