Michael Coleman and the Delmark All-Stars: Blues Brunch at the Mart

John Barron By

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Every June, in celebration of the Chicago Blues Festival, Delmark Records hosts its annual Blues Brunch at the Jazz Record Mart. This live recording from the 2005 brunch features guitar great Michael Coleman backing up a stellar cast of Delmark artists.

Blues fans might remember Coleman as a member of James Cotton's legendary band from the 1980s, appearing on classic recordings like Live From Chicago: Mr. Superharp Himself! (Alligator, 1984). A dynamic frontman himself, Coleman and his band, The Backbreakers, are the featured house rhythm section for this all-star session of some of the best blues Chicago has to offer.

Coleman takes center stage on the Elmore James classic "The Sky Is Crying" and Sammy Fender's "You're Going To Miss Me," showcasing his unique story-telling brand of singing. The guitarist's funky, down-home, explosive style of playing lights a spark under veteran vocalists Little Arthur Duncan, Bonnie Lee, Zora Young and Shirley Johnson. Johnson's performance of "As The Years Go Passing By" features Coleman in a truly inspired moment, conjuring up one mesmerizing lick after another.

Coleman steps aside on a few tracks to make way for guitar slingers Lurrie Bell and Steve Freund. Bell, a Chicago mainstay and son of the late harmonica legend Carey Bell, rips through B.B. King's "I Need You So Bad" and Lowell Fulsom's "Reconsider Baby." Bell's vocalizing jumps out like a natural extension of his razor sharp guitar playing. Freund, a long time Chicago resident who now makes his home on the West Coast, tears things up on his tune, "My Little Playhouse."

Freund also accompanies bassist Willie Kent who easily earns the award for best-vocalist-of-the-day for his passionate growling on his own tune, "Something New." Other disc highlights include Steve Behr's boogie-woogie piano playing and Delmark Records founder Bob Koester's entertaining banter in between songs. Every track is a winner on this disc, making it a modern day blues classic.

Track Listing: Knockin' On Your Door; The Sky Is Crying; I Need You So Bad; Reconsider Baby; Something New; Sad & Evil Woman; My Little Playhouse; Toxic; Memories of Albert Ammons; As The Years Go Passing By; Be Careful; Wading In Deep Water; You?re Going To Miss Me.

Personnel: Michael Coleman: guitar (1, 2, 6, 8, 10, 13), vocals (2, 13); John Chorney: keyboards; Dave Wood: bass; Bobby Sellers: drums; Little Arthur Duncan: vocals, harmonica (1); Lurrie Bell: vocals (3, 4), guitar (3, 4, 11); Willie Kent: vocals, bass (5); Bonnie Lee: vocals (6); Steve Freund: vocals (7), guitar (5, 7); Zora Young: vocals (8); Steve Behr: piano (9); Shirley Johnson: vocals (10); Tail Dragger: vocals (11); Aaron Moore: vocals, piano (12).

Title: Blues Brunch at the Mart | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Delmark Records


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