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Kingsville Jukin’ by Studebaker John’s Maxwell Street Kings
Blues Blast Interview
Studebaker John - Old School Rockin'
Audio Interview with John
Montreal Jazz & Blues Fest Interview
Montreal Jazz & Blues Fest Performance

CD photo © 2012 all rights reserved.


Official CD Release Party

Come on down and get your own autographed copy of the new CD


Studebaker John's Old School Rockin'
Delmark Release - Feb, 2012

Studebaker John

“On my last CD, Maxwell Street Kings, I wanted to capture the raw, less-is-more sound that I first heard on Chicago’s Maxwell St. My new CD, Old School Rockin’, is rockin’ blues that helps people to forget their troubles. I’ve tried to incorporate the raw blues sound into songs that strive to be more contemporary and without musical boundaries. It’s what that sound turned into in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, when the raw blues heavily influenced many contemporary artists, and changed the course of popular music. Old School Rockin’ is for all the people, from the rocking blues crowd to the purists, and from the young folks just getting into it to those who’ve been listening all along.”
~Studebaker John

Studebaker John was born in Chicago in 1952, and has lived his whole life there. An avid music fan as a youngster, he learned to play several instruments, including first the harmonica, then the drums, and in his late teens, the guitar. He came of age in the ‘60s, so was part of the rock ‘n’ roll/rock generation. It was a time when musical boundaries and barriers were being broken down, and elements of different styles were combined into something new and vibrant that filled the airwaves of AM radio. John liked a lot of different music, but as a young teenager he’d occasionally hear songs that especially captured his attention and imagination. “At the time, I had no idea that this music was called blues, but listening to the radio, you’d hear Jimmy Reed, Freddy King, Slim Harpo, and things like that, all mixed in with other music I listened to.” A few years later, that included the music of the Yardbirds, the Rolling Stones, and Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac in England, and in the USA, Bob Dylan, Paul Butterfield, Mike Bloomfield, Johnny Winter, the Allman Brothers, ZZ Top, and countless others, all of whom took their inspiration from Chicago’s electric blues, and added a hard rocking edge to it.

Also during the ‘60s, John was traveling the city; working in his family’s plumbing business, which sometimes took him to the Maxwell Street open air market, where he heard street musicians playing a raw electrified blues for tips. “I got to see Big John Wrencher, the one-armed harp player who was a Maxwell Street regular and played with just a guitarist and drummer. I was spellbound. His music was simple yet so powerful.” The music he heard on Maxwell Street drew him in, and he started hanging out at clubs on the South and West Side to catch live acts. One memorable night he saw a performance by Hound Dog Taylor that resulted in a personal epiphany: “I had to play slide guitar.”

Over the next couple of decades, John played every chance he got, sometimes sitting in with the cream of Chicago blues players, such as Big Walter, Jimmy Johnson, Buddy and Phil Guy, James Cotton, Jr. Wells and Hound Dog Taylor. He built a reputation as a performer with an exciting, propulsive guitar style, and also developed into a fine blues harpist and vocalist. He became a sought-after sideman and session musician. For example, when the remnants of The Yardbirds and the Pretty Things came to Chicago in the early ‘90s looking to make a blues album, they tapped John to provide guitar and harp backing. Shortly thereafter, he was asked to join the reformed Yardbirds, an offer John tuned down in order to record his own music. He realized that he wanted to stop playing cover versions of others’ music, and to develop his own voice as a songwriter. “Writing songs is the most satisfying part of my job. I write a song to make myself feel better, and I hope it makes others feel better, too.” Since then he has put out more than a dozen albums of all original music, recording on the Blind Pig, Evidence, and his own Avanti labels. It is fitting that Studebaker John is now with Delmark, the oldest existing Chicago-based blues label. He is a Chicago blues original, who plays from the heart and always takes his own distinctive approach to contemporary blues.

“On my last CD, Maxwell Street Kings, I wanted to capture the raw, less-is-more sound that I first heard on Chicago’s Maxwell St. My new CD, Old School Rockin’, is rockin’ blues that helps people to forget their troubles. I’ve tried to incorporate the raw blues sound into songs that strive to be more contemporary and without musical boundaries. It’s what that sound turned into in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, when the raw blues heavily influenced many contemporary artists, and changed the course of popular music. Old School Rockin’ is for all the people, from the rocking blues crowd to the purists, and from the young folks just getting into it to those who’ve been listening all along.”

Old School Rockin’ presents Studebaker John at the top of his game on 14 original compositions, and is a satisfying listen from beginning to end. Recorded with a minimum of overdubs and a “live-in-the studio” feel, it’s taut and driving. Highlights include the Latin groove of “Mesmerized;” the swampy, gut-bucket rhythms of “A Disease Called Love;” the wages of sin rocker, “Fire Down Below;” with its very fine harmonica break; the hill-countrified “Tumblin’ Down The Road;” and the live show favorites, “Rockin’ Hot,” “She Got It Right (Dress So Tight),” and “Fine Little Machine.”
~Michael Dixon

Dixon is the former Director of Blues and Roots Music for WRBC, Bates College, and a contributor to blues guides and publications.

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