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Music & Concerts
Blues at the Crossroads pays tribute to legends
Article published on Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013
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Blues at the Crossroads 2 pays tribute to Chicago blues legends Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf.
The Fabulous Thunderbirds form the core band at Blues at the Crossroads 2, a celebration of Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf.
James Cotton is one of the featured musicians who will be celebrating the music of Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf at Blues at the Crossroads 2.
Tinsley Ellis performs Feb. 22 at the Palladium in St. Petersburg as part of Blues at the Crossroads 2.
Jody Williams joins the Blues at the Crossroads 2 lineup Feb. 22 at the Palladium in St. Petersburg.
Bob Margolin joins the lineup in a tribute to Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf Feb. 22 at the Palladium in St. Petersburg.
ST. PETERSBURG – Celebrate the music of Chicago blues legends Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf at Blues at the Crossroads 2 Friday, Feb. 22, 8 p.m., at The Palladium at St. Petersburg College, 253 Fifth Ave. N., St. Petersburg.

Musicians for this Bill Edwards production include The Fabulous Thunderbirds featuring Kim Wilson, plus James Cotton, Bob Margolin, Tinsley Ellis and Jody Williams.

Back in the day, Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf vied for the honor of the title “Father of Modern Chicago Blues,” and this rivalry spurred them to create the classics such as “Spoonful,” “Mannish Boy,” “Rolling Stone” and “Smokestack Lightning.” Their music inspired Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, John Mayall and Eric Clapton, who were instrumental in starting the 1960s British blues explosion.

Tickets start at $39.50. Call 893-7832 or visit

Blues legends

According to the website of the Blues Foundation, when the Blues Hall of Fame balloted for its first group of inductees in 1980, Muddy Waters received the most votes.

He grew up on the Stovall plantation near Clarksdale, Miss., where he developed into one of the Delta's leading bluesmen. Influenced by Son House and Robert Johnson, he moved to Chicago in 1943 where he connected with Aristocrat and Chess Records. He attracted band members such as Little Walter, Jimmy Rogers, and Otis Spann and soon became the kingpin of Chicago blues. Waters also emerged as godfather to generations of blues and rock musicians.

The Blues Foundation website calls Howlin' Wolf “one of the most awe-inspiring figures in blues history on several levels.”

Born Chester Arthur Burnett in White Station, Miss., in 1910, he left home for the Delta at age 13. There, he discovered his own role model, Charley Patton. He took lessons with Patton at Will Dockery's plantation and soon began performing on his own as a guitarist.

The bluesman came to prominence in West Memphis, Ark., in the early 1950s with a band that included guitarists Willie Johnson and Pat Hare. In 1951, he recorded his first records with Chess and RPM. The connection with Chess Records eventually took Wolf to Chicago in 1954 where his legend continued to grow.

Paying tribute

The Fabulous Thunderbirds, the quintessential American band for more than 30 years, has been devoted to the sounds of blues, R&B and rock and roll. Their first self-titled album released in 1979 became a blues classic. In subsequent releases, the group incorporated Cajun, rock and roll and soul influences and, in 1986, reached a commercial peak with their “Tuff Enough” album.

Muddy Waters called Fabulous Thunderbirds co-founder Kim Wilson his favorite harmonica player and vocalist. Wilson is joined by greats James Cotton, Bob Margolin, Tinsley Ellis and Jody Williams as the core band for Blues at the Crossroads 2.

James Cotton’s musical pedigree consists of a veritable who’s who in the world of the blues.

He’s a Grammy winner, an inductee into the Blues Hall of Fame, the Smithsonian Institute, and a recipient of countless W.C. Handy Blues Awards. In 2011, Cotton’s “Giant” CD on Alligator Records was nominated for a Grammy for Traditional Blues Album. The Blues Foundation’s Blues Music Awards also nominated “Giant” in the same category along with Cotton in both the Traditional Male Artist and Instrumentalist – Harmonica categories.

During his 60-year career, Cotton has shared the stage with B.B. King, Santana, Steve Miller, Johnny Winter, the Allman Brothers, Bonnie Raitt, Led Zeppelin, Janis Joplin, Sam and Dave and the Grateful Dead. He is the only musician alive today who has played with Sonny Boy Williamson, Howlin’ Wolf, and Muddy Waters.

”My audience always tells me how I’m doing,” Cotton said in a press release from Ted Kurland Associates promoting Blues at the Crossroads 2. “If I look out there and don’t like what I see, I work harder.”

Southern blues-rocker Tinsley Ellis first hit the national scene with his Alligator Records debut “Georgia Blue” in 1988.

Ellis has toured non-stop and continued to release one critically acclaimed album after another. Over the course of 11 albums and thousands of live performances, Ellis easily ranks as one of today’s most electrifying blues-rock guitarists and vocalists. He attacks his music with rock power and blues feeling, in the same tradition as his Deep South musical heroes Duane Allman and Freddie King and his old friends Derek Trucks and Warren Haynes.

Tinsley Ellis wears his Southern roots proudly. Born in Atlanta in 1957, he grew up in southern Florida and first played guitar at age 8. He found the blues through the back door of British Invasion bands like The Yardbirds, The Animals, Cream, and The Rolling Stones.

Blues guitarist Jody Williams was the first great string bender on the Chicago blues scene. He provided the stylistic bridge between B.B. King and T-Bone Walker, two of his principle influences, and young firebrands Otis Rush and Buddy Guy.

As a key Chicago session-guitarist during the 1950s, Williams added the essential guitar fire to some of the era's greatest blues recordings such as Bo Diddley's “Who Do You Love,” Howlin' Wolf's “Forty Four,” Billy Boy Arnold's “I Wish You Would” and his own shimmering minor key instrumental “Lucky Lou.”

Bob Margolin, blues guitar player and vocalist, tours worldwide both leading his own band and The Bob Margolin All-Star Blues Jam. Margolin won a Blues Music Award for Guitar in 2008. He played guitar in Muddy Waters’ Band from 1973 to 1980.

Margolin’s most recent album is “The Bob Margolin All-Star Blues Jam” for Telarc Records, which features many of today’s surviving Chicago Blues legends. Since the ’90s, he also has recorded albums for the Powerhouse, Alligator, and Blind Pig labels.
Article published on Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013
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